Who is Sam Bentley? Tell us a little bit about yourself!I’m Sam! I co-founded UNILAD and built that into one of the biggest social media publishers in the world. Now I’m putting my energy into creating content around sustainable and regenerative living, conscious travel and environmental causes.
What is your philosophy when it comes to brand partnerships?
For me when assessing a brand to work with, I think it comes down to a few things. One, is creative freedom and how much I’m allowed to express myself as part of the campaign. Another is alignment and how much that brand and their messaging aligns with my vision for a better planet. Finally, would I actually invest my time and money in this brand and/or their product? So I usually ask myself three questions before looking deeper into a partnership:
- ‘Can I express myself as part of this campaign and create quality content?’
- ‘Does this brand align with my vision for a better planet?’
- ‘Would I invest or buy from this brand?’
Have you always been a conscious consumer or was there a moment when the switch flipped and you started to think more about the ways you buy and consume?
It was definitely gradual, the more and more you’re exposed to, the more you realise how your consuming habits have an effect on the people, animals and the environment on our beautiful planet. The documentary ‘Before The Flood’ made me assess my food consumption and its effect on the planet and from watching that I gave up beef and over a couple of years transitioned into a vegan lifestyle.
I was made aware of the terrors elephants go through as part of the Elephant riding tourism activity. I launched a content series called The Dark Truth Behind Tourism at UNILAD to expose the behind-the-scenes of many tourist activities around the world and help bring an end to these horrendous exploitations. More recently, I’ve begun to transition to a zero waste lifestyle to hopefully play a small part in preventing more plastics from destroying our environment and killing our wildlife.
Was it hard for you to step away from the established way of being a content creator and suggest a different way of doing things?
I think on social media, we often find ourselves associating the amount of engagements on a post with the quality of that post. So as a content creator I think that’s always a battle of teaching yourself that engagements don’t equal quality.
For example, you could put a photo up smiling on a beach and it could get 1,000 likes and then put up a photo carousel on ‘how to travel more consciously on your next beach holiday’ and include things like ‘take reef safe sunscreen’ and other tips, and that could get 250 likes. Most people could agree that one is far more informative and will do more good than the other, but the likes don’t show that. We’re not on this planet long so don’t let some numbers prevent you from expressing yourself and the legacy you want to leave behind.
How are you advocating for sustainability beyond your content creation work?I partner with a lot of organisations and individuals doing amazing things in this space and help amplify their work. I try to be an ambassador for sustainable living in my day to day life as much as I can and have conversations with others when I’m out. I have one pair of shorts that have been with me over 5 years now and my mum has helped me sew them back together so many times haha, they are so discoloured but they’re always a good conversation starter about how we can often fix things in our wardrobe rather than go and buy a fresh new item.
What has been the most fulfilling part of choosing an eco conscious lifestyle?I think when you look at how you can live more eco-consciously, it often leads back to making stuff or doing stuff yourself. For example, I love Kombucha but firstly, it’s so expensive! And secondly, I had so many jars piling up at home I figured why don’t I learn how to do it myself. I’ve now found a zero-waste method of making Kombucha at home that means I don’t need to leave the house and travel anywhere, I don’t bring more waste into this world and I can have fun creating my own flavours! Being more self-sufficient is always fulfilling.
Let’s have fun with this last question! Thinking of all of the places you’ve travelled… if you had to choose one place to live for the rest of your life, where would it be?
Maybe this is because I miss home a lot because I haven’t been able to travel back due to covid but honestly if someone could just dial the temperature switch up in the UK to make it warmer I’d say there! There’s so much beauty in the UK and the rest of Europe is on the doorstep too. Euro trip in an electric van would be the dream!