An Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Consultant who doesn’t believe in zero waste?
<cue the delicious exhale of guilt for ordering takeout last week>
There is such a grounded, practical magic to Julia Santucci, Eco-friendly Lifestyle Consultant and the Founder of Go Emerald Green. She truly meets people where they are in her work, and helps to create personal, manageable, and sustainable solutions for humans who want to bring more green practices into their lives, but may not know where to start.
What we’ll start off by saying is… you’re not alone sister. Not alone in wanting to be and create change, but also not alone in being overwhelmed by all of the options and harmful effects and the sustainability rhetoric out there.
Julia is breaking down not only her story and spark (hint: she started YOUNG) in this interview, but also some of the really lifestyle-friendly ways you can start incorporating eco-friendly practices into your kitchen, your bathroom, and your closet this week.
Read on for all the (green) juicy details…
Tell me about your journey to becoming an Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Consultant, sustainability advocate, and all-around friend of the Earth. What brought you to this work?
This is a surprisingly tough question, as this has always been innately in me somehow.
One day way back around 13 years old, I tossed on my rollerblades and skated around picking up trash in my New Jersey neighborhood. The question in my mind was, “It’s so easy to help out, to really do something… so why aren’t we?”
Fast forward to living in New York City in my 20s. I was on a jog one day, passing all of this trash on the ground as I always did. That familiar feeling came back to me… “Why am I not doing something about this?” There was a fire in me that was officially lit.
Glennon Doyle explains it so perfectly in Untamed – we each have our own fire, and our job is to follow what lights us up, what makes us feel alive, and what is crying out for our attention inside of us. So I listened.
Now as an Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Consultant, I work with amazing humans all over the world to help them upgrade their home, their office, or their day to day habits with sustainability in mind. I have a private 6-week container for individuals who want me to get in the weeds with them and personally explore their eco-friendly options, I consult with businesses and co-working spaces to uplevel their eco-friendly practices, and I speak to audiences virtually and IRL about sustainability too. It’s truly a dream.
What does being eco-friendly in day to day life mean to you, and why is it important to you to help others on this path?
The major ethos is around reducing waste when and where you can. Whether that means bringing a to-go mug for your morning coffee, sitting in a restaurant eating off of real plates vs getting take-out and having so much plastic waste, or bringing a reusable bag with you (I know you have at least one at home) when you shop and saying ‘NO’ to a plastic one.
I do this work not only for myself, but I help others to integrate less wasteful practices into their lives because none of us can change or help the planet alone. We are stronger together and actually do need more people on board in order to see a real impact.
I’ve spent so many years doing the research and have accumulated a treasure trove of knowledge about best practices and ways that you can make a real difference in your daily life. And I so often see people who want to do better, but don’t know where to even begin. The overwhelm is so real. I’m here to hold the door open for them in my work and help them to become more eco-friendly in their individual lifestyle so it feels manageable and sustainable.
Beginning to be eco-friendly can feel Daunting with a capital D. What are a few small ways that folks can start to become more eco-friendly this week while out in the world?
First of all, you are not alone, I hear this from almost everyone. It is SO much easier than you may think it is to start. I wish I could scream that from the rooftops!
When you are grocery shopping, do you need a thin green bag for each produce item? Nope you don’t 🙂 Bring reusable bags for all of your produce – you can buy reusable mesh produce bags and bring them with you next time. A free option is keeping those thin green plastic bags and bringing them back with you to reuse when shopping for produce.
Start to notice where you can reuse something or say no to plastic utensils. I bring my own metal silverware with me in a little pouch and just wash it when I get home. There are so many little things that I can help you to identify and integrate. Is your dental floss refillable? Let’s swap you out there.
It’s also being a compassionate citizen, taking note of the trash around you, on your street when walking, picking a couple pieces up and disposing of them. And no, you don’t need to bring them home – there are trash and recycling bins all around the streets.
Let’s talk being eco-friendly at home. How can we reduce waste and bring in more sustainable practices and products to our homes?
First off, see where you are buying from and what chemicals are in your soaps. Can you say the ingredients that are in your soaps? If you can’t say it or don’t know it, that’s something to look at phasing out. Having “fragrance” on the label too – those tend to be highly toxic.
Next, take a look at the types of bottles your items come in. Are they shiny plastic? Most likely. Grove Collaborative does reusable bottle options for soap and home cleaning supplies and more. Such a simple swap.
I highly recommend doing an audit of your shower. Do you NEED 10 plastic bottles? 4 shampoos? Probably not. Being EcoChic is also partly about being a minimalist. Clean it up! Make that shower colorful, gorgeous, easy to look at and eco-friendly. My lovely colored bar soaps look so spa-like on their bamboo holders. Only buy what you need. I have 1 shampoo bar and 1 Prose Shampoo bottle to alternate between. Use everything you have until it’s done, or donate before buying more. That’s the eco-conscious way of living.
I love that you work to educate that being eco-friendly can also be stylish AF. How are you discovering brands that work hard to give back, and do you have any favorites to share with us?
Thank you, and this part is FUN! At this point so many brands are sent my way, but in the beginning I started by going through the brands I loved, looked at their websites and diligently checking to see what their practices were. Ethically sourced materials? Supporting smaller communities? Treating their employees well? I quickly learned that if a designer or brand is going the extra mile to be ethical/EcoChic then they are VERY transparent about it. They WANT to share their story and hard work with you. If you go to a brand’s website and it is hard to find these answers around sustainability that you seek, it’s a good chance that that is your answer. They aren’t going the extra mile. Steer clear.
The Good On You app is another incredible resource for sustainability ratings for brands, and is my go-to. I must gently remind you here to remember that no one is perfect. Not a brand nor a person. In my book, if they are trying, then that is fabulous.
Here are a few of my fave brands (but read on for the caveat):
What I also have to note is, I haven’t bought clothes in a very long time. We have so much in our closets already, the best question to pause on is “Do I need more?” And if I would like to treat myself to something new, I check out vintage stores first.
Another idea, which at the moment some LA friends and I are chatting about, is throwing a stylish clothing swap party! Bring what you’re not wearing any longer, and it can find a second life with a loved one.
Any words of advice you can share for those moments when we look around us and feel like we’re not doing enough? ❤
Breathe in, breathe out, and smile. You are not alone, my friend. If you are TRYING, you are doing your part.
I don’t believe in zero waste – it is borderline unattainable, especially for people not living in big cities. Reduce waste where you can and collectively that will create a big impact. Educate and inspire others with what you have learned in hopes that they jump on board. Grab some friends and come to one of my workshops where we can all chat eco-friendly style, the questions we are afraid to ask, and leave feeling better connected to each other and to the world around us.
For more sustainable product recs, check out my sustainable swaps post for all of the items I brought into my new home this year!