Our European Brand Manager Henry Hoogenveen interviewed Protect Our Winters Austria President Dani Hochmuth to learn about her low-impact lifestyle, and what drives her to be an athlete and activist. See the first part of this three part interview here.
Can you tell us more about your life as an athlete and activist?
For me, snowboarding is not about my ego and being “better” than anyone else. It’s about riding with people and not riding against them, it’s not about riding against the mountain it’s about riding with it.
It’s about community: my sponsors, family and friends! Without my sponsors, who make my life much easier with their amazing support and products, I wouldn’t be nearly as successful as an athlete. Without my family, I would not be able to walk so confidently in the direction of my dreams of a life with a minimal impact on our planet. When I need a little financial aid to help bridge the gaps, they are there. And without my friends especially Jule, Tove and Carmen I wouldn’t get out of my cozy home as often or cope as easily when I have a problem.
Honestly, sometimes I struggle because my path is unique and relatively unchartered territory. Sometimes I cannot make a decision about what is right or wrong. There are weeks and days (like today) where I just want to be out in the mountains, but I am stuck inside in front of my laptop answering my emails and giving talks.
I am a solution seeker. I’m not willing to accept societal and environmental problems and not take action – I want to change everything now. I had a really big crash a while back and in that moment I finally realized how precious life is and that I should stand 100% behind my beliefs.
What or who has been your biggest inspiration in your life as an activist?
The person who’s inspired me most in my life as an activist is my sister, Michi. She spent 6 months in Brazil working with homeless kids after getting her degree, while I was travelling around the world for fun.
Michi took me on my first dumpster diving tour, she introduced me to food sharing and to our capital city of Vienna. She helped teach me how important it is not to throw away plastic or clothes. She’s been bringing her own water bottle and other reusable products with her everywhere for a long time now.
My second source of inspiration is the high alpine environment. The glaciers are a place where you are responsible for every step you take. If you make a wrong decision you can die immediately. Up there I realized how small we are as a human species and that at the end of the day, nature is in control.
During my good friend Sam’s first glacier tour at the Gross Venediger this summer, he commented on the glacial melt saying, “it’s like watching a big animal dying” and he nailed it. That comment struck me at my core and I couldn’t return to the hut for a couple hours because it shook me so much. Instead, I spent that time meditating on a big rock before returning.
Why do you incorporate Klean products into your life as an athlete and activist?
This question is way easier than talking about myself!
Because Klean found a super smart solution for one of our biggest problems, plastic pollution! Klean’s products also makes it much easier for me to live my life more conscientiously. I got my first Klean Kanteen about two years ago. I use it every day and I am sure I will continue to use the same bottle for as long as I can.
Klean Kanteen was also POW Austria’s first partner. Without the Klean family there would not be a POW Austria. It is so great to see that there are brands that take responsibility for the environment. If every company would donate to 1% For The Planet, the world would be a much better place.Check back in the coming weeks to catch the final portion of this three part story.