We are totally crushing on Alden Wicker. A stylish New Yorker who takes sustainability seriously, Alden is the brains (and beauty) behind EcoCult, an online blog that promotes sustainable and eco-friendly living in NYC and beyond. We catch up to chat all things style and sustainability...
How would you describe your style philosophy?
Downtown-classic. I like to wear the sort of pieces that were cool back then, now, and in the future. So a classic motorcycle jacket, simple black flats, selvage denim, simple gold jewelry ... you get the point. And everything I buy has to have some element of sustainability or ethicality, whether it's made from organic cotton, made in America, made by fairly-paid artisans, secondhand, etc.
Why is sustainability so important to you?
The question is why it isn't important to everyone! It should be a basic, a normal thing. Our everyday actions should not hamper our ability to continue to live on this planet, or the ability of animals and plants to continue to thrive. I hate the idea that my money would go to a company that is pouring toxins into a river in China, or that my t-shirt was made with cotton that required extensive pesticide spraying.
How does this philosophy translate to other areas of your life?
Sustainability touches every area of my life. It's a constant background hum to my lifestyle. When I buy a snack, I want to know where it comes from and what will happen to the packaging when I'm done with it. When I travel, I want to do things that get me in touch with nature and also support the preservation of habitat. When I relax in my apartment, I want to know that I'm not breathing in toxins that are off-gassing from the walls. Just because I live in the city, doesn't mean I'm not utterly immersed in the thought of nature. I maybe can't see how my actions affect a rainforest, but I know they do in some way.
Did you have a particular aha! moment that you can recall that made you want to live "differently"?
There wasn't one moment. I just grew up steeped in this culture. My mom was by no means a hippie, but she's quite liberal. Plus, I grew up on 180 acres of forest, so I was always tramping around getting into trouble. I also attended a hippie summer camp in the mountains of North Carolina, where I met my first vegan, learned about overpackaging, and was introduced to all the ways we're messing up this planet. Then I went to a liberal private school in Maryland where political action was practically part of the curriculum. We were always protesting something. So this just makes sense to me. It's what I know!
Why is sharing the message of sustainability so important to you and how does your blog achieve this?
I think a lot of people know how important sustainability is, they just aren't really sure where to start. I'm trying to provide an accessible, fun resource for them to make changes in their life. I'm not speaking to the die hards, but the women who need a bit of convincing. I want to show that you can live your life beautifully, meaningfully, and joyfully while radiating positive sustainable waves outward. It's not about going anti-capitalist and moving to a shack in Appalachia. There's a balance we can achieve, without alienating our friends and family. I'm trying to hit that mark right in the middle. I'm also going to try to tell readers moving forward not only how they can make changes in their own life, but how they can become part of a movement to get legislation passed to protect the environment.
Do you see sustainable living as a sub-culture or is it something we all have a responsibility to aspire to and work towards?
It's still a subculture, sadly. It's something that takes education, awareness, time, and work. I want to see a world where the easy choice is sustainability. In order for that to happen, we need to support political action and enforcement of environmental legislation. All food should be organic. All products should be non-toxic. All garment workers should be paid a living wage. I want a world where this isn't a choice we make, or something we work for. It just exists in all things.
What are some of the most basic first steps people can take if they want to begin the journey of becoming more sustainable?
First, get educated. Read the news, sign up for newsletters from blogs and websites like The New York Times, Quartz, New Yorker, Grist, etc. Then, start pausing before you spend any money to ask yourself if what you're buying is serving you, and serving the broader good.
What's your latest favourite sustainable find?
And finally, even eco-style mavens must take a break sometime - what's your favourite holiday destination?
Well I just got back from Costa Rica, and absolutely loved it. It's a gorgeous country that takes protecting its ecosystems and wildlife very seriously, and provides so much food and entertainment to people like me who want to tread lightly and immerse ourselves in nature!
ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF ALDEN WICKER/ECOCULT