After announcing National Friendship Month and my collaboration with the beautiful Jennifer, of Eco Warrior Princess. I decided to interview her just to prove to you all how awesome she truly is!
Jennifer has been in the Ethical Fashion game now for about 7 years. When I first came across her blog I was inspired by her passion and knowledge on being green. She has tons of insider tips and tricks on living a greener lifestyle. You can say buying less, being happy, and growing your own food is Jennifer’s forte.
1. Tell me about yourself / your background / what kind of work you do / hobbies / yoga
I am the creator of ethical fashion and sustainable lifestyle blog, Eco Warrior Princess and currently establishing a permaculture farm and organic food business called Raw Saucery with my business partners (my fiancé and his father). I am a freelance writer, Sun Salutation practitioner and an avid reader of science fiction and classic literature. One thing most people don’t know when they first meet me is that I am extremely ‘political’. I follow both politics and fashion equally.
2. How do you define ethical fashion? Sustainable fashion? Do you think there's a difference?
For me 'Ethical Fashion' and 'Sustainable Fashion' are words that we use to describe more 'conscious' fashion but it conveys different things to different people. Sometimes they are interchangeable. 'Ethical' fashion often refers to how it benefits workers, animals and communities. 'Sustainable ' fashion is often linked to how it benefits the environment through natural organic fabrics use, recycling of materials and biodegradability of materials. Where it sometimes gets tricky is that 'ethical' and 'sustainable' often depends on an individual's personal views and reference points. A vegan may go 'cruelty free' but then purchase items that are synthetic and made of petroleum based fabrics which is not very sustainable as it is usually not biodegradable. Bamboo is fast growing and isn't a water thirsty plant but to convert it into fabric is resource intensive. So as you can see 'ethical fashion' and 'sustainable fashion' is not black and white.
The Ethical Fashion Forum has a great definition of Ethical Fashion in that they point out that it is fashion that "maximises the benefits to people and community whilst minimising impact to the environment". I describe it as socially responsible and environmentally friendly fashion as it attempts to address a myriad of social and environmental issues including:
- organic standards such as materials and processes that is free of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides and GM ingredients
- fair equitable 'ethical' labour practices such as fair pay, overtime, benefits, safe working conditions, no sweatshops;
- incorporates recycling initiatives in its processes (or in its fashion!! ie Zero Waste fashion)
- community development so that it reinvests or assists local communities
- Local sourcing of goods to reduce eco footprint
- Energy efficiency (this is an important one for me as I believe that our reliance on fossil fuels is a MASSIVE issue which is why I live off the grid)
- Education of care of clothing ie no dry-cleaning etc. to reduce eco footprint
3. How did you get in to ethical fashion?
It officially started in 2008 when I completed a fashion business course and made my way to China with my then business partner in the hopes of starting our own label. The insight into how garments are made and where they end up (wholesale markets) was a massive eye opener. People talk about it but I got to see it first hand (taking photos at the factories was a big no no as she had translated to me!). Needless to say, my business partner and I went out separate ways and then a year or so later, my partners brother passed away and we were thrust from our city life and moved to a rural country town with a population of just 300. We lived in a tent for 4 months and then a shed for over 2 years and we lived off the grid. I began my blog Eco Warrior Princess as a way of capturing the journey from my old life ('Princess' meaning city living with all of its mod cons and luxuries) and my new "Eco Warrior" life where I bathed in the creek, had a very limited wardrobe space (given I lived in a tent and then a shed), grew my own organic veggies, lived on solar power and our own rain water and basically lived very simply and VERY green. The older and wiser I get the more I need to align what I do for a living with every other part of my life so my partner and I (and his father) agreed to go into business, we purchased a farm, are establishing it using permaculture principles and we are growing our own organic food in the hopes of creating a range of raw food products.
4. What are your favourite ethical fashion brands? Eco beauty brands? Etc.
Brands - Kowtow Clothing (NZ), Organic by John Patrick (USA), Eva Cassis (Australia)
For all things vintage - Dear Gladys Vintage Boutique & Shag Vintage for all
Organic by John Patrick
Beauty - Sukin Australian Natural Skincare, Inika & Burt’s Bees
5. If you were throwing a dinner party and had to invite 5 people, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Another tough one, here’s who I decided on:
Audrey Hepburn - my style icon + role model, I would ask her about her life including experiences of war (she was a child in the midst of a world war), what she thinks of today's fast fashion industry and her work as UNICEF ambassador
David Suzuki - the ultimate environmentalist and an inspiration - I'm sure we could talk for hours on many subjects including sustainability
Oprah Winfrey – a woman I’ve admired for many years, I’d ask her to share any advice on living authentically and entrepreneurial advice
Charles Dickens – one of my favourite novelists, I’d love to discuss his life as a writer, where he got his inspiration from and if he had any writing advice for me
Mahatma Gandhi – I’d love to learn where he found the courage to lead his country through nonviolent civil disobedience in the face imprisonment and adversity and hear about his experiences
6. What inspires you?
People and nature are my two biggest sources of inspiration.
7. Do you live an eco-friendly lifestyle? What are some of the ways that you incorporate sustainability in your life? (Ie do you ride a bike to work? Compost? Buy only organic? Etc.)
I try and live as eco-friendly as possible:
- I live off the grid: our home is run on solar power and all our household water is rain water collected in water tanks or bore water pumped up from the ground for the gardens
- I have several organic veggie gardens and if I have to purchase food, I always strive to buy organic, chemical free and from local farmers
- I am vegetarian for personal reasons (total of 7 years now) and know that the production of meat is extremely unsustainable on both the land and on non-renewable resources and many are treated inhumanely, especially those from factory farms
- I shop from need rather than want. If I do need something, I buy vintage, second hand and thrift first and if I can't find second hand, I will buy ethical and well made from a brand with a reputation for making items built to last
- I work from home which reduces my environmental impact as I don't need to burn fossil fuels driving my car
- I rarely wear makeup or nail polish (unnecessary exposure to toxins) and only do so for events and occasions (and photo shoots!)
- I eat raw salads and green smoothies almost daily as it uses less time and energy - and is often more healthy and nutritious
- I use reusable shopping bags
8. If you only had one wish, what would it be and why?
Tough question – it would have to be for human civilisation to evolve to the point where we aren't exploiting each other and other living beings and where love, peace and collaboration is the currency in which we trade - not fear, greed and competition.
9. What is your advice for people looking to move away from 'fast fashion' into 'ethical fashion'?
Connect with other like-minded individuals as it can be an overwhelming journey and some of your family and friends may not understand why you’re choosing to do so. Read blogs, join online communities, educate yourself and don’t feel bad if you make a mistake – it’s a process that takes time. We are raised to believe that fast fashion is normal okay but then when you start learning more and more you realise that the $5 t-shirt is representative of so much that is wrong in this world.
10. If you could choose one actress to play you in a film about your life, who would the actress be and why?
I would choose Jessica Alba because of her eco values and advocacy on living a greener lifestyle. I think she would play my role perfectly and rather convincingly.
Anything else you'd like to share?
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