Jane Smith - my eco-friendly life in Alsager
- Credit: Archant
Eco-friendly products and practices have been given the green light in the Smith household in Alsager. Jane Smith explains how her family have embraced change
Jane Smith has changed personal and professional direction to opt for a greener lifestyle embracing everything from fashion and food to family holidays.
Formerly one half of the Smith and Smith PR agency, she is still a director of the company founded with her husband Nathan which continues to flourish.
But her day job is now running a psychotherapy practice in Alsager, where she offers everything from couples’ counselling to a monthly drop-in for bereaved pet owners.
Jane’s life-changing moment came eight years ago when she went to the Cornerhouse cinema in Manchester to see Winged Migration, an award-winning documentary about how Canada Geese and other birds embark on flights of thousands of miles in their fight for survival.
‘It was a bit of an epiphany for me. Sometimes a visual image can crystallise something you feel instinctively and somehow it flicked a switch inside me.
‘I began to think about how you can’t live in isolation from everything else and how we are all connected. Then I read a book by the psychologist Carl Rogers and was blown away by what he was saying. I’d worked in marketing and PR for many years but decided it was time to do something different with my life.’
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Jane enrolled for a counselling course at City College Manchester and then embarked on a Masters degree at the University of Manchester while continuing to work for the Didsbury-based PR agency.
As part of her training, she also worked in an NHS clinic for people with eating disorders as well as in the voluntary sector.
Office premises are shared with a homeopath and reflexologist in the Cheshire village she moved to several years ago with Nathan and seven-year-old twins Ryan and Lewis, five-year-old Justin and rescue dog Buster.
‘We lived in a variety of places, including London and Israel before moving back to Manchester in 2000. But we wanted to be somewhere on the edge of the countryside where we could raise our family, go for walks and get a bit more involved in community life.’
Jane has a sliding scale of fees depending on people’s individual incomes and circumstances.
‘I see my mission as making therapy affordable and accessible and some of the workshops we run are actually free.’
When it comes to planning her wardrobe, Jane always aims to wear clothes ethically produced to Fairtrade principles.
She acknowledges eco-fashion still suffers from an image problem but thanks to celebrity campaigners like Livia Firth that’s slowly changing.
The wife of British film star Colin famously launched the Green Carpet Challenge in 2009, wearing an ethical Paul Smith two-piece to a recent premiere.
She has also designed her own range in partnership with Reclaim To Wear, which recycles vintage textiles.
Jane says: ‘Not everyone has Livia’s kind of budget or lifestyle but she has certainly helped get the message across there is a lot of good stuff out there. Fairtrade clothes cost more but you tend to buy fewer items and they last longer.
‘One of my favourite designers is People Tree. They do great tailored suits and dresses made from natural and recycled products.’
Jane buys shoes and boots from the Celtic Sheepskin Company, whose celebrity clients include Amanda Holden,
Evening wear is from Kiku, a boutique in Manchester’s Northern Quarter which specialises in one-off designs made from 1950’s patterns and vintage materials
As far as holidays go, they are UK-only and food is all locally-sourced.
“There’s a health food shop in the village and we get an organic veggie box every week. We’re never quite sure what is going to be in it so when the box arrives I sit and plan meals around it. I also buy from the local farm shop.
‘I love the discipline of it. I was not much of a cook before but now I think a lot more about nutrition and cooking this way we spend far less. In the long-term, it’s also part of our plan to grow our own fruit and vegetables.’
Walking holidays are spent in places like Snowdonia and at the weekends there are trips to the nearby Peak District in the family’s modest Fiat 500
‘I would love not to have a car at all but that’s pretty difficult. I think a lot about our oil supplies and the resources which are disappearing fast. I think we are all going to have to make some changes and we need to find a more sustainable way of living and take responsibility for what’s happening to the environment and our world.’
For more details about Jane’s work visit www.therapy-cheshire.co.uk