From Zero to, Sustainable is Attainable

I started writing this article when I began my “zero-waste” journey in May 2020. I was under the impression that this entire movement was mostly about personal health, household green swaps, and organic foods. Fast forward to September 2020, I have retired the term “zero-waste” and learned that sustainability is more than a movement in your kitchen but it’s an empowered state of mind forcing you to search for transparency from anyone trying to sell you something.

Sustainability is a topic that has greatly impacted me as a consumer and now as a business owner of Nose Best Candles. In order to learn more I set up an interview with #FITalumni and #J.Crew brand creative Juliana Mazza to learn more about her sustainability journey! I am truly thankful for her wisdom on this topic which definitely led me to reassess my green vocabulary and give myself some grace in not being zero-waste “perfect”. Follow her @indiejem on the gram.

B: Hot Topic… why do you prefer to use the term sustainability vs zero waste? Zero-waste is THE buzz word I’ve found so many people using to describe their lifestyles on IG and Youtube.

JM: Zero waste started as a term and initiative for major corporations. However, it somehow got handed off to the consumer as an identity. The trash we produce as consumers is important to take into consideration and reduce but major corporations produce SO much more and therefore, it’s very important we keep them accountable.

I was ALL about using “zero waste” on my Instagram before learning more.. I got caught up in the fad when the truth is there is no way that someone can go completely zero waste. That approach often discourages people. I chose to switch to the term sustainability because I feel it is more inclusive.

B: When did you become conscious of sustainability?

JM: I started my sustainability journey 1.5 years ago. However, my eco-friendly mindset really started in high school. I attended a Certified Green school in Maryland. They had a recycling program, raised chickens and goats on school property, collected our rainwater in barrels, and grew Chesapeake Bay water grass. I participated in all of these programs.

For as long as I can remember I never liked throwing things away- I would think about how I could reuse it down the line. Sustainability on the individual level comes down to “eco minimalism” which simply means you should be using what you have and not buying new things.

B: What does “eco- minimalism”/sustainability look like in your daily life?

JM: I always carry around my reusables. On an average day I will carry my foldable tote bags for impromptu shopping trips, a water bottle, metal silverware for takeout, and my hot or cold coffee cup!

In an effort to reduce waste I usually bring my own lunch to work in a reusable container and I shop at package-free and refill stores for food & supplies.

B: As a consumer, how does sustainability affect your buying behavior?

JM: I put a lot more thought into my purchases. I question where a product comes from, what material it’s made out of, and how it got to me or the store I’m buying it from. Also, I think about how I will eventually dispose of a product once it serves its purpose. My goal is to reduce my waste as much as I possibly can but also to inspire & teach (NOT REPRIMAND) others the importance of their day-to-day decisions.

B: Did you face any challenges when developing a sustainable lifestyle?

JM: My biggest challenge has been meal planning. I need to know what I want to purchase for the upcoming week since I usually shop at my local farmer’s market that only happens once a week in order to purchase ingredients that are fresh, organic, and sustainably grown.

I also need to plan my trips to the zero waste market properly. This means taking along all of the refillable jars needed when I plan on going after work.

B: As one of my most fashionable friends- What are your thoughts on sustainability in fashion and what do you recommend when it comes to avoiding “fast” fashion?

I think that the fashion industry has a long way to go when it comes to making sustainable clothing affordable to all. There are definitely brands that “green wash” so you have to do your research before purchasing.

Fashion is my weak spot and I do the best I can. 85% of my closet is thrifted/second hand. I started thrifting years ago when I was still in high school as a way to save money but now I do so with the intention that it’s good for the earth. I recommend Depop, Poshmark, Marcari, & Thred Up to find specific fashion forward pieces. I definitely do have my moments where I order something new & on trend from a not-so-sustainable brand but I’ll still investigate the brand and their business practices before buying.

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