True self-love // an interview with Silke Dewulf

Meet the lovely Silke Dewulf, a London based yoga teacher and self-love coach, whose dreamy images and words of wisdom beyond her years enchant thousands of people all over the world. Silke also shares her plastic free journey on Instagram and Youtube, along with her minimalist inspired lifestyle. I don’t remember how, but I stumbled upon Silke's Youtube channel while living in London a year ago, and everything she wrote resonated with me immediately. I love how real she is and really admire her courage to share in such a venerable way. Below I have an inspiring chat to Silke about her plastic free journey, the benefits of decluttering and what it really means to love yourself. 

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Hi Silke, thanks so much for chatting to us today — we want to start by asking what sparked your journey towards this lifestyle of minimalism?

Hi Ella, thank you for having me on the blog today. My minimalism journey started back in 2015 when I moved houses. Going through my wardrobe and cabinets really made me realise how many things I was holding onto that I hadn’t used in years. So that’s when I first started decluttering and letting go of items that no longer added any value to my life. Since then I have moved houses three more times and each of them was a beautiful opportunity to re-assess what I no longer needed.

What do you feel have been the biggest benefits of incorporating a more minimalistic approach to living?

For myself it creates a sense of lightness and freedom. All the things I own right now are things I truly love and use. I also find that it helped me ease ‘decision anxiety’, that feeling you get because you have too many options to choose from. 

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You recently documented your plastic free July journey on Instagram. What was the biggest challenge for that month?

The biggest challenge for me was finding certain produce items packaged-free. I shop already about 80% plastic free but there are still those few items that no store around London seems to carry plastic free. Items like, cucumbers, berries, lettuce, kale, herbs, … During that month I decided to check a local small green grocer, and I got lucky! I was able to find cucumbers, kales and herbs package-free. Still no luck on the lettuce and berries but I dream of one day owning a plot of land out in nature and growing my own crops. 

It can be hard to stay motivated, especially when it's so much more convenient to buy plastic. What helped you stay motivated the entire month?

Oh I feel you! I have moments where I feel absolutely frustrated by the fact that it’s hard to be completely plastic-free. I have come to terms with the fact that for now I won’t be able to be 100% zero waste and plastic free. I definitely had to let go of my perfectionism and just try to make the best decisions I possibly can. What keeps me motivated is replaying the image of beaches full of plastic and cute little turtles getting stuck in plastic bags. Those things just pull on my heart strings. Knowing that me as a small individual can influence the amount of plastic that gets littered just by making smarter decisions keeps me going. I think a lot of people have forgotten how powerful individual decisions are. Sometimes we forget that our decisions can impact and inspire other people’s decisions and that’s when moment is built. But we have to start with ourselves, to be able to create that ripple effect.

Have you changed any other new habits since Plastic Free July? If so, what were they?

Yes, I started going to a green grocer down the road for some of the items I couldn’t find plastic free in the grocery store I usually go to. However, since then I moved cities and will have to start the hunt for good plastic free options all over again. 

What are have been your favourite plastic free finds so far?

I went to a bulk store called The Source Bulk Foods close to where I used to live in London and they sold unpackaged spirulina, wheatgrass powder and two different kinds of plant protein powders! How amazing is that? That store probably has the biggest range of bulk items I have ever seen.

And your best tips for reducing plastic and waste? 

I think its good to start with small steps. Implement those until that they are part of your routine and then build on that. For example if you always get a take-away coffee on your way to work, bring a re-usable coffee cup next time. Most places will even give you a discount for that. If most of your plastic consumption happens when buying groceries, see if you can find any of those items unpacked next time. A lot of grocery stores will have certain fruits and veggies unpackaged, like bananas, apples, peaches, mushrooms, bell peppers, courgettes, broccoli, … Go for those instead of the ones wrapped in plastic. Also consider making your own food and bringing it to work or school with you in a re-usable container instead of getting take-out or food delivery. Not only will you save plastic, you’ll probably also end up making healthier food choices. 

Real self-love is a deep and messy process. It doesn’t require you to spend any money or ‘treat yourself’, it only requires your unwavering attention to your inner world.

Lastly, self-love is a word that's thrown around a lot, but not all people understand how to really embody. As a yoga teacher and self-love coach, I wanted to as you; what is self-love to you, and how do you embody it in your day to day life?

To me self-love means to full embrace every aspect of oneself. I think a lot of people see it more as a surface-level practice of ‘taking me-time’ or getting massages. And while those are absolutely amazing, real self-love is a deep and messy process. It doesn’t require you to spend any money or ‘treat yourself’, it only requires your unwavering attention to your inner world. This translates into my daily life as taking moments to check in with myself to notice how I feel. If I feel upset or anxious I will take some time out of my schedule to simply sit with myself and listen as the emotions come up. It’s like having an intimate conversation with yourself. And the more I talk to the different aspects of myself and find out how they have been hurt in the past, the deeper the unconditional love for all parts of me grows. The funny thing is that the more love I cultivate for myself, the harder it becomes to not love others. You start seeing yourself reflected in so many people around you, and you realise how we’re all going through similar things. Once you have that compassion for yourself it simply over-flows to everyone around you. 

If any of you are interested in how to heal past wounds, I would highly recommend the ‘Completion Process’ by Teal Swan, Her methods have helped me a lot over the years to deepen the relationship to myself and ‘put myself back together’ so to say. And I also base my self-love coaching sessions on her work. She’s an absolute well of wisdom and insight.