“The Fairyland Cottage story is a story of simplicity, beauty and positivity and in Rose Mason’s interview Niamh Traynor tells us about her own journey as a YouTube Creator, her values and the detail of production. Following Niamh’s interview Rose gives insight on growing our power of sustainability.” —Susan
Sustainability and living simply: What can we learn from Niamh of Fairyland Cottage?
“For me sustainability is living simply with nature rather than against it.”—Niamh Traynor
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the pace of life for everyone. The closure of shops and entertainment venues and the need to stay at home has gifted us more time to spend on the small things, like cooking, exercise, speaking to family online, connecting with our communities and offering help to others. For many, it’s been a time when we’ve been forced to reflect on past and present; our relationships, jobs, our security and our goals, and how we wish to change our approach as we look to the future. As the pleasures and privileges of life gradually return, it’s time to challenge ourselves to implement the slower, more simplistic appreciation for life that we struggled with at times, but all managed to grow, into our busy and energetic existence. Niamh’s story offers an idea of how we can carry slowness, calmness and a mindful pace of living into the rushing and often hectic world we call home.
Niamh Traynor is an Irish content creator on YouTube, via the channel ‘Fairyland Cottage’. She makes videos documenting her daily life and routines in her beautiful rural home, plus tips on living more mindfully and sustainably. ‘Sustainability’ on her channel is a far reaching term. She talks about the little routines she has to care for the planet and live in harmony with it. She also discusses self-care and wellbeing, which is another form of sustainability; sustaining energy, creativity and gratitude throughout the day.
Niamh’s videos have an undeniable sense of tranquillity. The visuals are filled with nature and green and her calm Irish accent is reassuring and wonderful to listen to. The Fairyland Cottage videos are valuable for education, teaching you how to make natural skincare and cleaning products, how zero waste living saves money, or how to care for plants and vegan recipes made with seasonal ingredients. They’re also lovely to listen to while tidying or cooking at home. Niamh gives simple yet helpful advice which anyone could implement in their lives, making sustainability and reducing waste accessible to anyone. One little tip on reducing waste which I loved was featured in her morning routine video, to store extra boiled water in a flask so that you don’t need to boil the kettle again. Advice like this can save both electricity and time, yet it’s something many of us wouldn’t even think to do.
We caught up with Niamh and asked her a little about her own awareness of sustainability, and the process behind creating Fairyland Cottage.
Rose: Have you always been involved with mindfulness and sustainability or are they things you adopted later in life?
Niamh: I actually adopted them later in life. I travelled a lot in my twenties and I was fascinated by the culture in certain places. I worked closely with some Native American people who shared their simple way of living and I was blown away with their connection to nature. This was the starting point for me. From there I travelled to India and absorbed the spiritual side of life, again learning from some local village people how to live simply off the land.
After all my travels I found myself getting interested in making my own natural products from natural ingredients. My formal training was in nursing and I was always drawn to health promotion. My interest for sustainability came via the route of health. I wanted to live as simply as possible with as little as possible. I had a desire to live with the nature around me and utilise what I could for living simply. It’s been a learning process since.
Rose: How did the channel Fairyland Cottage begin?
Niamh: I had just completed a home care job and my husband suggested I share online my healthy baking recipes. He had an old camera and basic mic. I set it up, pressed record and the rest is history.
Rose: Tell us about the Fairyland Cottage journey over the last few years
Niamh: It’s been a surprising journey. I never intended to gain many followers. My aim was one hundred people. For the first year nobody watched except my devoted family. One day I was watching some zero waste Youtubers and I noticed that I lived the life they lived, I just didn’t have a name for it. I shared a video with my zero waste personal care products and for the first time a few people watched and commented. From there it has been slow and steady for the last 3 years.
Rose: Tell us about the process of making video content for Fairyland Cottage.
