Looking for some inspiration to start a more conscious lifestyle, or perhaps inspiration on enhancing what you already do? We chatted to Hannah Theisen of Life+Style+Justice Blog and founder of The Ethical Bloggers Network to find out how it’s done. After pledging to go a whole year of living consciously and finding that it can work for the everyday, busy human on a budget, Hannah shares some tips for starting out and talks to us about some of her other cause-driven projects that keep her busy.
Tell our readers briefly what Life+Style+Justice is about?
Life+Style+Justice is a lifestyle blog that offers resources for stylish, sustainable living to conscious consumers.
What made you start Life+Style+Justice?
Long before I was involved with the fair trade/ ethical fashion/ conscious consumer movement, I was involved with anti-sex trafficking work. I did quite a bit of teaching and public speaking, as well as providing direct services to trafficked women. I was living a lifestyle of promoting justice through my words and my work but I became convinced that if I was running around saying that I was “against modern slavery,” I needed to be against it in all its forms… and that included labor trafficking. I knew that I needed to make some radical changes in my purchasing habits to ensure that I wasn’t contributing to companies and industries that didn’t value the same things I did. (Goodbye flip-flops from Old Navy! Goodbye cheap throw pillows! Goodbye Reese’s Pieces!)
In 2012 I embarked on a year-long journey where I pledged to ONLY purchase products that were ethically made. I wanted to see if it really was practical to make this lifestyle work for a “normal” person with a small budget and a busy schedule! Aside from a few inconveniences, I found that it was easier than I thought it would be! I completed my “experiment year” and just didn’t look back!
You started the Ethical Bloggers Network. I’m guessing primarily to connect ethical bloggers with brands, what has been the best thing about this so far?
Actually, I started the Ethical Blogger Network to connect influencers who write about ethical living with one another- working with awesome ethical brands is just a bonus! When I started the EBN, I thought that maybe we’d get about a dozen members because at the time I didn’t know of many other bloggers who were writing about sustainable living or ethical fashion. The best part of founding the network has been watching it grow to include so many people from all over the world! We have men and women, Bloggers, Vloggers, Instagrammers and freelance writers and we have members everywhere from South Africa to Germany!
What does being a “conscious consumer” mean to you?
Simply being aware of where your products come from and the impact they have on the world around you.
You also launched A Beautiful Refuge, can you tell us a little about what this is?
A Beautiful Refuge is an eco-friendly and fair trade (and aspiring zero-waste!) screen-printing shop in the Philippines. It’s actually the third such business I’ve helped to launch- I believe that creating sustainable work for people is the best way to fight all of the social injustices I hate the most- poverty, sex trafficking, lack of access to education, abandonment/orphanages, etc.
What would you recommend to someone who is starting this journey of mindfulness as a consumer and who may find it overwhelming or ‘just too hard’?
To just start by buying less. That’s really the first step toward conscious consumerism in my mind.
What are a few of your favorite clothing brands?
I really love Synergy Organic Clothing, People Tree, Zady, Matter Prints, and Tonle.
Where do you think the recent rise in consciousness around ethical living has come from?
I think that my generation is a “social justice generation”… Every few generations one pops up that will start a significant movement toward social change. I also believe that it’s a result of simply not being able to ignore what’s going on in the world as easily- we’re more globally connected than ever before!
What are the top 3 (or more if you have) things you look for when buying clothing?
Quality- it needs to have sturdy seams and be well constructed.
Style- is it something classic that I can wear until it’s worn out?
Natural materials- I’m trying to minimize the amounts of synthetics in my wardrobe so I prioritize cotton, linen, hemp, and wool.
Your favorite vintage find of all time?
I dug a beautiful black and white vintage sheath dress out of the “free” box at a yardsale 10 years ago and I still wear it all the time!
What are you working on at the moment?
Moving and downsizing! I’m getting ready to move overseas and with that has come a lot of “conscious donating” as I attempt to make sure that my castoff items don’t end up in the landfill. Work-wise, I’m working on some fun content for a few ethical brands (I run a digital marketing agency for cause-based businesses called Grow The Good Collaborative), and collaborating on some anti-trafficking campaigns with local non-profits.
Simone heads up digital marketing at Australian wellness company WelleCo, teaches yoga, eats way too much raw vegan chocolate and explores sustainable & ethical fashion through her editorial The Ethereal Edit. She lives beside the seaside in what is apparently the sunniest city in the world, Perth, Western Australia.