Introducing Saskia Sills – elite athlete, British Sailing Team iQFoil Olympic class windsurfer and sustainability advocate, with her sights set on representing Britain at the Paris 2024 Olympics - and that’s just for starters!
Off the water Saskia is incredibly passionate about sustainability and uses her athlete platform as a force for good for the planet. Her planet positive approach is aligned with so many of our values, which is why we are thrilled to announce that she’s joining the Childs Farm and Farmologie family as our Sustainability Ambassador for 2021.
We caught up with Saskia straight after training to talk sustainability, mission to win Olympic gold and her campaign against single use plastic…
SASKIA SILLS AKA ‘SUSTAINABILITY SAS’ STANDING UP FOR THE PLANET!
Saskia! Tell us a little bit about yourself… How did you get into windsurfing?
Hi! I’m Saskia, I’m 24 years old and have been windsurfing since I was nine. I fell in love with the sport straight away after trying it out at our local lake in Devon. Aged 10 I knew that ‘when I grew up’ I wanted my job to be a windsurfer - I'm now an elite athlete in the sport training towards the Paris 2024 Olympics. I absolutely love being an athlete; the training, the traveling and the competition is always something I have enjoyed, but one of the best things is meeting like-minded people all around our world.
I fell in love with the freedom windsurfing gave me when I was younger, the feeling of being alone on the water and having to fully focus on how to get faster or to go in a different direction, whilst being in complete control. The resilience it taught to keep on trying when something gets tough is something that I will always be grateful for. I loved and still love being on the water with my friends and my family. My identical twin sister, Imogen and our older brother, Sam are also professional windsurfers competing towards the Paris 2024 Olympics.
You are clearly so passionate about sustainability, especially in sport. How are you campaigning for positive change?
I grew up in Cornwall, always playing outside whatever the weather, which has given an insight into our incredible natural world.
I love nature and everything about it - I think it's so fun, extremely healing and really precious. I studied Geography at university which I found very interesting; however, it also opened my eyes up to things like global warming, habitat destruction and plastic pollution in our oceans - which are all pretty bad for our planet and everything that lives on it.
Learning about these processes made me think long and hard about my life and how I wanted to make a positive impact for the world. I’m currently a Big Plastic Pledge ambassador which is a global movement to eradicate single use plastic usage in elite sport. I'm also really passionate about making small differences in my everyday life that add up towards a big difference. For example, reducing my single use plastic usage, shopping more locally where I can, only buying or using products from brands that are genuinely trying to make a difference, eating foods in season or with lower air miles, travelling in the most sustainable ways possible and using a renewable energy supplier for my household energy requirements.
I am not perfect, and I find it really difficult to live a fully sustainable and zero waste life but one day soon, I hope that I can say that I do. Sometimes I find it all very overwhelming, but I really believe that having millions of people trying their best and doing what they can is far better than having only a few people doing it perfectly.
As an ambassador for The Big Plastic Pledge, you’re working to drive sustainable change to reduce single-use plastics in sport – what change needs to be made?
I’m pretty sure that the will and motivation to change from athletes is there already, especially water sport athletes. We're so fortunate to be in the ocean almost every day of our lives, but that also comes with seeing firsthand lots of plastic floating in the water. A few years ago, I never used to notice plastic in the water, it was uncommon. However, now it's more common to see plastic in the water than not. What worries me most is microplastics - they are plastics that have been broken down in the ocean by the sun and wind to pieces that are too small to be able to see but are already causing massive problems in our environment as well as to human health. The scariest part is that we just don't know how bad the impact is going to be.
I think one of the biggest ways to help to reduce single use plastic in sport is everyday life things such as plastic water bottles and takeaway food containers. So, something as simple as having clean drinking water supplied in taps at every single sporting event so that athletes, coaches, support staff, fans, event organisers (everyone) could fill up reusable bottles would be, I believe, a huge step in being able to reduce single use plastic usage in sport.
Your sustainability mission is to win iQFoil Olympic Gold at a carbon neutral games – how will you get there?
My mission is to win an Olympic Gold medal whilst living the most sustainable life I can. I want my lifestyle to have a positive impact on our world and I believe it's possible. I want to show to everyone that sustainability and success can go hand in hand.
We’re thrilled to have you as our new sustainability ambassador! How do you feel?
I am proud and excited to be partnering with Childs Farm and Farmologie. I absolutely love everything about you! Your values align with mine pretty perfectly. I’m a great believer in not having to give up on quality when making sustainable swaps, Farmologie and Childs Farm are perfect examples of this. I’m excited to partnered with brand leaders in sustainability.
At Childs Farm and Farmologie, our mission is not only to make products that are kind to skin, but kind to planet too. Why is this important to you?
I love to discover brands that are doing great things for our planet like Childs Farm and Farmologie, a lot of your products are made with prevented ocean plastic which is so great to know. You also sustainably source naturally derived ingredients from ethical suppliers which is so great. I love to use products that are kind to the planet as well as kind to ourselves.
For me, it's so important to support companies that are doing great things like this because it needs to happen, now. Being in the water a lot of highlights plastic pollution issues to me on a daily basis as well as this, it also means that I need to look after my skin properly. I have very sensitive skin and find that sun, salt water and sweat don’t go well with my skin. I used to be in pain after training with irritated and dry sensitive skin but since I have started to use Childs Farm and Farmologie products I no longer suffer with these problems. The products are quite literally life changing for me and I couldn't be happier that they are kind to skin as well as being kind to the planet too.
What small sustainability swaps can people make in their everyday life to make positive change for the planet?
I think that progress over perfection is the key thing here. Yes, it would be amazing if everyone living on this planet could live a fully sustainable, zero waste lifestyle and yes, that's what we should all be working towards because it is what needs to happen in order to stop global warming, habitat destruction and plastic pollution. But it doesn't happen overnight.
Trying to change everything all at once is pretty overwhelming and the way that I have managed to implement long lasting changes is to do smaller changes over time which have actually added up to be huge changes to how I'm living now compared to how I used to live. I find living more sustainable really exciting and fun. Whenever I need to remind myself of why I'm making big changes, I always ask myself the question: Would I rather swim in an ocean full of life, full of colour that's clean and refreshing or in an ocean where everything is dead and smelling badly. I know which answer I would choose…!
And finally, what’s 2021 got in store for you?
At the moment I am training towards the World Championships which will take place in Switzerland in August. We also have our European Championships in October in the Paris 2024 venue which should be very exciting. Of course, these competitions are all to be confirmed nearer the dates due to the pandemic. On the sustainability front I have some really exciting plans for the next three years of my Olympic Campaign, fingers crossed if all the planning goes well, I’ll be chat about them soon.
One last bit from me…! Thanks to Childs Farm and Farmologie for giving me this opportunity to chat, I'm really excited to be partnering with you!
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