Elizabeth Stilwell is the creator of The Note Passer, a sustainable living blog that intertwines activism and education with understandable guides and well-designed graphics. She is a Florida native now living in New York City via China, New Orleans, and Arkansas. A proud sustainability nerd, her aim is to be a comprehensive resource for ethical alternatives that benefit both people and the environment.
Tell us about your blog The Note Passer
My aim is to be a comprehensive resource for ethical alternatives that benefit both people and the environment. In educating consumers, I cover everything from fashion to beauty to finance. The Note Passer is inspiration for better, sustainable future; one that’s full of more meaning and less waste. I am also associated with Ethical Writers Co and elizabethstilwell.com
Can you give us a sneak peek into what you’re working on for 2016?
This year, I’m cultivating my newsletter and working on relationships with my readers. Expect special notes and extra content and illustrations just for subscribers.
Because of the way our globalized markets work, it can be very frustrating and time-consuming to investigate every item you hope to purchase. It’s in my interest to be a resource and expert for people who don’t have the time for investigation, but want to make better purchases. The impact for my readers is a spotlight on more intentional products that take better treatment of people and the planet seriously. A by-product of this is better conditions in the supply chains, less pollution, less consumption, and more mindfulness about our impact on the system. Some industries seem to be taking note and making incremental changes.
What made you go down this path?
I was still trying to figure out my life after I left teaching when the collapse of Rana Plaza happened. I was so shocked by the photos and stories coming out of the destruction that I felt compelled to investigate my culpability in this horrific event. I wondered if I’d bought clothes sewn that factory — or one of the hundreds, maybe thousands like it. It seemed like a failing of the human race that people should die making clothes destined to be bought cheaply and disposed of without a genuine thought to where they had come from. I thought about all of the hands that have touched my garments during production and I had to stop and pay homage to that process. I vowed then to only shop ethical fashion (secondhand first) and this scrutiny has creeped into most other parts of my life.
Main source of inspiration?
The camaraderie of the Ethical Writers Coalition is a buoy in difficult times and a delight in good ones. It can be isolating to work alone, particularly in this niche industry, but I can always turn to other members for collaboration, inspiration, support and high-fives. We genuinely believe that we are stronger together.
What actions do you take in your daily life to lead a more sustainable lifestyle?
I decided to move to a vegan diet this past summer. Eating less meat (especially red) and cheese is one of the best things you can do to lower your carbon footprint.
What are some of your favourite brands in the sustainability community?
Who do you think are the top influencers in the sustainability community?
I’m glad for this question because I’d love to pay homage to those who have been working for years, decades even, on the issues surrounding sustainability.
The Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator is educating a new generation of designers about sustainable fashion and production
Kate Black of Magnifeco.com has been writing about sustainable living for many years and just published a book, Magnifico: your head-to-toe guide to ethical fashion and non-toxic beauty.
Sass Brown is a researcher, writer, blogger and educator who has long been in the business of ethical fashion and sustainable design.
Elizabeth Cline is a sustainable fashion expert who wrote Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion
Director Andrew Morgan’s documentary, The True Cost, has exposed the problems within the fashion industry in a way that is difficult to ignore. Many viewers have been changed by its message.
Naomi Klein’s book and documentary of the same name, This Changes Everything, has made visual the high cost of capitalism and the resulting effects of climate change.
Images courtesy of The Note Passer