Fashionista, CEO, Blogger, Mother, and Garden Guru: Meet Rachel Sarnoff

rachel Rachel Sarnoff (far left in photo) is the founder and CEO of EcoStiletto.com, a guide to hip, green living.  Sarnoff has written for numerous online and print publications including treehugger.com and Self magazine.

Being a blogger has the potential to be an inherently eco-friendly occupation.  What do you see as the green perks to being a blogger?

First of all, I control my entire environment. That means I work in a building where we compost, recycle, reduce water usage, use non-toxic cleaning products, provide organic food, use CFLs instead of regular lightbulbs and turn off the lights when we leave a room. How many office buildings can you say that about? But the main thing for me is that I drive very little. I walk my kids to school, walk home, and walk to work. I live in an urban neighborhood, so I can walk to do most of my errands. This is such a bonus because I have extreme car guilt: I have a (relatively small) SUV that gets about 19 miles to the gallon. I can't afford to change cars right now so my only option is to drive it as little as I can!

We've all heard dozens of times about using CFLs instead of regular lightbulbs and turning down our thermostat in the winter.  In your opinion, what are some of the most commonly overlooked green living hints and tips that the general public can benefit from?

Walking! Did I say that already? I'm always surprised how little people walk when they have the chance. When you factor in parking and traffic, if you're going a short distance it factors out to be the same amount of time. And you get exercise, to boot!

As the founder and CEO of EcoStiletto, you obviously have a wealth of information on green living.  How do you incorporate this knowledge into your everyday routines and lifestyle choices?

I wouldn't say I have a wealth of information, but I am in the blessed position to be able to work every day at learning more about issues and ideas that I care about tremendously. In creating EcoStiletto and working on other green-related projects I've learned so much and incorporated a lot of what I do into my work and home life.

For example, I was so anti-compost until I realized how easy it is to do it in a very low-key way: I just keep a bowl next to my sink and throw my veggie scraps in it, and when I take out the trash every few days, I dump the bowl into the composter. At the bottom I get this rich, gorgeous dirt that feeds everything it lands on. I was also a very conservative recycler until I realized how broad the acceptance program is in my area. We can even recycle styrofoam! Once I ramped up with this stuff, I could really see the difference: Each week when I take out the bins my trash is about a third full, and the recycling bin is overflowing--while the worms go to work on my compost.

Your website covers a number of topics, including parenting, fashion, and beauty, with an eco-friendly slant.  When you are choosing products to feature, events to attend, or celebrities to highlight, what are some of the qualities and characteristics that you use to determine if they are the right fit for EcoStiletto's readers?

I'm a mother of three, in my 30s, on a relatively tight budget, so I am my own demographic. But seriously, I've been a writer and editor for about 15 years. I get a little flutter in my stomach when I read a good pitch or think of a great idea for a story. My litmus test is that whatever goes on the site has to stand alone as a great product, regardless of the green factor. It obviously has to have an eco-angle, but that can't be the only angle. I'm never going to feature a big, boring sack dress just because it's made of eco-friendly hemp--nor would I wear it. Anything we write about on EcoStiletto is just as chic and gorgeous as non-eco items--they just happen to be good for the planet, too.

EcoStiletto features a variety of luxury items (albeit those designed and made with a conscience and a commitment to eco-friendly standards).  What do you say to eco-ascetics who think such items are unnecessary or frivolous?

In covering these types of items, I'm not saying someone has to go out and buy them. It's more about understanding the environmental implications of what goes into their manufacturing, as opposed to something that's conventionally made. I can't afford the couture silk remnant stilettos that we're featuring (and giving away) in April. They're $600!

But I certainly think it's important for us to understand what goes into the manufacture of cheap leather or PVC shoes, and how it affects the Earth. For a long time, we've been living with the idea that cheaper is better. And yes, saving money is important. But for me, and I think for many of my readers, we're coming to the conclusion that buying less and buying quality is a better option than just buying a lot and buying it cheap.

Do you have any eco-resolutions for the next year?

On a personal level, my resolution is to garden more. It gives me great satisfaction to rake the leaves and get my fingers in the dirt, but I tend to get busy and put it off. We grew about a quarter of our vegetables in the garden last year--this year I want to grow half!

Related Reading:
How You Can Start an Urban Farm
A Vision of Eco Couture

 

2 comments

If you see any unhelpful comments, please let us know immediately.

rachel (anonymous)

Thank you so much for this interview! I'm honored to be included--your blog is great! I hope you signed up for the shoe giveaway at www.ecostiletto.com. Two winners. $500 worth of eco-friendly shoes. What girl doesn't love that? ;-) Rachel

Written in February 2009

Charles M. 110°

Rachel, keep the SUV if you are frugal in the way you're using it and don't intend to suddenly start driving a lot more.

Sure, you could change that 19mpg to 40mpg, or whatever, but the embodied energy costs in a new car are very high and you're unlikely to reap a return.

Written in February 2009

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  • Posted on Feb. 11, 2009. Listed in:

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