April 8, 2021
(Photo Credit: @theconsciouscam)
Happy Earth Month, clean beauties!
With mother earth and this magical world heavy on our minds this April, we’re talking all things #sustainablebeauty. And who better to have a GOOD talk with than Sabs Katz (@sustainablesabs), Co-Founder of Intersectional Environmentalist?!
Sabs is a low impact and intersectional environmentalism advocate based out of Brooklyn, NYC and she is a huge inspiration + resource for all things plant-based eating, slow living and sustainability. Dive into her interview below to hear her thoughts on ethical consumption, eco-anxiety, and eco-conscious self care!
SG: Could you tell us a bit about yourself + your journey towards clean living and ethical consumerism?
Sabs: I started my sustainability journey after learning about the zero waste movement back in 2016. A friend and I were about to move in together in our junior year of college, and she’d heard about zero waste living and plastic free living and it seemed impossible — but we challenged ourselves to try! And I ended up really liking and appreciating a lot of it. So we made our own shampoo + toothpaste and brought our own bulk bags to the store so we wouldn’t have to buy things in plastic. That time was really the start of my journey almost six years ago and it’s definitely been a long journey since then!
SG: How do you feel like zero waste living during the pandemic considering so many places aren’t able to accept reusables, many bulk bins are closed, etc.?
Sabs: A couple years ago I redirected my advocacy away from “zero waste” to being more low impact. This shift came because low impact living is more holistic and all encompassing of other aspects of sustainability that aren’t just focused on trash waste. I am fortunately able to still keep up with a lot of the zero waste or low waste habits that I’ve had and I still am able to get things in bulk from grocery stores nearby! I also don’t use a ton of beauty products outside of moisturizer, face wash and sunscreen so that’s pretty minimal for the most part. But I have found success in finding a lot of really cool brands online and through Instagram who do make products in glass or other recycled/recyclable containers so that’s been great.
(Photo credit: @mingdliu)
SG: We are so inspired by the work you’ve done in co-founding Intersectional Environmentalist. Could you tell us more about your work there?
Sabs: Yes! I am the head of communications and community development so my role is split between copywriting and the social media world, as well as making updates to the website and reviewing copy that goes out to ensure everything has the IE brand voice and all of that, as well as community events. Soon we will be announcing an Earth month summit that’s happening at the end of April, which we’re really excited about! So I’m currently in the throes of planning that, but a big part of my role is really about building community. That community is the reason why we’ve been able to garner the support and grow as large as we’ve been able to — because so many folks are really excited about what we’re doing and really want to be in the space with us when it comes to promoting a more intersectional view of environmentalism. For so long, it’s been a very whitewashed narrative and a very singular perspective of environmentalism, so it’s just been incredible seeing folks who want to get involved by learning more and doing amazing things like petitioning their schools to change their curriculums in view more intersectional environmentalism, etc.
SG: What is your biggest pet peeve with sustainability dialogues/ethical consumption?
Sabs: My biggest pet peeve is seeing very wealthy billionaires or huge corporations making it seem like they are the ones that are going to save us. Or they’re the ones placing blame on the individual consumer for all of the problems with the climate crisis, when in reality, there’s 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions. So by deflecting that blame, and also making it seem like they’re the ones who are going to save us (with their product, or with their book, or with their money), it does a disservice to all the folks who are on the ground doing grassroots organizing — the ones who are activists and really trying to make change happen every day of their lives. Those are the people who are actually making change happen! And then these wealthy folks think that just because they have a lot of money, they know everything that’s going on and the have the answers. It’s frustrating. Because a lot of people whose voices are really significantly important to this movement get erased, or they get silenced by these louder voices.
(Photo credit: @diandramarizet)
SG: When trying to run an ethical and sustainable business, how would you define success?
Sabs: I would say first and foremost that there is no perfect business model. From there, it’s important to work towards having more sustainable options and being transparent with your audience by making sure you’re not just focusing on the trash aspect of sustainability. But rather making sure you’re also focusing on the people that are being impacted by the climate crisis. For example, a lot of cleaning products nowadays are not required to disclose their ingredients — and they’re toxic. Then the chemical factories that produce those cleaning products are located in largely BIPOC or minority neighborhoods and they’re polluting their air and waters causing health defects and other issues in those areas. So it’s important to remember that yeah, trash and product waste is important…but humans are a part of the environment, too. Being transparent about sourcing and ingredients lists are just as important as physical trash.