Niamh: I upload a video once a week every Sunday. I get some inspiration for a video, decide what I want to film and then start. For example one day my boss in work was talking about how he loved the rain and that someone told him he was a pluviophile. This sparked an idea in my head about a video of living simply on a rainy day. Sometimes I just get an idea and then formulate a list of shots around that idea. It isn’t always successful. Some videos I film can’t be used, for example I made a wood dye out of steel wool and vinegar and cut out coasters but when I dyed them, they all turned black. The wood reacted to the steel wool. Most I learn on the job through trial and error.
For the past year my husband has been filming and editing so the standard has improved. I am not tech savvy and at the beginning I edited on movie maker which I got free with my computer. Filming can take anything from one to three days with another two or three days for editing, voice over and music selection. We both like to work slow hence why the videos are short and we only upload once a week.
Rose: What does sustainability mean to you?
For me sustainability is living simply with nature rather than against it
Niamh: For me sustainability is living simply with nature rather than against it, meaning not forcing something because you want it. For example if I’m looking for a certain product it may be cheaper to buy in plastic but when you are living sustainably you think what impact that decision will have on the earth long term. It is an attitude of being conscious of what way you live life and how that impacts nature. Someone once said to me ‘what’s good for nature is good for humans’ and I always go by that motto. Being sustainable is intrinsic with living simply so actually people who are frugal naturally live more sustainably. In other words, it’s about going back to basics. Living a full life with very little.
Sustainability is about going back to basics. Living a full life with very little.
Rose: Where do you recommend people start if they want to build a more sustainable life?
Niamh: Start by assessing everything you have in your house. You have to know where you are starting from. From there you can see the main areas that need improving and gradually start to implement changes where you can.
Rose: If you could choose one, which simple lifestyle change would you say everyone could adopt to make their life a little more simple and calm?
Niamh: A simple lifestyle change that could make life more simple and calm would have to be connecting more with nature. Everything starts from this place. When you sit in a garden or forest or on a beach and really watch you get to see just how intrinsic everything around us is. An extra bonus would be to go barefoot. I recently watched the documentary The Earthing Movie and it was an eye opener to how much we have lost touch with nature and ultimately ourselves. This reconnection is something that no money or technology can buy.
Niamh gave us an intelligent insight into the importance of connecting with nature and living simply. Her sustainability principles are accessible and can be implemented in anyone’s life, no matter where you live or what your budget is. Spending time in green spaces is a fantastic way to connect with nature. So is appreciating people, conversation and the fantastic things you can get from this. Decluttering your cupboards, noticing if you love what you own and whether it brings value to your life. Learning about the ways we use the resources of the earth and considering how we treat the planet in return. Niamh’s YouTube videos show that directing energy and thought towards thinking about planet and our place within it is also part of a journey towards a happier and less stressful life, and that living simply is not about sacrifice, but instead experiencing benefits to our wellbeing.
It is crazy to think of our busy schedules and how disconnected this can make us feel from nature. Yet we all have the opportunity to be able to think creatively about improving our daily lives and cultivating our own harmony with the planet. The coronavirus pandemic and worldwide lockdown pushed us to grapple with this sense of slowness and appreciation of the small things. It may have caused frustration and resentment at times, but it is something we grew through nonetheless, and we can all be proud of that. Living sustainably with calmness and simplicity is possible, with the help of videos like Niamh’s, it is something we can all achieve.
Niamh Traynor is an Irish content creator on YouTube, via the channel ‘Fairyland Cottage’ with 15 million views to date. She makes videos documenting her daily life and routines in her beautiful rural home, plus tips on living more mindfully and sustainably. Niamh lives and works in County Wicklow [click here for FairylandCottage website] in Ireland, a nurse by training she is widely travelled and has experienced life in cultures such as India and North America, informing her worldview. Connect with Fairyland Cottage on Instagram [click here].
Rose Mason is a writer on a whole host of topics, from sustainability, to politics, to chatting about her daydreams. She studied BA Culture and Media Studies in Leeds and now lives in London and is committed to spreading a positive message though her work: “At its core, sustainability is the ethos of maintaining and sharing what we currently enjoy.“