Wellness Series: Travels with Nina
Today we share a recent interview with Nina Karnikowski, Nina is an author, travel writer, sustainability advocate & a writing & creativity teacher. As the author of Go Lightly: How to Travel Without Hurting the Planet and Make a Living Living: Be Successful Doing What You Love, Nina is an advocate for promoting more sustainable ways of travelling and living.
Read on to learn more about what inspires Nina, her thoughts on sustainability in beauty, and what keeps her grounded.
1. You recently published Go Lightly: How to Travel without Hurting the Planet, tell us more about it and what inspired you to write it.
Go Lightly is a practical guide to treading gently on the earth while we travel. I wrote it because it was the resource I was looking for but couldn’t find, after an eye-opening travel writing assignment to the Canadian Arctic in late 2019. I visited a town called Churchill, the ‘polar bear capital of the world’, where I learnt about the impact our consumptive human behaviours (including flying on planes) were having on the bears and our planet. I returned home with the realisation that I couldn’t continue to travel with the speed and frequency I had been. I emailed my editors saying I needed some time off and set to work discovering how I, and all of us, could continue travelling in a way that was more connected and reciprocal – to ourselves, to the communities we visit, and to the natural world.
2. Your book explores the idea of travelling in our own backyard in order to reduce our carbon footprint. Given this, plus the challenges of COVID, what are your top 3 must-see destinations in Australia?
The Warrumbungle National Park, filled with otherworldly rock formations created by volcanic activity 13 million years ago. The hikes there are some of the most stunning in Australia, and it’s also Australia’s only Dark Sky Park.
Ningaloo Reef in WA. We stayed at the incredible eco-resort Sal Salis, where we sipped rosé on the coral-strewn private beach, hiked through the gorge spotting black-footed wallaroos and red kangaroos, and headed out to the reef to swim with whale sharks and manta rays.
Queensland’s Daintree National Park is one of the richest and most complex ecosystems on earth. Millions of years ago, most of Australia was covered with this tropical rainforest. Lots of it was cleared for development and farming, but we’re so lucky that this last refuge of ancient forest has been preserved and protected.
3. Sustainability and being more conscious on our environmental impact can be a difficult journey to start, do you have any tips or resources for beginners. What are some easy changes we can make to reduce our environmental impact?
My favourite resource is The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis, written by former UN Secretary for Climate Christiana Figueres and her UN political strategist, Tom Rivett-Carnac. It includes some fantastic action plans for how we can move towards the carbon negative, regenerative world we need to create. For beginners, three of the most impactful things we can do is switching to a plant-based diet, flying less, and taking action to push systemic change - signing petitions, voting the right people in, and having your voice heard in whatever way you can, even if that just means talking about the changes you’re making with friends.
4. What are your thoughts on sustainability & the beauty industry. Where can the beauty industry improve?
I think we could do with less beauty products being created in general. More focus on multi-purpose products – a cleanser that’s also a moisturiser, a sunscreen that’s also concealer, that sort of thing. Less is always better, especially with packaging. Beauty products are already packaged, so I’d like to see the extra boxes, bags and plastic wrapping being phased out, too.
5. How do you start your day?
I’m usually up before the sun, and start the day by sitting at my writing table and pouring some Chinese red tea. After that I free-write for about 20 minutes, which I’ve done ever since reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way over a decade ago. It’s my way of making sense of the world and clearing out some of the 70,000 thoughts that supposedly run through our heads each day. I’ll then either run on the beach with our dog Milka and swim in the ocean, go for a bush walk, or do some yoga.
6. What do you turn to, to make you feel your best?
I turn to nature. Whether I’m swimming in the ocean, hiking in the bush or sleeping out under the stars, that’s when I feel my most beautiful, present and strong.
7. What does beauty mean to you?
It means living your truth. The most beautiful people in my life are those who are the most authentic, and who don’t care what anyone else thinks of them. Also kindness, compassion and generosity are three qualities that shine through as true beauty, in my eyes.
8. What is your skincare philosophy & routine? & any thoughts on natural beauty products.
I have a very basic approach to beauty, a gift from my dad who still looks incredible at 75. “If I won’t put it in my mouth, I won’t put it on my skin,” he used to say, while walking around the garden with an egg and lemon mix in his hair, and olive oil on his face. I don’t go quite that minimal, but I do use a homemade scrub made from coffee grounds and coconut oil on my face most mornings, then use jojoba oil to both cleanse and moisturise. I use RMS cream concealer and bronzer and a lick of mascara, and am now devoted to your Impeccable Skin tinted sunscreen, and Suntegrity mineral sunscreen lip gloss. Sun protection is so important here in Australia, as is good hydration.
*Images of Nina used with permission and taken by her husband Peter.