That’s where a lot of the humanity within the environmental movement gets shut out. We are living within nature and we are a part of nature. So, thinking that we can pull ourselves out of any conversations around environmentalism is doing a disservice to our role on this planet. We have an opportunity to really harness a much more stewardship based relationship with the earth.
SG: What are 3 things you would tell someone who is currently transitioning to a more sustainable lifestyle?
Sabs: First: You cannot buy yourself into a sustainable lifestyle. Second: Reduce, reuse, and repurpose as much as you can before buying something new! And before buying something new, buy it secondhand if you can! Third: Know that there is no level of perfection. We sometimes feel like we’re existing in a vacuum and there’s no real power behind one persons voice or choices…but your voice could impact another voice, and that voice could impact another. So you really don’t need to be perfect. There is a whole trickle down opportunity where we can really create change by making changes in our own life. So every action counts!
(Photo credit: @annabellegolden)
SG: How do you fight burnout and “ecoanxiety” especially when existing + working in online spaces?
Sabs: Phew, It is a journey. First of all, establishing boundaries to make sure I’m not working past X number of hours a day has been so important. Also, getting enough sleep and making sure I’m doing other self care practices like working out, eating fruits and vegetables, staying hydrated, going for walks, etc., is crucial. But it can definitely get very overwhelming when we realize how big the climate crisis is and how small we kind of are in comparison to it.
At times it can feel like like we’re stunted by this big looming crisis. But it does no good to feel like we’re incapable of creating any change just because the problem is so big. So instead of using that stunting feeling as an excuse, I will take time to grieve whatever issues are going on or process whatever is happening in the world and then I keep trying to make change. Rather than using that anxiety as a reason to burn out your fire, use it as your motivation. When you see destruction happening, turn that pain and fear into sharing resources or use that energy to write a letter to your representative, etc. I feel like being more solutions oriented and having action items to accompany those feelings helps to flip the script and makes me feel like I am capable of making change and doing something to help.
SG: What are your thoughts on self-care and how do you think we can practice pampering and self care in an eco-conscious way?
Sabs: Being a minimalist, a lot of how I view self care is recognizing what are the basic things my body and mind need to function in order for me to feel my baseline of good. For me that includes drinking enough water, making sure I’m eating the rainbow, getting in a sweat session or a long walk a couple times of week, surrounding my self in nature, and most importantly just becoming intuitive with myself and my body. It’s more about recognizing the baseline of care that I need to function as my best.
On top of that, there are also things that I do during the week to give myself a bit more of that pampering feeling while still keeping things minimal. For example, twice a week I’ll do a face mask with my roomate (Sunday morning + Wednesday evening is face mask time!) and I love using the Cocokind ‘Matcha Moisturizer’. Every time I put it on it feels like butter on my face (but not in a gross way!) and I love turning that daily moment into a ritual — where I can put my phone away and just really sit and appreciate the little practices that keep me feeling good. I think that turning daily care into intentional practices will make that pampering feeling stretch even farther so you don’t feel like you need to continue buying tons of things that you might not necessarily need all in order to get that same feeling.
(Photo credit: @mingdliu)
SG: Who is someone that inspires you?
Sabs: Always, always Dominique Drakeford. Every time she posts anything I’m just like “I am so blessed to exist at the same time as you!” She is such a powerhouse and is genuinely so incredibly smart + knowledgable. She has such a unique perspective to bring to this movement and every time I see her come up on my feed I’m just like, “Yes!”.
SG: What’s your go-to morning beverage or something that makes you excited to start the day?
Sabs: It depends on the season! In the winter it’s just regular French press coffee with whatever non-dairy milk I have made. Lately, it’s been peanut butter milk because I’m too lazy to strain like the pulp of oat milk, haha.
During the summer, I make cold brew which is so easy to make! It’s basically making regular coffee but you use twice the amount of grounds and then you stick it in the fridge for 24 hours with regular room temp water. Then I add oat milk — and if I’m trying to feel fancy I’ll put a cute metal straw in it!
SG: BONUS Q, what’s your favorite houseplant you currently have?!
Sabs: Yes! This is my ZZ plant, which is just such a beauty. She’s growing a new little leaf kind of in the back. I got her last fall and she’s just been living her best life ever since!
It was an honor to feature Sabs for this month’s ‘GOOD Talks’ — she is such a source of knowledge + inspiration on the topics of conscious consumption and intersectional environmentalism! For more amazing advice on how to live more consciously and sustainably, give her a follow!
And for more convos on #sustainablebeauty, come join us over on the Shop Good IG, where we’ll be talking all month long about more sustainable swaps for your beauty cabinet!