CF Crush: Adria Vasil
This month, we’re crushing on Adria Vasil, author of the Ecoholic book series. Why are we crushing on Adria? Let us count the ways. For starters, she’s incredibly knowledgeable, experienced and passionate about the world of environmental sustainability. Next, she’s a talented and accomplished Canadian writer: she started her well respected Echolic column in NOW Magazine nearly 15 years ago, and Adria’s Ecoholic book series is a must have for eco-friendly enthusiasts. And finally she knows how to keep it positive, even when the state of the world is - shall we say - less than ideal. Read on to find out what inspires Adria, how she practices self care, and her eco-friendly recommendations. (Warning: you may experience intense feelings of affection at the end of this blog post.)
What lead you to start the Ecoholic column?
I started the Ecoholic column back in 2004 when there was next to no coverage of environmental issues in the mainstream press. I was a staff news writer at NOW Magazine at the time, covering all sorts of environmental and social justice issues, and my publisher and I started talking about doing an advice column that questioned the broader impacts of our everyday consumer choices. But environmental writing could be so painfully dry - I wanted the column to be edgier, more playful, free of bullshit and of course, packed with local content. That's how it all started! After nearly a decade we switched gears and dropped the Q&A format and the column became a mix of products guides and environmental news for a few years until I went back to my environmental news roots entirely.
Ecoholic has been around for over ten years and become a fixture in NOW. Sustainable living and eco-friendly products are definitely on the rise. Do you think green living is a trend or do you think it’s the way of the future?
When I first started shifting over to natural products as a teenager and later writing about them in Ecoholic, tracking down eco-friendly products was a major pain in the ass. There was one green store in all of Toronto (Grassroots) and otherwise you had to stick to health food stores for a not-so-impressive selection of natural shampoos and mascaras that flaked on your face like a soot storm. These days, you can find green products literally everywhere, the zero waste movement is blowing up, the plant-based movement is exploding, not because it's a trend but because it's the future. We can't keep churning out plastic-wrapped everything and devouring the planet's resources - even the major corporate players know that. Hence why more and more are trying to get in on the action. And considering the fact that humans need to get rapidly greener in a hurry for this planet to stay afloat, green is really the only legit option we have, so yeah, it's definitely not just a trend.
What eco friendly changes or developments are you most excited about right now?
I'm pumped about all the bans on single use plastic being announced around the world. There's a sea change on, particularly because more and more people are freaked out that the seas are full of plastic. Of course, tackling plastic straws and bags is just in the tip of the iceberg but seeing the European Union announce that they're banning single use plastics really gets my excited.
We’re bombarded with a lot of bad news these days - and at times it feels as if we’re going backwards, especially with regard to women’s rights and environmental regulations. How do you stay positive in the uncertainty of the current socio-political climate?
As a journalist and journalism prof, you really have to pay attention to the news everyday. You can't tune it out, as tempting as that is. I have to admit it's really tough watching politicians dismantling environmental regulations not just south of the border but now in Canada, too. And hearing the latest climate change news can really knock the wind out of you. But we can't lie down and bury our heads under blankets. If we lose hope we're screwed. I can't do that to my nieces and nephews. If I need to refuel, I go for a long walk and soak in some trees, hang in my garden or meditate and then I try to focus on all the good people doing amazing work around the world fighting for a better future. There's millions of them.
What are some of your favourite eco-friendly retailers?
Toronto has some awesome eco-friendly stores, particularly in the west end, shops like Ecoexistence, Ecotique, Chartreuse Style, Logan and Finley, and Karma Coop. In the east end near me, I hit up Big Carrot a lot and loved using Saponetti's soap refill station at the Toronto Tool Library on Danforth - too bad it's moving to Spadina! But I'm excited to check out the new Eco + Amour shop out in Scarborough. Of course, Toronto's home base to a lot of great online green retailers like Clementine Fields!
What’s your favourite indulgence, how do you treat yourself?
Maybe it's because I'm half-Greek and my dad was a restaurant owner and my grandfather was a grocer but a giant feast is definitely my favourite indulgence. Good food just makes me happy. Though I'd say my biggest guilty pleasure is definitely travel. When we do travel, we try to stay in low-impact, offgrid places that really take care of their corners of the earth.
We hear it all the time that transitioning to natural skincare is expensive. There’s no denying that transitioning to a greener lifestyle is going to cost you - whether that means financially, or in terms of convenience, or just giving up something you really love. We often recommend starting small and making a gradual transition. If there was one thing you could recommend to someone trying to change their lifestyle, what would it be?
Some natural skincare products can definitely cost you more than conventional brands because, let's be honest, they're not made with cheap synthetic ingredients in industrial quantities. But if I'm splurging on high quality natural sunscreen or facial oils then I'll save in other areas by making DIY scrubs and dry shampoo and moisturizing my body with basic coconut oil. The truth is the greenest thing you can do in all areas of your life is just to reduce, period. Stuff like buying fewer consumer products (but trying to buy green when you do), reducing your energy and water usage, cutting back on your food waste, driving less, eating less meat - they all involve being more mindful of all the little (and big) things we do everyday. That and vote for greener politicians.
What’s on your winter bucket list?
This winter, I really want to do more cross country skiing! That and make gnocchi from scratch.