Today we’re going Bananas. No one knows Banana Science better than Shirley Billot, and she is dishing on the beauty of it along with her self-care rituals. You definitely want to dive into this read. Grab a cup and plump down in your fave chair.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you live? Where are you from? And what are 

you creating?

I grew up between East Africa and the Caribbean before moving to France. Now I split my time between Martinique (French West Indies) and Paris, which is energizing because each place inspires me to create in different ways.

What we are creating with Kadalys is a future where you can look and feel healthy while also helping the health of our beautiful planet. At a very young age, I learned from my parents the importance of respecting nature, being eco-conscious, and giving back to our community. Both my parents, especially my mother, are highly concerned and involved in associations aiming at protecting the environment.

I founded Kadalys because of a desire to make the world a better and more equal place. In 2009, Martinique was experiencing a terrible social and economic crisis due to the high cost of living and social inequities. I had two choices: either leave my island, as many did, or stay and fight for it. The purpose of the project behind Kadalys was to find a way to bring together all farmers — poor or wealthy, black or white — to reduce the interracial and intergenerational gaps that were contributing to the social and economic challenges.

It made sense to me to drive change by addressing the banana industry, which is the largest private employer in Martinique and plays a key role in the economy. Martinique is a small island where natural resources are limited and precious. The banana industry enables us to be less dependent on tourism and the exportation of rum and sugar cane. Without the banana industry, shipping containers would go back to France empty, which is wasteful and not eco-friendly. I saw this as a possibility for change.

In addition, bananas represent an opportunity to be more sustainable given the number of “ugly” bananas that are discarded every year (ugly bananas are bananas that retailers reject because they are misshapen or not part of a bunch). A recent study showed that bananas are the most wasted fruit because of brown marks. More than a million bananas are thrown away every day in the world, and food waste is a top contributor to climate change.

Lastly, I’ve always believed capitalism should be more inclusive and that it should reward the ones who create the realvalue. That’s why I decided to incorporate 100% of our banana growers as shareholders of Kadalys (they represent 600 families gathered in a cooperative).

Share with us some of the self-care rituals you practice:

I believe in the mind-body-spirit connection, so I make an effort to care for myself holistically. When I don’t take care of myself, I feel out of balance. It’s easy to get caught up in work so here are some of the ways I help maintain my balance and take care of myself.

Daily

Every day, when I wake up, I put on some music and dance to start my day with energy and gratitude. Then I treat myselfto some cheese for breakfast before I complete my morning routine, which includes Kadalys, of course. I like to use the Musalift Organic Lifting Day Cream to hydrate and nourish my skin for the day because it’s loaded with antioxidants andother skin-loving nutrients. It’s perfect for more mature skin like mine.

Over the course of my day, I make sure I go outside to enjoy sunshine and nature for at least twenty minutes every day. There’s a reason why people always say, “You need vitamin D. ” It really does make you happier. I am lucky because whether I am in Paris or Martinique, I don’t have to travel far to find something beautiful and inspiring.

I also find some time for exercise every day. My favorite form of exercise is just walking around the neighborhood or some more dancing. For me, it’s really about moving and keeping my body and my spirit energized. It feels good to move and to be away from the computer and the phone. It’s so important to take those digital breaks throughout the day. I find I can keep creativity flowing when I am not constantly connected online.

Weekly

My weekly self care routines are really about being connected, but in this case I mean connecting with nature and with my friends.

Every weekend, I take a really long walk in nature (sometimes as long as 4 hours!). This helps me feel re-aligned with the natural beauty around me and gives my mind an opportunity to unwind from work. Also, being outside just makes me feel better about everything that’s going on in the world, and it helps remind me why I’m fighting hard every day to reduce food waste and to help nature thrive.

At least once a week, I meet friends for dinner so we can catch up and stay connected in person (and not just on social media). There’s something comforting about being able to catch up in person and it connects you on a deeper level than texting does! Evenings out with friends always include some laughs, good conversations, and great memories. It’s alsogreat for connecting with others and seeing things from a different perspective.

Monthly

My monthly self care rituals are centered around trying or learning something new. Whether it means going on an adventure with my friends or trying a new restaurant, there’s nothing better than feeling like you’re growing as a person.

I make sure to read at least one book a month (and I strive for more). I read to learn and grow as a person, but it also boosts my mood to explore new worlds and ideas. I especially love non-fiction books because they always teach mesomething I didn’t know before.

At least once a month, I also try to schedule day trips with friends or family. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life gives me space to think about what’s important to me and time to appreciate all that I have. Getting some distance from my day-to-day world is a great way to remind myself how lucky I am.

I also try to take on an extra volunteer project or mentoring event at least once every quarter. It feels good to give back to others and again, helps broaden my perspective. Giving back and helping others also keeps me motivated and inspired. For me, being an activist is a way of life, and time spent volunteering is an important part of feeling centered on whatmatters.

Annually

My annual rituals are focused on giving myself a break and taking time to recharge. Several times a year, I travel to Martinique. While many of these visits are work-related (meeting with planters, etc), I always schedule a few days off aswell so I can relax in the sunshine and take in the beautiful scenery.

Every August, I book an annual trip with my family. It doesn’t have to be a big trip – in fact, the smaller and more intimatethe vacation, the better! Last year we rented a house on the island of Corsica. We enjoyed the change in scenery, the food, and the beautiful beaches. Taking everyone out of their element is great because it’s so easy to get caught up in your daily routine that you don’t even notice all the great memories you’re missing out on. A new environment helpsawaken your senses and create new memories.

Overall, these are the little routines that make me feel better all throughout the day, week, month, and year. They might go unnoticed as “self care” by others – but they are important to me, and I believe that’s what self care is about: making yourself feel good no matter how small the act. By taking time and space for yourself, you can stay energized and inspired for the future.

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