Eco-Warrior Reza Cristián of SUSTAIN
The planet is hurting—and we need to act now if we want to change course. But where do you start? Reza Cristián has set out to prove that you don’t have to choose between being an eco-warrior and a badass style icon. She’s the founder of SUSTAIN, a disruptive online publication that gives sustainability the platform it deserves. In honor of Earth Day, I spoke with Reza about the story behind SUSTAIN and her tips for practicing sustainability during the COVID-19 crisis.
Meera Aiyer: Tell us about the vision and inspiration behind SUSTAIN.
Reza Christián: Growing up, I always wanted to work for a fashion magazine, which led me to study journalism in college. I started off with a blog that was all about fashion and lifestyle and delved into the world of online media publication. That’s when I realized that there wasn't an online publication strictly for sustainability that was inclusive, fun, bold and original. I saw sites like Refinery 29 and Man Repeller grow and gain popularity and I saw a chance for me to create a sustainable site that would relate to millennials and Gen Z.
"I realized that there wasn't an online publication strictly for sustainability that was inclusive, fun, bold and original."
SUSTAIN's mission is to normalize sustainability and empower our readers to practice sustainability through food, fashion, wellness and culture. I want our readers to go out and make their own lifestyle changes and continue to fight for a better future and planet.
MA: Why are you so passionate about sustainability? Why is it such a pressing topic?
RC: For me it’s always been about the planet and caring for others and everything on our precious mother Earth. But, my mentality about the urgent need for sustainability is dramatically different now than when I was at a young age. Our planet is dying—and we need to do something now so that future generations can live safely.
"Our planet is dying—and we need to do something now so that future generations can live safely."
MA: What challenges have you faced working in the sustainability space?
RC: I think the biggest challenge is wondering if what I’m doing individually or through SUSTAIN is actually making a tangible difference. But then when I get messages from people who have told me how inspiring SUSTAIN is or how it’s helped them change their lifestyle to be more eco-conscious, it all feels worth it.
MA: Any tips on how to practice sustainability during quarantine?
RC: Yes!! Here are some easy steps that someone can practice. If you happen to be online shopping or buying take-out/delivery, you can opt-out for any extra single-use plastics. You can also use this time to start your own home garden such as tomatoes, chilis, etc. It’s a great way to save money and also get your hands dirty. Lastly, with us being home a lot lately, we’re using up a lot of electricity. So practice disconnecting at least once for an hour weekly; then try daily.
MA: Who are three people that inspire you in your field?
RC: Right now, I’m looking up to amazing climate activists like Jamie Margolin, Isaias Hernandez of environmentalist blog Queer Brown Vegan and the sister founders of Celsious, an eco-friendly laundromat based in Williamsburg, New York. I know that’s technically four people, but they’ve all inspired me to keep pushing boundaries in the sustainability space! I’m especially inspired by Celsious lately and their response to the COVID-19 crisis. They’ve started taking low-contact laundry drop-offs and are offering priority services to those most vulnerable to the virus—all while getting your laundry done in ultra energy-efficient washers and dryers.