Conscious conversations with UCT student Stella Hertantyo about life in lockdown: Green Route

I catch up with Stella Hertantyo, undergraduate in BA Multimedia Journalism at the University of Cape Town

Lockdown Life is a series that I launched during lockdown. Catch up with Cape Town Eats founder Pamela McOnie, designer Das Lyon, Cape Town Vegan Garth Tavares, Faithjuice owner Joy-Anne Bromilow, Twyg founder Jackie May and The Beach Co-op founder Aaniyah Omardien.

What do I think life will be like, post-lockdown? I hope that we will have a renewed sense of what is most important in life and how little we need in order to be content, a greater sense of community, an empathetic and active citizenry, and a deep understanding that we should never take what we have for granted.

By Stella Hertantyo

Cape Town has been my home for all my life. I was born and raised here, and at the age of 21, I currently have no aspirations to live anywhere else anytime soon – I love this city. I am in my final year of my undergraduate this year, and I am studying towards a BA Multimedia Journalism at the University of Cape Town.

I guess my sustainable fashion journey started long before I knew I was on it! I have been thrifting, wearing preloved and loving local for years. But, my consciously eco-aware journey began through my interest in sustainable and ethical fashion, at the beginning of 2019. I had to start a blog for a university assignment, and I wanted the theme of the blog to be on something that I was curious about, but did not yet know a lot about, in the hopes that it would push me to delve deeper and learn more. So, I chose the theme of “sustainable fashion”, because it was a concept that had been swirling around my brain for some time before.

I called my blog, The Conscious Conversation, and it began as a place to document my own journey. Through my blog, I ended up doing a lot of research, following a lot of new accounts and conducting interviews with people in the local sustainable and ethical fashion space.

Somewhere along the way, something that started as a university assignment became a passion. And, what had started as an exploration into sustainable fashion, branched into an interest and curiosity about eco-conscious living in general.

I still stay at home, with my mom and my sister. We also have two lovely dogs. Pinelands is a super suburban area, and there isn’t much exciting going on here, but I went to school in Pinelands and I like taking strolls around the quiet streets, so it holds a special place in my heart.

A typical, pre-lockdown day in my week My life, pre-lockdown was a completely different pace! On an average weekday, I would be up and out of the house before 7am, to miss the traffic and catch the Jammie (UCT shuttle) to my 8am lecture. Then, I usually have lectures in the morning. If I have breaks between lectures, you’ll find me in the library, doing course readings, catching up with a friend on campus, or in Her Campus meetings. I usually get home by about 3pm and work for a few more hours, before trying to fit in some exercise – usually a run around the streets of Pinelands. If I’m not making dinner, I’ll squeeze in a bit more work, before calling it a night. I’m the early-to-bed-early-to-rise type, so I’m usually in bed by 10pm haha! I feel like I’m rushing around a lot of the time, but that has all changed now.

The creation of cnscs_ We started cnscs_ at the beginning of this year (2020), and it is the product of a wonderful friendship that Masego and I share. After meeting Masego in March, 2019, and having many chats, sending voicenotes, taking OOTD photos drinking many cups of tea, we realised that we wanted to share our thoughts and conversations about sustainable life/style with whoever was interested and willing to learn and listen.

At its core, cnscs_ is a platform for us to share our journeys, what we have learnt, who and where we continue to learn from, and we hope to be able to provide people with information that they can apply to their own situation, in pursuit of a more conscious life. We call it a platform, because it is not about us claiming the things we know and prescribing that to others – it is much more about sharing, collaboration, connection and community. It is about us growing alongside the people who would like to be a part of our cncscs_ community. As we like to say, “look good, do good, and don’t break the bank while you’re at it.”

Lockdown Looks: Level 3

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🌈 // Lockdown Looks . Hello cnscs_ people! Now that we can get dressed up to go outside, which we are very excited about, we created an outfit challenge that is inspired by level 3-friendly things to do while social distancing. . We also wanted to use this challenge to amplify BIPOC people who inspire us. We hope that you will join us in sharing your lockdown looks and amplifying BIPOC accounts that you love: . Monday (29/06): Show us how you style your mask, so that it keeps you protected AND looking stylish. What BIPOC-owned brand do you love and is on your wishlist? . Tuesday (30/06): Create an outfit that sparks joy for you or to make someone else smile. Who’s a BIPOC that influences your style or whose style brings joy to you? . Wednesday (01/07): Show us what you’d wear on a trip to the post office when you send a loved one a card or letter. Since post cards can be like little artworks, who’s a BIPOC artist that you love? . Thursday (02/07): What would you wear on a trip to the bookstore? We hope that you are using this as an opportunity to invest in some anti-racist reads. What book have you enjoyed or learned a lot from written by a BIPOC? . Friday (03/07): Zoom parties are still a thing. Who’s a BIPOC musician you’ll be playing at your online party? . If you join in, please tag us, because we’d love to see all your Lockdown Looks outfits 🥰 . P.s. In South Africa, lockdown level 3 means that we have a few more freedoms. But, we are also at a higher risk now, more than ever. So, we want to encourage you to please keep social distancing, wearing your masks, washing your hands and staying at home as much as possible. . [Image description: A colourful graphic that outlines the prompts for the #lockdownlooks challenge.]

