If you’re asking us, every day should be Earth Day. And it pretty much can be – it comes down to how we choose to live each day: what we do, what we buy, what we don’t buy, and the changes we make to live more harmoniously with Mama Nature. To fuel our fire, we look to women like Susan Hardjono, founder of Toko! – everyday basics for low-impact living. We stole a slice of Susan’s day to ask her about Toko! and where it all began.
What does Earth Day mean to you?
For me, it's a time to reflect more deeply on our responsibility of living in harmony with nature. We live in a world of convenience, but do we really need this if it means damaging the planet long-term for such short-term gain?
What were you up to before Toko was born, and what inspired you to start your own sustainability-focused business?
I was working as a designer in e-commerce and learning new skills after a long while in print publishing. I wanted to put the new skills I learned into a project I was passionate about and sustainable living was an easy decision to make. I wanted to create something that helps spark a change in someone to live more sustainably and the Toko! range gives them a simple way to start. For us it's more about starting a small habit that grows into tackling the more challenging ones as you travel along your path of sustainable living.
What’s the driving-force belief/principle that Toko! lives and breathes?
Our motto is 'Together, we're better'. We believe that small acts make an impact. You don't have to do everything all the time. No one is perfect! Our approach is always positive and nurturing – we want to guide our community in a gentle and encouraging way.
What’s your favourite Toko! product and why?
Ooh, that's a hard one! But I'd have to say the TOKO Starter Kit, which is what we launched the brand with. I use it all the time and always have one of the items from the set in my bag. They're quite small and light, but they carry so much as they expand quite a lot!
What’s your bestseller?
Our BAMBU Cotton Rounds have been very popular.
If you could invite three people to dinner (living or dead), who would they be and why?
This will be no surprise to anyone who knows me, but I'd invite Keanu Reeves first, then perhaps Jacinda Ardern because she's such an inspiration and brilliant leader, then Julia Busuttil Nishimura who would share a beautiful dinner with us. I love her approach to simple, delicious homemade food.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Teleportation, that would save a lot of carbon emissions (and avoid jet lag)!
What are three simple things people could start (or stop) doing today to live more sustainably?
i) Stop buying products that come in plastic – there are alternatives if you look for them.
ii) Eat meat-free at least once or twice a week.
iii) Use public transport more if you’re able or have a dedicated car-free day.
Name three sustainability-focused businesses you admire and tell us why.
i) Girlfriend Collective is an incredible brand and I love how they do business. When Toko! first started, they reposted an image of our TALI tote on their Instagram and we gained so many followers in the US – off the back of that we were discovered by Goop, who now stocks Toko! Girlfriend Collective have been great supporters of us from the start and we love how transparent they are when it comes to the manufacture of their garments, the inclusivity and diversity in their campaigns showing all ages, ethnicities and body shapes – their seasonal colour ranges are always so fun! Love them.
ii) Hike and Seek Jimmy and Mette offer laidback guided tours of the most beautiful walking spots in Victoria and they have been hit hard during current lockdowns. They're both such gentle, nature-loving people. Buy some gift vouchers from them for sure!
iii) Honey Fingers! Nic is an urban beekeeper who supplies honey to local businesses like All Are Welcome Bakery and Pidapipo, and he always seems to be doing interesting collabs with artists like floral designer Hattie Malloy. Nic also has a very soothing voice if you hear him on Instagram stories – oh and he writes poetry too. Quite the renaissance man!