This month for our Ways to Wander series, we sat down with Clare Healy. She's an avid trail runner, adventurer and advocate for sustainability and the environment, which shows in her role as the Director of Marketing at Looptworks, a company that upcylces materials to create quality and unique goods. Clare recently moved to Portland, Oregon from Los Angeles and if there's one thing you should know about Clare, it's that she is an amazing story-teller who authentically cares for the future of our environment, and her Instagram is a testament to this. Give this Q&A a read to dive into Clare's perspective on the outdoors and sustainability.
You recently started a role with Looptworks, a company that makes products with upcycled materials. What was the motivation behind this decision?
I could go depths about the life happenings and worldly events that propelled me into this role with Looptworks, but I’ll try to refrain. Because it did come down to a few things that orchestrated all at once. A recurring run-in with a simple message that if you’re not doing something, you’re doing nothing. The political landscape and its stark turn against very tangible issues like climate change. The lack of action from big corporations and leaders I thought I admired. The idea that we have so many hours in the day and if, 30-40% of those hours are spent doing something we don’t wholeheartedly believe in, how much time and energy does that leave you with to put more good into the world?
I grew up with a very utilitarian mindset around career – a mindset that led me to seek skills-centered jobs that taught me well and helped me pay the bills, but ones that lacked to fulfill my passions. After years of nurturing side hustles to fill my moral tank, burnout and anxiety started to ensue. I then realized it was time to start prioritizing a longer-term path. Once I committed myself to that, the Looptworks opportunity very much found me.
What is one eco-friendly thing you do every day, and what inspires you to protect the planet?
My inspiration is driven by the attitude of the community I cross paths with - the athletes and adventurers, scientists and policy pushers, marketing managers and CEOs committed to sustainability. Right now, in 2019, sustainability and environmental consciousness stops at no one. There are weeks on end where I see people, regardless of job, level, or background, fighting for it from the ground up. For me, there is nothing more motivating. Amongst all the doomsday-esque messaging around climate change and the seemingly daunting uphill battle to do better, I think people forget the positivity and celebration involved with actually making the right choice. Not to mention the business opportunities that can open up when you choose to value more than just bottom line revenue. Yes, we have put ourselves in a situation that requires action and innovation across the board, but we’re not going to get there without keeping our heads up.
With that, I think the most eco-friendly thing I do every day is hold onto a positive attitude. Or in my truest words, keep the stoke alive. But okay, I also carry my essentials – To-Go Ware reusable silverware, Hydro Flask coffee cup, and Nalgene water bottle everywhere I go. It sounds simple and that’s because it is.
What do you find is the most enjoyable way to explore the outdoors or your favorite national park?
Despite this potentially being a cop-out of an answer, I can’t resist a good multi-sport approach to national parks or any place we go. There is nothing I love more than leaving a place feeling like I lived it from every angle – felt the granite when climbing, smelled the flowers on a walk, took in the stars while backpacking, sped down the flowy trails on a bike (or tripped down them when trail running), submerged myself in the waters, took in the summit air. When we pack up the car, it’s a constant game of gear tetris and making bets on how much can fit. It lets us avoid over-planning and really seek some off-the beaten paths. It also leaves mental space to make sure the weekend was stacked with mentally-fulfilling activities. I will be the first to tout that sometimes the grueling objectives we initially mapped out just aren’t meant to be. And rather than going home bummed about a potential failure of a weekend, we go straight for a plan B (or C, D, E, and F).
Based on your Instagram, it looks like you get outdoors often. What is your best adventure planning tip?
My best planning tip isn’t a planning tip at all. But it’s to dream it then go do it. I’m overly aware that this statement bars all barriers – whether socioeconomic, physical, mental, or beyond. But I stand by the belief that whatever has been burning in the back of your mind needs to be and deserves to be done. You, whoever you are, need to chase that passion not only for the sake of your personal fulfillment, but for the sake of inspiring others like you that they can do the same. One of my college professors hammered home the lesson of “you can’t be what you can’t see.” In this day and age, the more we can use adventure as a tool for inspiring others – children, women, people of color, people with disabilities, and beyond – that they can do something they never thought, the better off future generations will be. And the more inclusive our outdoors will be.
What is the last thing you read or heard that had a profound impact?
I’m reading Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass for the third time through right now. Yes, it’s that good. She has a million and one gems in the collection of essays, but she commonly shares that “to love a place is not enough. We must find ways to heal it.” With outdoor recreation constantly gaining popularity, our public lands living at risk, native lands continuing to be attacked, and even just our home neighborhood getting harmed by our existence, the need for us to do more than appreciate our spaces is prominent. Kimmerer never fails to say this in a very poetic way.
What does your ideal #KujuMoment look like?
Without a doubt, any of those moments where you feel the earth breathing with you. The seconds or, if you’re lucky, minutes where utter stillness consumes the miles around you. The moments that completely stop time, hush anxieties, and make you realize you have nowhere else to be but right there, right then. For me, this often happens in simple moments like pausing to soak up the feelings at the summit, basking at a lake at sunset, stopping in the middle of the woods when on a walk, or looking up at the sky on a clear night.
What's the next adventure (outdoor or life related) you have planned?
Honestly, the biggest adventure right now is with Looptworks. We have a lot of exciting projects coming down the pipeline. Even more so, we have rapidly-increasing interest from brands who are looking to crush zero waste initiatives, so that’s a huge focus for me at the moment. Time is of the essence, as they say. But that doesn’t mean the weekend adventuring will stop. We just finished building out a camper van, so we’re ready to hit the road and make good use of it as we head into the fall. As 2 new-ish Oregon residents, there is an infinite amount of exploring to do, so we’re really soaking up the local trips.
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