Fee Drummond on Sustainability, Swimwear and The School Run
Fee Drummond in the Ruffle Maxi Sundress
Here at Seraphina we're deeply interested in sustainability and living in a way that is gentler to the planet. We pride ourselves on our very short supply chain: our garments are all made in Delhi and every aspect of the process is accountable. We're also going green with our shipping, which is now climate neutral. But there is always more we could all be doing, from simple things like growing our own veg to more drastic measures. I had the pleasure of discussing all things sustainable with the wonderful Fee Drummond, who runs the Cadland Estate near Lymington with her husband. She inspired me with her passion and her infectious energy, and I wanted to share our conversation with you.
When did you first become interested in sustainability?
We live in an extraordinary place, surrounded by nature, from the woods to the sea…. but with a view into and over some of the largest commercial shipping in the UK. It’s an extraordinary juxtaposition that I can’t fail to see each time I step out. For example, we have a nature reserve beach and protected coast, but due to strong tides with marine traffic and pollution, it is covered in micro plastic that we spend days picking up. So we have rare flora and fauna such as sea kale, and nesting ringed plovers next to washed up lighters and plastic bottles… We are acutely aware of nature’s struggle with pollution and human destruction every moment of our lives. So being interested in sustainability isn’t an option, it’s a necessity - as it is for us all. When the fog lifts and you start noticing something you can’t stop – it’s like that for my mind’s eye.
Was there a specific trigger or incident that first switched you on to it?
We are in a position of responsibility, as we all are, but with areas allocated to our protection more so, and therefore I feel the need to approach our own change, as a family on this planet, in our life, and across our wider working operations, and to help support creating that change. We all need to start making differences to make bigger waves of change.
Where did you begin?
It’s often overwhelming, especially as we feel helpless watching 400metre container ships float passed coming in from China full of plastic and food and stuff that people don’t need. The scale is galactic, and we are so small. But I think you just have to make a start, and make some decisions that you can actually stick to. For example, the kids and I will only buy or wear swimwear made from recycled ocean plastic this summer. A small change, but a good one, and the feel good factor is great. I personally love making something from nothing, so the challenge of using nature to clean for example - popping lemon rind into vinegar or old banana peel into water then pouring it on plants as fertiliser - I love that kind of thing… I am lucky enough to have a fully composting circular garden and food source, so using food waste to feed the next food is ingrained in our operation already.
Many people find the idea of trying to live sustainably really overwhelming, so what are some simple, easy switches to begin to make change?
I think the number one good piece of advice is take one room in your house. And approach just that. Pile up everything that you buy on repeat and assess it. Seek alternatives and change the system. Even if it’s just the hand soap or some earbuds. My kids are my / our life’s harshest critics ! And they love doing this kind of thing, as it feels like you can make a commitment to change and do it together, so you kind of have to honour the pact.
What has been the biggest hurdle?
Myself! Getting off your ass and deciding to change habits - I really find the pressure from my children is a great motivator. But then there are sooooo many living and lifestyle and product choices out there now, we won’t even think about buying some of the stuff that’s on offer now in 10 years time.
What does nature and being outdoors mean to you?
Just everything! The closer you are to nature, the happier you will be - or that’s how I feel anyway. I think as humans you can become ingrained in a way of life, that becomes conditioned, and that can break the connection or the realisation of a human need for daily connection with nature. If anything lockdown and this pandemic has brought about is a total re-think of how connected you are to nature and or each other. Nature is the answer to everything - and to a good life for humans on this planet.
What simple daily rituals do you practice to protect your emotional and spiritual health?
I run (which I hate) even if it is for ten minutes - to get my heart rate pumping daily. I have to stretch or I feel tight in every way, and do yoga. The more routine I have and the more committed I am to myself and own rituals, the better I am for everyone else. When I let he routine slip and life speeds up, that’s when it all starts to go wrong or off kilter. Keep it simple was my dad’s best advice for life. And having time to think and let your brain digest thoughts whilst mindfully doing something is so good. We stitch, knit, sew, dig potatoes, colour and listen to Greek myth stories…. Something creative and grounding that at the same time lets your brain switch off or flow through thoughts. I find this essential and also a really peaceful way of spending time in family company without an agenda or pressure of doing or achieving something.
Also caring for our trillion little animals, collecting the eggs, running my hands through long grass as we assess the kitchen garden - touching nature basically, feeling it, smelling it… we / I are obsessed! And incorporating ground level food source in our daily lives. I feel so lucky to have been able to create our kitchen garden as a food source for the family - being in it and surrounded by it is almost as important as eating the food itself - growing stuff feels good! And is an essential part of the human spirit which also fosters awareness of seasonality.
How do you educate your children about the importance of sustainability and caring for nature?
They honestly educate me. Again we are so lucky with an extraordinary globe to peer into with the logistical position of being next to one of Europe’s largest ports, but tucked inside Nature Reserves. We chat a lot on our school runs through the New Forest National Park. They are obsessed, to the point of having anxious concern about energy, fuel, nature preservation and restoration.
I think because they know so much about nature, seasons and species, and they see so much of the world going against that, they have an unusually analytical perspective. They know a lot! And worry about a lot! So I have to try and balance that for them and also for what we can realistically achieve.
How does an interest in sustainability manifest in the way you cook and eat?
Another obsession! I have a deep-rooted interest in how to live well. That’s what I care about. We eat the best possible food, everything home grown and home cooked always. We source only local produce and buy in a small, circular-living way. Nutrient content and source footprint being key - we pick, and then cook, and then eat within minutes or hours.
Finally, is there anything that has just proved too hard to switch or give up?
Alcohol! I wouldn’t give that up ever! I now buy local gin, and love placing herbs from the garden in it - nothing gives me more joy than a homegrown herb bundle swizzler!
For more information about The Cadland Estate visit cadland.co.uk