She might have graced our screens in Survivor, but Laura Wells is far from your typical ex-reality TV-star. As a Science Communicator, Laura is passionate about sustainability and keeping our planet safe for the future. She's also a model and featured in our latest Recycled Swimwear Capsule shoot. Following this, we sat down with Laura and picked her brain about life, sustainability and yes... periods on Survivor.
What is your career background?
My career has been a rollercoaster ride of progression and opportunity. I studied a marine biology degree and a law degree and once I had graduated I began modelling full time. I lived in NYC and London modelling and traveling around the world all whilst keeping my passion and curiosity for the natural world. When I moved back to Australia I continued to model but also threw myself at the world of environmental activism and science communication. Today I juggle both modelling and science communication careers with a heavy focus on keeping the planet safe for the future.
What made you decide that was the career for you?
I loved biology at school and knew that a career in science was for me. I fell into the world of curvy modelling while at university and blending the two together eventually happened over time when I was old enough and wise enough to realise I needed to do what makes me happy and what gives me purpose every day.
What does being sustainably responsible mean to you?
Sustainability is such a throw away word now, everyone is tacking it onto something without thinking about its true meaning. Sustainability, at it's heart, is being educated, empathetic, conscious and active. It is as much about your purchases as it is your actions, how you vote, and how you speak. Being sustainable is understanding the entire lifecycle of a thing or product and how it affects the planet and the people around you and mitigating those effects to the best of your ability.
Are brands that have a social and sustainable conscious important to you?
Absolutely. Brands that match my ethos and values are brands I support. Every time we purchase something we are voting with our wallets. You have so much power to construct the world around you with your purchasing power so support those that have people and planet in mind.
What was your first impression when you heard about period underwear?
I thought it was fantastic. A way to mitigate so much plastic ending up in landfill and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. I try to reduce my single use plastic consumption as much as possible and period undies are a way any menstruating woman can achieve this.
How many years have you been wearing period underwear?
I started wearing Modibodi around 4-5 years ago which means I have significantly reduced my single use plastic during my cycles and also encouraged a lot of other friends and family to try them out too! Never forget you can set an example to those around you that can make a huge, ongoing impact.
What would you say to people who are sceptical to try?
These are life changing, in the best possible way. With everything in life you can't judge it unless you have tried it personally. So give it a go and do some research first if you are on the fence. Check out the websites and reviews. At the end of the day, you are making a great decision for you and the planet by choosing period undies.
How did people manage their periods on Survivor?
Oh, it was a tough one out there. Due to the fact we had no running water to wash with, only billabongs to swim in and no way to wash our clothes we were supplied tampons and pads by the production team. I used the tampons with the cardboard applicators, completely plastic free and able to be disposed of in the composting toilet. The harsh Australian outback is relentless so you got to do what you got to do!
Did you take any Modibodi with you?
No, I couldn't take any with me as I had no way of really washing them in the outback and also you are VERY limited on the number of clothing items you can take.
How can other TV stars or influencers use their platforms to help promote sustainability?
People with a large following have the ability to influence a lot in this world. I really wish these people would use their influence for good. They really need to be tapping into their values and what they believe in for it to be successful though and I think a lot of people with a large following haven't realised their potential to make effective change right now.
By promoting brands that have strong core values and ethics, not fast fashion brands, influencers can help to shift consumerism into a positive space.
What is the most common question you get asked post-Survivor?
Where did you poop and why did you vote for George? (Laughs) Definitely the first followed by the latter. I love it when people ask me what was my favourite thing about competing on Survivor was and it would have to be meeting a great group of diverse humans and getting to connect with the Aussie outback. Living under the stars, sleeping in the dirt for 35 nights, looking for food, understanding the environment are all things I really cherish about the experience.
Who is one person you’d love to have dinner with, alive or dead?
I think Ruth Bader-Ginsberg would have been an interesting, influential, insightful and inspiring person to sit down with and listen too. She advocated for women's rights and equality in a time where it was not only unfashionable but also detrimental to do so.
Were you brought up in a family that was conscious about sustainability or was it something you found later?
This is something I found later in life. My family was always water wise growing up and we learnt valuable environmental messages but taking it to the next level is something I instilled within my own value system with more rigor as I witnessed the incredible amounts of plastic pollution on remote beaches all over the world as I modelled and travelled to far flung corners of the globe. Seeing this avoidable pollution really made me take note of my own environmental footprint and start changing my consumption and purchasing for the better.
What’s one thing we can all do to live a more sustainable life today?
There are so many things we can do each and every day to make the future a better place. Reducing single use plastic by purchasing great reusable items that last is a fantastic way to limit items going to landfill or entering our waterways. Also divesting your superannuation into a fund that does not support fossil fuels is a huge contribution. Australians have a whooping $3.4 trillion invested in superannuation and a large portion of that is invested in the fossil fuel industry, contributing to climate change. Find out what your super is funding and then look for a fund that has the future and planet in mind!