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By Chere Di Boscio
Fashion bloggers are undoubtedly a creative force, styling themselves in ways that inspire us to dress better. But quite often, they also encourage mindless consumerism by promoting clothes that reflect passing trends, but soon end up as landfill.
So we were delighted to discover a fashion blogger who nixes trends and favours sustainability. Meet Jennifer Wang, a blogger and a Parsons design student who is truly passionate about sustainable fashion. On her site, Sustainable Siren, she models outfits she styles from clothing that she considers to be eco-friendly; these could be made from organic, recycled, secondhand, vintage, ethically made, fair trade or handmade materials, or could be convertible or made using zero-waste designs.
Never one to slavishly follow the latest trends, Jennifer knows what looks good on her and reflects her style, and wears it with flare. Not only is her blog a lesson in what constitutes sustainable fashion, it’s also great inspo for how to put that kind of fashion together into a traffic-stopping look.
Here, in this exclusive interview, she gives us a bit of insight to her life, her looks and her love for the planet.
Tell us what led you to transform your style blog into the ‘Sustainable Siren’?
I first started my personal style blog (which was originally known as Art In Our Blood) when I was 15 at the beginning of my junior year of high school. For the first few years of blogging, it was my creative outlet for experimenting with fashion. After starting college at Parsons, I started to learn about the environmental degradation and ethical manufacturing problems behind the fashion industry and it was something that always stuck with me in the back of my mind. The final turning point came for me after watching the documentary “Racing Extinction.” I realized that we can’t wait around for other people to step up and solve these problems–I have the power too, so why not me? Hence, Sustainable Siren was born as my commitment to only blog about sustainable and ethical fashion from there on forward and hopefully inspire others to start approaching fashion with a conscious mindset too.
Why is sustainability important to you?
Truly good design IS sustainable design. Design shouldn’t just be about aesthetics and function during a product’s life span but also the product’s impact on the environment when we manufacture it and also what happens to the product after we are done using it? Not to mention, it’s simply not right that one species could destroy the environment for the millions of other species that coexist with us.
Of course nothing illegal, but I definitely believe in the power of peaceful protest and campaigning.
Which people making a difference do you most admire and why?
Boyan Slat, the inventor and founder behind The Ocean Cleanup who started brainstorming towards his brilliant idea when he was first 16 and then founded his organization at 18! He’s the perfect example that even young people can step up and make an incredible impact!
What do you do yourself on a daily basis to help make the planet a bit greener?
1) Avoiding meat as much as possible, especially when eating out.
2) When shopping in person for clothing, only buying secondhand from thrift stores or from brick-and-mortar stores that are USA-made such as American Apparel.
3) When buying books for school, I always buy used ones.
4) I carry a reusable tote bag with me so I can refuse plastic and paper bags at the store.
5) I also bring my reusable water bottle everywhere!
What is your greatest ‘eco sin’?
Too many flights. This was especially bad when I lived in NY and practically every break I would get from school I would fly from NY to CA and back because I would get so homesick. This would happen multiple times during the year. Luckily now that I’ve transferred to a school back home in the SF Bay Area, I won’t be flying back and forth anymore!
Some fashionistas like the Man Repeller say that sustainable fashion isn’t always ‘fashion forward’. What is your view on this?
Completely wrong. Even with brands that aren’t sustainable, you can still get clothes from them and keep it eco friendly by buying these items secondhand! Secondhand is a lot better for the environment than brand new sustainable clothing because we aren’t increasing the demand for more resources to make more clothes. We are working from what we already have in existence.
Despite wider knowledge of sustainable fashion, most purchases are from unethical mainstream retailers. How do you think we can overcome this?
As mentioned above, secondhand is the solution for this when you love the designs from a certain store/brand but they aren’t exactly sustainable. Crossroads, Vinted, and Poshmark are all great places to buy currently trending fashion, secondhand and at amazing prices too!
As far as overcoming this, I believe that consumer demand is incredibly powerful and that we vote with our dollar. When companies with sustainable and ethical practices start getting more business, this will pressure other unsustainable/unethical companies to change their business model if not just for moral reasons, but also in order to stay in the competition.
I admit it does take more work to find the sustainable option for a particular item as the sustainable fashion industry is still in its early growing stages, but it’s important we give them our support if we want this to become the standard!
What do you see as being the top priorities right now for a more sustainable planet?
Reducing meat consumption. The livestock industry accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than the transportation sector! If you can’t completely cut meat out of your diet, at least reduce the amount you consume.
Transitioning into a widespread adoption of clean energy such as wind and solar.
I also want to see more laws from being put into effect to protect the environment and preserve biodiversity.
How do you hope your blog will make a positive difference?
I really hope to convince people (especially other young adults) to start approaching life with a conscious mindset and show them that it’s not as hard as they might think! I want people to realize that they really can make a difference by making changes here and there in their lifestyle habits–everything adds up in the end but also in setting a good example for others, you’ll also be inspiring the people around you to likewise start acting more consciously!
Tell us a bit about your daily beauty routine.
First, cleanser and then I mix my moisturizer and sunscreen 50/50. Then, lip balm (I love ones that come in compostable tubes–Fable Naturals has some wonderful organic ones!). Concealer. Bronzer (I use the all-natural mineral one by Alima Pure). Brow Gel (Jane Iredale’s mineral brow gel is amazing). Eyeshadow primer, then brown eyeshadow in varying shades. Brown eyeliner (Hynt Beauty has a really good organic one that goes on so smoothly!). Curl lashes. Mascara (Kjaer Weis has this very cool refillable and organic mascara for those of you into reusable beauty products!)
What do you normally eat in a typical day?
I generally find myself consuming a lot of eggs, rice, avocados, bananas, tea, cheese, broccoli, and potatoes. I also have a weakness for golden kiwis.
Any last thoughts?
With sustainable fashion, it’s never about giving up fashion–it’s simply about adopting a conscious approach to it!
And it’s always important to remember that we aren’t the only species that exists on this planet. There’s millions of other species who coexist with us and have just as much a right to live and thrive on this Earth!
Follow Jennifer on Instagram.