Going Green loves meeting people around the world who share our passion for sustainability. We had the chance to meet with Larissa Swayze, the founder of Of Houses and Trees, to discuss why she started her website and what changes she has seen over the years.
Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
My site is called Of Houses and Trees because it began – eight years ago – as a love letter to those two things. Architecture is something I’ve been interested in since I was a child. I especially loved old, character homes. When I was younger, I would draw pictures of existing buildings or design houses for my dolls and build them out of cardboard. I also spent a lot of time running through the field and forest near my house. And in the summers my family and I would go camping in the mountains. Nature and our relationship to it was never something we consciously talked about – it was just there in everything we did. After high school I decided I would earn a diploma in architectural technology. My goal was I would eventually continue on and get a degree. I ended up working in an architect’s office for five years. Although I developed an amazing relationship with my coworkers, I could tell that architecture wasn’t the right path for me. So I went back to school, got an honours degree in English and creative writing and started Of Houses and Trees.
What is a fun fact about you?
I’m also a dance artist and a musician and I love making art in different forms. It’s such a powerful way to communicate and create relationships.
What was your motivation to get into this industry?
I feel a huge pull to do whatever I can to spread information on sustainable design and living and to live as eco-consciously as I can. Sustainability is one of those things that once the light has switched on – once you’ve seen the cost of not doing anything – you can never switch it off. I’m passionate about every area that impacts the environment. From forest conservation to waste management to green product development, but because my background is in architecture, I mostly focus on the sustainable design angle.
Why do you think climate change/sustainability is such an important topic today?
It’s important because if we continue down the path we’re on – taking from our planet without giving anything in return – a point will come where we can’t turn back. As many scientists and other experts are currently saying, that point is right now.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
I like to say that one day we won’t have to talk about sustainability anymore – because everything will be sustainable. I’m an optimist at heart – even though I’m also realistic and see the severity of the situation. But in 10 years I’m hoping we are well on our way to living in a more circular and transparent world. Where we won’t have to worry so much about where the products we’re buying came from or what they’re made of or where they’ll go at the end of their life cycle, because all of these things will be built right into the design and production processes.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
I can’t stress enough how much making small changes matter. Not only do these daily adjustments to how we live our lives make a difference, but they become something we can keep building on. So pick one thing – just one! And do it today. Buy reusable cloth produce bags, start cleaning your home with vinegar instead of chemicals, buy your clothing secondhand, purchase items for your home from sustainable and ethical brands. The list truly goes on and on!
What positive changes are you seeing?
People and the mainstream media are starting to talk about sustainability on a regular basis. I have conversations now that would never have happened even five years ago. Things that were once considered “alternative” like eating plant-based or solar panels or zero waste living are becoming more accepted and not just thought of as things tree-huggers do.
What are your social media tags so people can follow you?
Thank you Larissa for taking the time to share your story. Be sure to follow Larissa’s journey.