What Sustainability Means to Industry Experts

After a long day at work, I often want to rush home to throw on some sweatpants and lounge around, but this week I was counting down the days and hours to attend an event co-hosted by Bloomingdale’s and The No. 29 Communications to hear industry experts share advice for practicing sustainability and mindfulness.

Panelists included Zahra Ahmed, VP of Marketing and E-commerce at DL1961, Emma Loewe, Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen, Kwesi Blair, Sustainable Brand Strategist, Angel Veza, Food Waste Expert, and Gay Browne, Author of Living with a Green Heart. Between these five panelists and co-founder of The No. 29, Melody Serafino, a few key themes arose.

Sustainability is a personal journey.

Everyone will embark on a different journey toward sustainability, and we all have different paths to get there. It can start with that aha moment at specific points in our lives, ranging from beach clean-ups and witnessing the volume of food waste while working in the restaurant industry, to waking up to the realization of one’s unintentional complicity working in the fashion industry after the Rana Plaza tragedy.

Sustainability is practicing the ‘leave no trace’ rule.

We enter the world with nothing, and we should also leave it with nothing as well. When we visit beautiful places of nature such as national parks, there is an unspoken rule to leave nothing behind, as if no humans set foot in that space. The same should apply through our entire lives.

We need to be more conscious of the waste we produce and think about how we can reduce it wherever possible. Our current practices of factory farming, deforestation, disturbing nature for crude oil, waste management, among other things, need to drastically change.

Sustainability is about making better choices.

What defines “better”? Better implies that there will be comparison, and there should be when talking about sustainability! We should be comparing brands to see if they have sustainability standards, and if so, how specific do they get? How are our clothes made, for example, and how are the materials sourced? Can we substitute single-use plastic items for something that does not have to be thrown away? Can we educate ourselves on different parts of a vegetable to reduce the amount of food scraps we toss in the compost?

Sustainability is about thriving with the world around you.

Having a community of individuals who are passionate about sustainability really struck a chord with me. I wasn’t just inspired by the experts sitting across from me, but I was grateful to my peers in the audience who came out to learn how to thrive on our planet through different facets of our lives. It’s great to see companies like Bloomingdale’s support sustainability efforts by providing the space and platform for this information to be shared – I’m looking forward to more companies following their lead!

From left to right: Zahra, Kwesi, Melody, Angel, Emma, Gay