Jess With Less’s Jessica Carpenter is carrying the torch for sustainability as she leads a lifestyle with a minimal carbon footprint, from her closet to the kitchen.
When did you start to become cognizant of how much waste we create? Was there an a-ha! moment?
Back in 2016 my husband and I were working hard paying off our debt and got really into minimalism. It kind of happened naturally since we were trying to live on less, with less so we discovered ways to reduce waste and save money. I did a lot of research online and then found the zero waste movement and it got me inspired and excited to try new things and reduce my waste even more.
What are some key ways you practice minimizing waste?
Always bringing my own water bottle and coffee cup wherever I go. Buying only what I need when grocery shopping, a home composting system, and buying second hand.
For someone who wants to lessen their footprint on the environment, where should they start?
- Use what you have
- Shop secondhand
- Bring reusables
- Start slow so you don’t overwhelm yourself!
How do you know if a brand is really ethical and creates high-quality/durable pieces? Do you have a set of criteria that you follow?
I look for brands that really explain their practices and are transparent. I like to know where the items are made and if they are physically checking on their factories to make sure workers are treated fairly.
Knowing if a brand sells good quality pieces can actually be tricky and it’s one of the reasons I started a blog! I rely on reviews of products to know if something is worth investing in so that is something I focus on. I want my readers to feel good about investing in a higher priced ethical piece.
You often shop secondhand. Can you share your thoughts and/or tips for those who may feel intimidated by that process? How does this contribute to sustainability in the long run?
Shameless plug here but I wrote a fabulously helpful blog post “10 Tips on How to Thrift Like a Boss”.
Some people want to veer away from purchasing fast fashion in favor of high-quality pieces that lend themselves to longevity, but they are often pricey. Is there a workaround?
Work with what you have already, buy items slowly, and look for them secondhand online! I’m pro buying fast fashion secondhand but you can also find the higher priced sustainable pieces secondhand too on places like Depop and Ebay!
Preserve your favorite pieces—old and new—with gentle, plant-based fabric care like The Laundress Signature Detergent, Delicate Wash, and Stain Solution.
Favorite ethical/sustainable brands right now?
Everlane, Sézane, Reformation, Christy Dawn, Awl Snap, Eileen Fisher, Doen, and Harly Jae to name a few!
It looks like you keep a very well-edited closet! How would you recommend disposing of closet pieces we no longer need or want?
Sell them online using Depop or Ebay! If that doesn't work, gift to a friend or donate!
We often don’t realize that pretty much everything we use or consume on a daily basis involves waste of some kind. What are 3 “wasteful” things we may not realize we are consuming and how to stop?
- Bottled water! It takes 22 gallons of water to create one pound of plastic so carry a reusable!
- Food waste in landfills releases a large amount of methane since it is unable to break down. Composting your food is a huge way to reduce the amount of methane in the air.
- Learn what your county recycles and how to properly discard your recyclables. I walk a lot in my neighborhood and see so many items that are incorrectly placed in recycle bins and it will most likely cause the whole lot to be put in the trash since it takes so much time to sort! Take some time and head to your local government's website and see how and what is recyclable. Each state is different!
You’re such an excellent resource for your online community. Can you share any stories about how you’ve shifted someone’s lifestyle or thought process when it comes to sustainability?
I would say my proudest is my dad! He thinks most of what I do is silly but has made big steps in doing better. He brings his own cup and now says no to plastic bags. He will call me just to tell me how good he is doing! It’s pretty cute!