Tell us about yourself and your work?
I’m Alice Bray, 24 years old, born and raised in beautiful Wellington, NZ. Graduated Victoria University of Wellington in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts Double Major in Political Science and Media Studies and a minor in Sociology - and currently working in Procurement at the Ministry of Education. But the not-so-side hustle and extra fun part, I am the founder and content creator (or one-woman-band if you like) of the information hub Consciousness.
What is your mission with Consciousness?
Consciousness was the brainchild of years and years of frustration with content on social we were pro-actively or passively consuming in our daily lives, that to me seemed to perpetuate waste, living your unauthentic self, and having to consume in a way that you didn’t need to think about the consequences of the dollars you spent. I knew there was hundreds and thousands of initiatives out there that had ethical, sustainable and social impact causes but I couldn’t understand why people weren’t getting on board and consuming better. Did they not know? Did they not care? Could they not afford to? Then in October of 2018 I decided enough was enough, I was done looking around waiting for someone to fill this void - so I brainstormed what I could do to make change, and landed with a social media based information hub called Consciousness, with a mission to inform and inspire us as consumers to be better and break up that fake content.
Where are you based?
Wellington - for now! But the beauty of technology means when I’m on the go and around the country Consciousness doesn’t stop it’s content.
What got you interested in starting Consciousness?
In my professional life I ensure government is able to spend money effectively and get value for money outcomes from contracts. The power of dollars spent well vs. the ineffectiveness and long-term negative impact of dollars being spent without thought is detrimental to our society. We see day in and day out the impact human consumption has on the planet from unsustainable farming practices to feed the masses, to the fast-fashion industry producing tonnes of waste each year to meet seasonal trends, to slave labour practices in the manufacturing of our technologies and appliances. But walking into a store as a consumer, those messages are hidden - purposefully. So I wanted my knowledge of procurement and supply chains to transcend my professional life and to start walking the talk in my personal life - and why focus on myself when I could share my consumer life changes with an audience who could do the same thing.
You have highlighted dozens of products (including Necesse!) - how do you find them and what do you look for in a product?
Research, research and more research. My whole point of Consciousness was to act as an information hub - I don’t get paid thousands of dollars to feature brands, I don’t endorse products as a publicity stunt - it is truly all about knowing there is information out there about groups like Necesse doing EPIC things, which a lot of are small business with strong women at the helm. I look for anything and everything that has an ethical, sustainable or social impact feature whether that be a buy-one give-one scheme, a fair-trade certification, a small community run business, a sustainably sourced supply chain you’ve got my attention, and then I dig further to make sure there’s no green-washing/misleading going on. Sustainability is trendy right now - so we need to be vigilant. If I find a product that says it ‘supports’ ‘endorses’ ‘promotes’ sustainable sourcing but I can’t find any evidence of that being put into practice then I won't feature it.
Transparency is key in our consumer world, and we don’t need more misinformation in our lives for organisations not walking the talk.
My most favourite thing is to promote women in business, as women are the most negatively impacted by climate change, poverty and slavery - all of which correlate to our consumer habits. But I also look for fundraisers and street appeals because consuming is more than spending money, it’s about using up resources, and I think if you’re able to use your own resources (time and money) to help others, then why wouldn’t you.
What have you enjoyed most about your work with Consciousness?
The engagement from my audience and featured groups - there are so many people that are so grateful that their message is getting out there for more people to see and participate in. Knowledge is power, and if you don’t know your options how can you make informed choices? Opening up the conversation on conscious consumption and seeing the positive reaction from my audience gives me more faith that someone somewhere made the choice to consume better.
What has been your biggest learning curve from your work?
Balance. We all have bills to pay, social occasions to attend, work to do, hobbies to enjoy - the list goes on! Running Consciousness alongside my day job takes up time, a lot of time - so if I don’t get a feature up when I want, or the uptake on a particular feature wasn’t what I thought it would be, or my brain isn’t on the researching vibe - I know to take a breath, and get some balance back. The downside is it can feel like I’m looking at a screen a lot, so when it’s been a big week and all I want to do is sit down with some Ben&Jerry’s and talk with my partner then I’ll do that. The world isn’t going to stop spinning because your to-do list wasn’t complete.
What are your upcoming goals?
I’m giving a presentation on conscious consumption in Auckland in March so to smash that one out of the park is the short term goal. Long term, continue fighting the patriarchy (of course), supporting women in business, and continue with Consciousness as we are gaining more traction every week and there are so many more things to be featured!
Do you have any other final advice for people looking to live more ethically and sustainably?
Living life more ethically and sustainably is not about one keep cup, a minimalist wardrobe and some reusable straws and off you go feeling like your consumer job is done (but they can be a 10/10 place to start if they work for you though!). It’s about engaging with how you are consuming, knowing what your values are as a consumer, and making better choices for the rest of your beautiful life - and if you inspire people to do the same along the way then kudos to ya! We all have different incomes and responsibilities, so you do what works for you, just be conscious about it. For me, I started with donating clothes to various charity groups, buying organic/free range produce where I could and switching to cosmetics/toiletries that were cruelty free - and that is just my beginning.
Know that as a consumer you have a choice, and there are so many groups out there that would benefit the planet and people more by having you consuming from them.
How can people find out more about your work?
The best place is on my instagram page @consciousnessnz which is the main hub, and start engaging with the content that you vibe with. I get heaps of messages from all sorts of people alerting me to their epic work which I love, so never hesitate to get in touch through the DMs or give me an email at email@example.com .
P.s Necesse, you are changing lives. Keep it up xx