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Collaboration is a very important part of cnscs_. We recently hosted a 5-day, Lockdown Looks outfit challenge. We created the challenge, because when lockdown Level 3 came around, we were very excited at the prospect of getting dressed up to go outside again – even if just for a walk around the block! And, we wanted to share that joy with our cnscs_ community. But, even more important than the joyful outfits, we wanted to use this challenge to highlight, amplify and share BIPOC brands, style influencers, writers and musicians for each day of the challenge. We loved seeing everyone’s stylish outfits and looking into all the BIPOC that were shared! At the end of the week, we compiled an article that shared some of the Lockdown Looks outfits and a complete list of all of the BIPOC brands, style influencers, artists, writers and musicians that were shared throughout the week.

Her Campus UCT

Her Campus UCT is a student-run online publication and the first South African chapter of Her Campus International. We provide an online publishing platform for student writers and creatives at the University of Cape Town and we hope to create a safe space for expression, reflection, engagement and growth.

I first got involved with Her Campus UCT, as a staff writer and social media contributor, during my second year at UCT. I was drawn to Her Campus, because I was looking for a way to build up my writing repertoire and gain experience writing for a publication, while also having the freedom to choose what I want to write about.

Lockdown has posed many challenges for us, as a student organisation, mainly because we cannot host any of our usual campus events, talks and initiatives. However, since we are a digital publication, we have managed to keep publishing articles. I’ve been so encouraged by the number of students that have asked to write articles for us during this period. Since a lot of us do have a bit more time on our hands, I’m glad that Her Campus UCT is able to create a platform for writers and creatives to express themselves when they feel they need to.

We have had to find creative ways to engage with our community since we cannot host campus events. One initiative that we hosted this term, was our online, Lockdown Art Club. The online art club aimed to be a safe space for anyone looking for a little creative escape and inspiration during this time. We posted two prompts per week (on Monday and Friday) people could use as inspiration to create something in any medium that they chose. After the art club was complete, we compiled a digital zine with all of the artworks that were submitted, which people can look back at if they are ever in need of some inspiration!

Lockdown Life: Five Favourites

Slowing down. I have always been a huge advocate for slow living, and being able to slow down has been, by far, my favourite part of lockdown. The first few months of this year were a constant rush for me, so this change of pace was oh so welcome. It has also allowed me to realise and accept that productivity will look different in this season. Slow mornings are my favourite. I’m an early riser, so I love waking up and sitting in silence for a while, while I drink my tea, read a few pages of my book and go over what I want to get done in the day, before heading to my desk and getting to it. If I’m honest, my desk has been where I have spent most of lockdown!

Reading more has been another joy of lockdown. I read a lot of academic papers for my degree, but I often don’t find the time to read for pleasure. Lockdown has changed that I’m pleased to be finding the time to get lost in books again.

I’ve spent many happy hours in the kitchen, baking and cooking. I find it super soothing and relaxing to be able to prepare food for my family. I learnt how to make bread, for the first time, early on in lockdown, and now I am the primary family bread baker – we don’t buy bread anymore! This is a picture of the first loaf I ever baked, and I have improved since then.

I’ve also been so grateful to have the time to try out new hobbies. I love creating, in many different forms, and there is always something new I want to learn. Most recently, I have been learning how to crochet, knit and create digital illustrations.

Every day, my mom and I stroll around the neighbourhood, in the evening or the morning, and take the dogs for a walk. We’ve discovered lots of new roads that we have never walked down before, and these daily walks bring me a lot of serenity.

My Green Route in Lockdown

I have been living an incredibly insular lockdown life, and I’ve only left Pinelands less than a handful of times! So, while I would usually have lots of places to share, lockdown has changed the way I move, and my green route consists of a few special places:

My mom spends many, loving hours in our garden, at home, and it feels like a little slice of green Heaven! I often sit in the sun, during my lunch breaks and for breakfast, while listening to the birds and taking in the fynbos smells. Sometimes I even have solo afternoon picnics, while I read my book.

As I mentioned before, walks around the neighbourhood have become one of my favourite parts of my day. Seeing your suburb on foot is very different from rushing around in a car, and I’ve enjoyed discovering many roads that I did not know about before.

Now that we are not restricted to our residential areas, I’ve been heading to the mountain for walks at Rhode Mem and Newlands Forest. I always find that having those tall trees towering over me, and the crisp blue sky, makes me feel so serene.

Lastly, we buy our fresh produce from an organic micro-farm called Back Area Gardens at Oude Molen Eco Village. It is always a treat to see where our fresh fruit and veg comes from and I love being able to support local, small scale farming initiatives.

Stella’s Typical Lockdown Day

What gets me through a lockdown day? Making time for a walk around the neighbourhood.

What do I appreciate the most about lockdown? I’m so grateful for my serene and loving home.

What makes you happy? Slow mornings and quiet evenings.

What do I think life will be like, post-lockdown? I hope that we will have a renewed sense of what is most important in life and how little we need in order to be content, a greater sense of community, an empathetic and active citizenry, and a deep understanding that we should never take what we have for granted.

#PayitForwardZA

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Published by Melanie Farrell

Founder of Green Route ZA - the path to eco-conscious living. I live in Cape Town, South Africa.

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