We took some time to get to know Anja Stang - championing the way for all things sustainable and ethical, inspiring those around her to do the same. Anja shares some of her tips to living a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as some of the brands you can start supporting today.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Anja Stang and I’m the founder of the digital magazine GreenHouse.eco. I have a long background in the fashion and magazine industry but launched my "house" in 2016 with rooms as categories. I hope to inspire my readers to live more sustainably, by showing them that greener options don’t have to be ascetic, expensive, or aesthetically limited. I’m also a freelance writer, communications consultant, and public speaker, all about sustainability. I’m also the mother of two boys and live at Nesodden, a peninsula just across from Oslo.
What does a day in your life look like?
Normally, I have two kinds of days: Withdrawn ones where I work from home, planning and producing creative content for my platforms, and social ones where I go into Oslo for meetings and sustainable seminars or launches, normally finishing my day with a dinner with friends in town. Naturally, the pandemic has impacted my routines and I have only been to Oslo a handful of times since March. So although my workdays are more monotone, I’m grateful to be living close to the ocean and forest, thus not having a problem avoiding crowds. I’ve been taking a lot of long walks and have finally managed to introduce a daily yoga and meditation routine. And of course, I’m having a lot of digital meetings.
What does 'sustainability' mean to you?
To me, sustainability is a way of living and a way of producing goods that don’t deplete our natural resources, thus securing an ecological balance for people, animals, and nature.
This includes introducing a circular economy and an increased focus on controlling the waste, cutting back on single-use plastic, and buying less but better.
What do you find most challenging about living sustainably?
As I have to practice what I preach, most of the time I find it quite enjoyable and don’t feel as if I’m sacrificing anything. The main exception has been air travel, as travel is so rewarding in so many ways and my mother lives in France, but I’m trying to fly as little as possible. Of course, the coronavirus is effectively forcing everyone to fly a lot less, and it’s inspiring to see how that has already impacted the pollution levels!
What advice would you give to someone looking to live a more sustainable lifestyle?
I would suggest starting with the area which feels most appealing to you, just to get started. It could be buying fewer clothes or only secondhand, eating less meat and biking instead of driving. Psychological research has proven that if you do SOMETHING, you will probably feel like doing more, thus creating a good cycle. Make it fun! In terms of GreenHouse, you can dive into your favourite room to find ideas and recipes, and then go from there.
What are your favourite sustainable Norwegian brands?
Oh, I have many! Most of the Norwegian designers are aware of their carbon footprint and have a focus on ethical production, so there is something for every taste and budget. Some of my personal favourites are Kontrast Project (clean and cool basics in hemp), Envelope1976 (sustainable luxury), AWAN (versatile and comfortable 24-hour dresses), New Movements (premium quality sneakers with recycled rubber soles) and ESP Oslo (fashion-forward pieces in Norwegian wool created at the brand’s own factory in Oslo). To find most of these and more, head to F5 Concept Store and JF Curated, two brilliant boutiques situated in the same street.
What is your advice for someone wanting to start a sustainable brand?
Do your research and find out what’s already out there! It’s virtually impossible to produce something without creating a carbon footprint and both for the planet and for the sake of your brand it’s important to find any potential holes in the market. For example, environmentally friendly underwear, swimwear, and workout clothes are really hard to find, and those items, in particular, can rarely be thrifted for hygienic reasons. I personally welcome any new cool brands with greener options within those fields! And of course, assuring ethical working conditions in addition to environmental sustainability is key.
Post COVID-19, how do you think the world will change once things go back to "normal"?
That is such a good question and I could go on for hours! I think it has become crystal clear that we neither want nor can go back to "normal" in the sense of producing and buying the same level of unnecessary stuff, flying all around the world, sustaining a linear economy and being in denial of the climate crisis. It has been fascinating to note that when societal rules and regulations are used to obtain a clear and immediate goal, most of us do as we’re told and the impact can be amazing.
The climate crisis is an even greater threat than the pandemic, and it’s crucial that we act on it. If enough of the policy makers and world leaders realise this and take the necessary measures, we have a chance of solving the climate crisis.