“Sustainability is a Mindset” - A Conversation with Priya Kavina
This month, Geartrade’s social media personality, Kalie Lovell was lucky enough to have an awesome conversation with writer, photographer, sustainability advocate, and Geartrade user, Priya Kavina of Kavara Stories.
You may have seen Priya’s recent instagram reels and tiktok videos on the Geartrade social channels where she featured an Osprey backpack that she got from Geartrade for her trek to the Annapurna Base Camp. You may have also read her blog about sustainability and consumerism that we featured in December.
Now it’s time to get to know more about Priya, her personal inspiration, trip to the Himalayas, sustainability tips, and the space she strives to fill in the Outdoor, Travel and Sustainability industries. Without further ado, let’s take it to the interview!
Priya Kavina on the Annapurna Base Camp Trek
From seeing your work, watching your content, and conversing with you, it seems that you have a great interest in sustainability.
What inspired you to take an interest in this topic and lifestyle?
I have a very specific answer to this question! When I was about 8 years old, my older cousin came to visit. He took me grocery shopping and when we were checking out, he told the cashier we didn’t need any bags. This was back in the early 2000s when people weren’t nearly as eco-minded.
As we walked out of there with our arms overflowing with groceries, he explained how damaging single use plastic is to our environment. Later that night, he carried out a daddy-long-legged spider instead of killing it.
Although he didn’t know it, these two acts changed my entire perspective. I learned to care for our planet and everything in it. Now, I know just how important it is to set “green” examples–the simplest acts can shape someone’s view of the world.
How do you incorporate sustainability into your passions and work?
I am an author and photographer on a mission to use art to spread environmental awareness. By combining my passion for sustainability with my thirst to see the world, I travel to bring the realities of climate change to light. Through my writing and visual media, I aim to show others simple steps we can all take to support a healthier, happier, and greener life.
We know you went on a trek to the Annapurna base camp this summer, can you give us a few highlights of this adventure?
Sure! First of all, the Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) trekking route is absolutely beautiful. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in trekking the Himalayas (it’s also a good route to take if this is your first Himalayan trek as it’s lower in altitude). Previously, I trekked the Everest Base Camp (EBC) route, so I had a good idea regarding what to expect and how to prepare myself for this trip. What was different this time though, was the amount of information I learned.
Due to the lower elevations of the ABC trek, these incredible views are more accessible. In fact, the lower part of this route is open to jeeps. On the upside, the accessibility makes this beauty available to more people. More people, though, means the greater the requirement for food, clean water, and waste management. As I trekked by rice fields and numerous gardens, I had thought the food we ate each meal was grown locally. After seeing just how many people pass through the small villages and tea houses along the route, I couldn’t imagine how the small gardens could possibly be enough to feed this many trekkers, along with the locals.
As we trekked, I kept pace with my guide, Gokul. Conversations kept us engaged throughout the day, and I learned so much from someone who has seen the landscape change over the past fifteen years. For one, a lot of the food is driven/carried up the mountain from Pokhara, a nearby city. I also learned the river we followed through the valley is not necessarily safe to drink from. All tea houses and villages settle close to the water source, and unfortunately, their waste washes into it. For this reason, if you look close enough, you’ll see piping running through the forest trees and floor, transporting fresh water from sources above the villages.
Although I learned a lot about life in the mountains, I can’t forget to mention the incredible views as one of the highlights of this trek! You can check out some of my experiences via my Instagram, @kavarastories.
Priya Kavina at the Annapurna Base Camp
What is the toughest part about keeping sustainability in mind while traveling? Do you have any tips to combat it?
Sustainability is a mindset. Like any mindset, things become easier the more you practice them. They become part of you. When you’re starting out, it can be difficult to remember to take your reusables with you, or say “no straw please,” or simply keep yourself from buying just one more souvenir. But if living a sustainable life is something you deeply want, you’ll naturally build these habits. The first step is to focus on why you want to be sustainable. Once it’s coming from the heart, you won’t find it difficult.
The biggest deterrent for many people who want to adopt sustainable habits is being perfect. That is a big task. Every decision has an environmental impact. The biggest advice I have is to do what you can. Every little bit helps!
Why did you choose to reach out to Geartrade a few months back before you set out on your trek?
My goal is to amplify companies and communities that strive to make a difference. Geartrade is doing just that. I deeply connect with Geartrade’s values and agree that we vow to leave only footprints, yet ignore the carbon footprint we leave on the way to the trail. I reached out to collaborate with Geartrade because Geartrade acts. Their actions align with everything they preach, and in a time of environmental crisis, it is action that matters most. I’ve been telling all my friends about your efforts, compassion, and mission and I look forward to doing more good work with Geartrade!
What do you hope to do/create in the travel/outdoor/sustainability industry in the future?
My current goals are to educate and inspire. With technology, virtual experiences, and social media hitting all time highs, I aim to encourage others to reconnect with nature. There’s so much value to be gained from the outdoors. Simply seeing trees can reduce stress, breathing forest air can improve immunity!
Instagram brought a lot of attention to our National Parks over the last few years. Like everything, this has both positive and negative impacts. Thousands of people are now on the move to see these ‘gram worthy sights. I want to encourage people to truly embrace these places and learn about their history rather than doing it all for a picture. I want to excite people to get outside and do so in the most sustainable way possible.
Priya Kavina on the Annapurna Base Camp Trek
Well said, Priya. Let’s all take a page out of her book this year and think about the why, for our sustainability practices in our own lives and let it guide us to make worthwhile choices going forward. Bring that reusable cup or straw, say no to brand new everything, and be the steward that the land you love deserves.
Kalie Lovell: self proclaimed hiker-trash, fiction and non-fiction writer, video content creator, cheese, ramen, and dog lover. As a regular UnNew-repper, she is constantly sharing gear care, maintenance, and repair tips in order to keep her gear in tip top shape for all of her hiking and backpacking adventures. Kalie dreams of an even more accessible, inclusive, and welcoming outdoor industry and wants to share her love of the outdoors with all who are willing to tag along!
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