Marci Zaroff is an internationally-recognized ECOlifestyle expert, educator, innovator and serial ecopreneur. Beyond being the founder/CEO of leading sustainable fashion manufacturer MetaWear and the ecofashion lifestyle brands Under The Canopy and Farm to Home, Zaroff recently wrote the book “ECOrenaissance: Co-Creating A Stylish, Sexy & Sustainable World” (Simon & Schuster). Interestingly, “ECOrenaissance” includes a foreword by Horst Rechelbacher — the CEO and founder of AVEDA — who Zaroff has viewed as a mentor.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Zaroff – who was featured in the book “ECO AMAZONS: 20 Women Who Are Transforming the World” and is a Henry Crown Fellow of The Aspen Institute. After chatting with her, you are likely to come away feeling inspired and then wondering if you yourself are doing everything needed to make the world a better place.
The full conversation can be heard on the January 15 edition of the “Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz,” as embedded below.
Jewish Journal: So how long did you spend writing “ECOrenaissance?”
Marci Zaroff: So this was about a 10-year work in progress. The idea came to me about a decade ago, and I was really excited at this idea of creating a movement that connected the dots of all of the different lifestyle sectors… My business journey went from food to beauty to fashion, and each step of the way I recognized that all of these worlds are interconnected.
So approximately 10 years ago I started writing the book I created the concept of “ECOrenaissance” as a movement inspired by the original renaissance that, you know, we were coming out of in the dark ages, in this case, the modern-day dark ages… inspired by this rebirth of humanity. The original renaissance was driven through creativity and collaboration and a new-found consciousness and connection and those same elements I believe are what’s driving this shift in popular culture today on creativity consciousness connection community and collaboration. And those are the pillars of “the ecorenaissance.”
JJ: If we go back 35 years ago, that’s before “grunge” of course, to use that as a pop culture landmark right there. So 35 years ago I’m sure that people thought you were insane for caring about this whole “green” idea… When did you notice as a whole that companies started becoming the norm to do this kind of thing?
MZ: Yeah, the journey of a 1,000 miles begins with one step… When I started, to your point, people thought I was insane. I was talking about things like organic food and yoga and meditation and eco-fashion, and everybody thought I was like their “crazy friend” or “the hippy-dippy girl”… “OK Marci, sure that’s a viable business”… A lot of cynics, in fact with eco-fashion, most people that I share the concept with were naysayers.
So fast forward to today, 83 percent of Americans are eating organic food, so we’ve clearly come a long way there. Thousands of brands and retailers across the world are joining the eco-fashion movement now. So I would say that the last maybe decade, things have been shifting with the focus on food, but today and only in the last maybe couple of years there is that interconnectivity and that awakening around the lifestyle… I would say we’re really right now at a tipping point where we’re living in a modern day “Star Wars,” you know the dark and the light forces…
I would say it’s pretty split. I would say we’ve crossed into the mainstream. We still have a lot of work to do in terms of sparking that light for everybody. But we’re on our way, and I wrote the book to be a user-friendly tool guide really with tons of tips and resources and brands and anecdotes to inspire and meet people where they are anywhere on that spectrum of change and transformation.
JJ: So for somebody that right now is totally consuming and doing things kind of the wrong way from the point of the book, what’s a good first step that a person can take to get in the right direction?
MZ: I just first say the book is meant to be very user-friendly, very inclusive and very nonjudgmental. So I take the approach that you can’t get from Point A to Point C overnight. It’s one step at a time as long as you’re stepping in the right direction. And if that means you know you got to embrace an entire plant-based diet, but maybe just try on Meatless Mondays or you don’t have to change your whole wardrobe, but maybe the next time you buy a cotton T-shirt or jeans, see if you can find one in organic cotton…
The Internet has changed the game… The Internet is the single greatest catalyst for this movement because people have access to information now that they never had before. And that’s why the millennial generation is absolutely embracing this lifestyle and this way of thinking because they’ve grown up with the Internet and they can pull the curtain back and unveil that human and environmental impacts of the products and companies they’re supporting, and they can ask questions like “What’s in my food? What’s in my beauty products? Who made my clothes? How is it being made? Where is it being made?” They can ask questions and they can get answers.
JJ: So I’m curious where this entrepreneurial drive came from…
MZ: So I got business cards and started promoting the fact that I’d love to do calligraphy when I was very young and I started circulating business cards to everyone I knew. So if they needed calligraphy done for an invitation for a wedding or bar mitzvah or an event I would do calligraphy. And so I actually started getting clients and people were people who were blown away by what I was creating and I loved that service. I love to serve others, to serve others is serving yourself, and that sort of was probably my first business that I started. But I always was looking at ways that I could take my ideas and bring them to life. That’s something I’m kind of wired to do. I’m a doer…
One thing I learned from Horst, the founder of AVEDA, that always stuck with me… You always want to appeal to people at a visceral level and then you know kind of unfold what’s behind it… All of these ideas always resonated for me that you have to drive with design. And so we’re in a world right now where it’s all about redesign, which is what the eco-renaissance is about.
Marci Zaroff can be found online at www.marcizaroff.com, and on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @MarciZaroff.