Richardson - Take care of the planet and animals, be conscious 

Richardson makes it possible for more of us to consume consciously by sharing his passion for animals and the environment, especially in the health and fitness community in Shanghai.

Where are you from and what brought you to Shanghai?

I'm from Venezuela and I came here seven years ago because I've been in love with China ever since I was a kid. I came here pursuing my dream.

What does sustainability mean to you?

The definition of sustainability to me starts with the environment, taking care of mother earth before we take care of the rest, the economy and social part.  Taking good care of the environment sustains people, so we can have healthy animal and human beings on earth. After that, we can think of business, but we have to think of the environment first. 

What are you passionate about?

I'm passionate about being active, anything related to moving and using my body. I'm passionate about sports, fitness and when it comes to nature I'm passionate about animals. I have a lot of love and compassion for animals. 

How do you do to consume consciously?

I try not to use a lot of plastic so everytime I go shopping I always bring my own bags. Plastic is one of the number one things affecting the environment. Consuming consciously is also one of the many reasons I'm a vegan. When you have a plant-based diet you don't waste a lot, almost everything is used. Unfortunately, we don't have proper ways or places to throw away the rest of our waste. We don't have the facilities to collect waste by classification. 

What else could you do to consume more consciously?

I'd like to drive less, by driving I'm also polluting the air and it's not good for the environment. Shanghai is a big city, sometimes you need to drive from place to place, so I don't really have a choice if I want to be comfortable.  I'd like to live in a place where I could be free to get on my skates or bicycle and drive less. 

When did you become more conscious of your consumption?

Since forever. Even as a kid I had compassion for animals. I've always cared about not throwing garbage on the streets and keeping everything tidy and clean. I'm always aware of not polluting too much, I've always cared, but you don't see that everywhere. 

I think the difference lies in education and culture. Some countries have access to so much stuff and different kinds of stuff. People just want bigger and better, they just want to buy whatever they want, they don't buy consciously, they don't buy what they need. Most of the things they buy just end up in the trash. So I think people need to be educated to they buy what they need, buy the right amount and try to waste less money and produce less garbage. 

How would more people becoming conscious of their consumption change the world?

The first thing that comes to mind is that if more people cared about consuming consciously we would save a lot of lives. There are a lot of people wasting food, restaurants as well, they don't think about people in need. By buying less would reduce the amount of garbage thrown away and that would lead to less environmental pollution. Every supermarket with products that are about to expire or restaurants with excess food would donate them to people in need. 

What’s the easiest part of consuming consciously?

Knowing what you're eating and what you're consuming. 

What’s the hardest part of consuming consciously?  

Sticking to it and continuing to consume consciously is the hardest part to me. Sometimes we start with a very organised plan, but because we don't have the time or because of convenience we start consuming unconsciously again. 

What are your top 3 practical changes?

  • Use less plastic, take your own bags when you buy groceries.
  • At home, you can start separating your trash. That makes it easier for you and the person collecting your trash to recycle.

  • Post information about what you're doing to consume consciously on your social media. Share, the more people see, the more they'll take action.

What are the biggest challenges we face today in the food industry?

The reliability of the source, especially in a country like China is a big challenge. Even being vegetarian is hard because you could get poisoned by the chemicals used to grow vegetables. As a foreigner, you might buy vegetables that are out of season because you don’t know when which vegetables are supposed to be in season. We buy whatever's green and beautiful, but it might be grown using a lot of chemicals.

People also don't read labels enough. We don't always understand what's in the products we're buying. Some companies lie to consumers, using key words to sell their products faster, but if you check the ingredients what they claim isn't true. They just use words to sell their products at all cost, even if it damages people's health. 

If the whole world was listening, what would you say?

Please take care of the planet and animals, please be conscious. 

What do you do?

I'm in charge of operations for a company that manufactures medical products, I'm also a part-time fitness coach and motivation monster.

Cornelia BlignautComment