I love acknowledging Eco Heros, what it means to be eco inspirational and reflecting on the eco journeys of others. And of course, from time to time I turn my reflection inwards and ask where where I get my eco inspiration from.

Indeed I’ve shared my Eco Force on this blog before, but never once have I mentioned who, or what, inspired me to live more sustainably in the first place.

Who ignited my eco spark?

Now while many in our eco challenge community cite their parents or grandparents as their main source of eco inspiration, it wasn’t the case for me. True I have a super thrifty mum (and nan), but I also have a not-so-eco dad (the term eco vandal comes to mind). I did learn much about frugal living from my mum, but these tricks were driven by just that, the need to save money, not a greater desire to protect our earth, and yes, there is a difference.

I have thought long and hard about this for a few days and then it hit me.

I do remember who triggered it! 
(and I say trigger because I truly believe I was born with a green heart, it just needed someone to jump start it)….

Her name is Annemieke Mein.

You may have never heard of her but for a few short years in my tweens, she was my idol.

Annemieke is a textile artist who resides in my home town of Sale, Victoria. Her art is truly amazing and inspiring in itself. You can see samples of her work here.

OK I hear you say. Big deal. She’s an artist. A truly talented one. What does this have to do with being an Eco Hero??

Well, she is also a naturalist. A truly passionate one.

I remember when I first met Annemieke and her passion washed over me.

I was a Brownie Guide and had completed the syllabus for my collectors badge. It was time to take my stamp collection to the assessor’s house to discover if I had passed or failed.

Annemieke was my assessor.

Off I went in my Brownie uniform, possibly 10 years old to a dream world. Annemieke was not only one of the kindest adults I had ever met, she was the most interesting and magical.

Instead of the normal array of china nic nacs you would find in someone’s home, she had bowls of natural things. Things like unique shells and sponges she had collected from the beach. And every collectible had a story. I sat in awe watching and listening to her share the tale behind each one. Indeed I felt like Alice in Wonderland.

I was awe struck.

I think I asked her more questions about her natural collection than she did my humble stamp collection.

I was also mesmerized by the amazing textile art hanging in her home – her natural masterpieces. I walked out of her home an hour or so longer than I was supposed to stay inspired and I couldn’t wait to return.

And return I did.

Annemieke was also an assessor for several other Brownie badges such as naturalist (obviously) and cook, so I made sure I completed all of those just so I could return to her magical home once again.

This went on for a few years as Annemieke was also an assessor for Guide badges. So guess which badge I completed as soon as I was a Girl Guide? Yup, the naturalist badge. One because by then my Eco Force was well and truly burning but two, just so I could see my idol once again.

I haven’t seen Annemieke for around 25 years now but I am still inspired by her every day.


Her “Sea Gar” print takes pride of place in my living room, overlooking our kitchen table. It was an engagement present from my parents and is just perfect. I see it every day so am often taken back to the magic of Annemieke and those precious, inspiring hours I spent as a child in her home.

So to Annemieke, if you are reading. Thank you.

Thank you for igniting my Eco Force and for introducing the magical natural world to me. I am saddened to read that you are no longer able to create your textile masterpieces but hope you are still able to enjoy time in nature regularly.

Who or what triggered your eco journey? Who is your ultimate Eco Hero?I’d love for you to share below.