Leading with Purpose: Nat Archibald on career, family and living sustainably

We recently sat down with Nat Archibald, a long-time Better Basics supporter (and subscriber!), super mom and multifaceted woman who we’re inspired by. Below, Nat shares some great nuggets about setting (and achieving) sustainable goals while living a full-on life with young kids, a big job and many passions. Nat has truly mastered the art of making choices that align with her values. Read on!

Tell us a little about you, and what is life like as Nat?

Sure! I love my career and am passionate about employee wellbeing. I’m so lucky that in my role at Clio as VP People, I get to lead People and Culture for an incredible organization that has a “people-first” mindset, actively encourages employee wellbeing and works to close the access-to-justice gap to transform the legal industry and justice system. Since I have a very intense and hands-on job and am also a mom to two young kids, it’s important to me that I find systems that support my life, give me time back and allow me to enjoy as much time with my family as possible, without having to sacrifice my values. Aligning myself with values-led organizations is incredibly important to me, which is what drew me to Better Basics.

How do you balance the demands of your career with raising a family?

Honestly, I don't! If you know someone who does this well, let me know ;) I think it's all about setting reasonable expectations for myself and my family—some days are overly dominated by work, and other days I get a ton of quality time in with my family. I try to build small, attainable daily practices (playing a game or reading with my kids, cooking together, etc.) to maximize time with family, and then take good chunks of time off when I can so that we get protected time together after busy periods of work. I've also learned that managing my own energy and recharging effectively allows me to show up as a better mom and colleague, and when I'm "my best self" I'm more attuned to them in those moments. It's about the quality over the quantity of time spent together.

Tell us how sustainability shows up in your daily life? Do you find it challenging to live consciously with so much going on? 

For me it's about small, incremental changes in my daily routine that (I hope!) will yield a big positive impact over time. In 2020 I made a commitment to not bring in any single-use plastic containers for the items I use in my home maintenance (hand soap, body wash, dish soap, cleaners etc).  I couldn't ignore the impact that these items were having on the environment. Better Basics has helped me maintain that commitment without sacrificing what was important to me about the quality of the products. I also have been re-examining other daily practices such as reusing things or repurposing them when possible, and trying to limit my consumption on certain items. Mindfulness has been key to changing my habits and I've got a long way to go. I try and keep myself conscious that it's an ongoing commitment and process when I feel guilty about not doing more.

What are your top tips for reducing plastic that you’d encourage others to adopt?

Find one "category" of change that would work for you—it can feel overwhelming when you think about all the changes that are possible. For instance, maybe it's a commitment to always use a reusable water bottle, or maybe like myself it's just starting with soaps/cleaners. For me it was hard to give up my favourite hair products because I couldn't find an alternative I loved, so I started with something different (home cleaners). Then when I found the soaps I loved with Better Basics, I learned that they also carried self-care items that encouraged me to open myself up to changing new "categories" of products as well. Don't beat yourself up if you slip, you can pick your efforts back up when that happens! Small changes make a big impact and it's important for you to sustain change in the long run.

How do your personal values impact your everyday decisions? 

I believe strongly in leaving others and the planet better than how I found them. I have a strong social justice value and like to think that I'm a very accountable person. I try to bring this into every encounter whether it be my work, my personal life, my goals or my habits/behaviours. I feel strongly accountable to other humans; to bring my best self into our interactions so that we are all engaging in the world as better global citizens. I also feel this same accountability to our planet. I want my kids to enjoy the beautiful experiences that I've been fortunate enough to have in this world and to look ahead at the rest of their lives with optimism.

What are some of your favourite sustainable products in your home right now and why? 

Better Basics is a huge part of my sustainable “system”—the Simple Suds are a favourite in our house because the coconut oil base is so gentle on our skin and we use it as shower gel as well as hand soaps. I also love the stainless steep soap pump bottles because they’re beautiful and indestructible. My kids drop the bottles daily when washing their hands and there is not a scratch or dent to be found. 

Nat at the sink washing her hands with Simple Suds Hand Soap

What’s a fun fact about yourself that not many people know? 

I love cooking (I’m Italian and Portuguese) and feeding others is one of my love languages. I am currently exploring cooking more vegetarian and vegan meals as I read that limiting meat consumption is one of the most impactful ways to protect our planet!