Published on October 8th, 2008 | by Guest Contributor2
GTR Green Blogger Series: Sara Ost of EcoSalon.com
GreenTalk Radio host Sean Daily talks subject with Sara Ost, blogger,
founder, and Editor-In-Chief of EcoSalon.com, which covers fashion,
wellness, and lifestyle topics for women and garnered 60,000
subscriptions in its first 6 months.
Sean Daily: Hey everybody, welcome to another installment of Green Talk Radio. This is Sean Daily, your host. And today we are doing the latest installment of our green blogger interview series where we talk to the top writers and publishers in the green blogoshpere. And Sara Ost is my guest today. She is a successful writer, blogger, and new media expert with a background in health and wellness. She is the editor-in-chief of the new online magazine EcoSalon.com, a blog launched in March of 2008 targeting women interested in stylish eco living. The site covers numerous topics related to style, fashion and lifestyle and it’s divided into five major sections fashion, décor, wellness, artisan and lifestyle. The EcoSalon site has already grown rapidly in a relatively short time since its launch having already accumulated 60,000 RSS subscribers. So, Sara welcome to Green Talk Radio.
Sarah Ost: Thanks Sean, I’m really excited to be here.
Sean Daily: Well, we are very excited to have you and I want to just congratulate you, first of all, just on the momentum and the success that EcoSalon has generated in its first six months and it’s really impressive.
Sarah Ost: Well, thank you. I am impressed too. It’s been fun and surprising that it’s grown so fast but obviously it’s exciting and we are glad that it’s happening.
Sean Daily: Yes, definitely. Well, it’s somewhat unheard of in any — with any blog to grow that quickly, so again just congratulations there. I am — I am curious about your original reasons for starting EcoSalon and sort of also, you know, what’s making it different from other sites that are out there in the Green blogosphere right now.
Sarah Ost: Well, for me personally, you know, I was blogging in health and I have always had an interest in Green. I did things, you know, back in college I spent a summer in Costa Rica studying environmental biology. And just in small ways, I was, you know, eco conscious myself. And so that was something that I felt really compelled to get into in terms of what I was doing in my career. So as far as what makes EcoSalon different, you know, all of us Green bloggers really work together and that’s why it’s cool is that it’s not really a competition because we are furthering a good message, but I think the cool thing about EcoSalon is that it’s a hybrid, so we are not just a narrow niche sort of blog, and those blogs are important whether it’s a Green parenting blog or, you know, organic food or technology, those are all really wonderful because those bloggers are delving into those issues in depth. But the purpose for EcoSalon is for it to be really kind of a destination where women can go and they can just look at us as kind of starting off point. So we are covering all these various topics and you can find resources to get into whatever your particular interest is, you know, in a deeper way. But I really wanted EcoSalon to be go to one stop kind of shop, so that anyone interested in Green could get started and it would be fun and engaging and there will be useful resources all along the way.
Sean Daily: Yes, definitely. Well, now — so it’s also interesting because I know what you are saying about the niche blogs versus the more general ones. I actually happen to be the editor-in-chief of larger one GreenLivingIdeas which is very broad and it’s quite challenging to produce content across that —
Sarah Ost: It is.
Sean Daily: — 200 areas. I lose a lot of sleep because of that but — and sometimes I am sort of jealous of the other side of the fence where — where people are a little bit more niche. But I noticed yours is sort of in between really because you have got, I mean, there are other -– and we’ve interviewed other bloggers from that area like fashion, we had the Starre Vartan on, from Eco-Chick.
Sarah Ost: Yes, Eco-Chick. Yes.
Sean Daily: Yes, and really cool blog. But they’re — I know they are more, you know, focused on just fashion but you are also covering the wellness aspect as well and — and just sort of general lifestyle.
Sarah Ost: Yes, I mean wellness obviously is kind of my personal background, and so it was important to make sure that we have a well-rounded content approach and have those things too, the wellness and lifestyle. As far as something that I think is a little bit unique about EcoSalon is that, you know, a lot of blogs will focus on celebrities and I think that’s totally fine because there are celebrities who are doing really great things, but I wanted to make sure that we focus on artisans, so that’s why we do have this artisan section where we are saying, OK what are the — who are the actual people behind these products and what are the actual stories and how are people who maybe don’t even have great resources, what are they doing to further to their green cause and bring us green products. And I thought that was something that would be really important. And it’s been well received. I think it’s a good way for people to connect on a deeper level with what they are buying and what they are using everyday.
Sean Daily: On the editorial side, Sara, I was curious, we talked about you mentioned your original reasons for starting it. What would you say is really the, you know, in terms of editorial the driving philosophy behind the EcoSalon say and — and what are you guys really hoping to convey to readers who are regularly reading your blog?
Sarah Ost: Well, the driving message is about eco not green and what I mean by that is and this is why it’s EcoSalon and not green salon and, you know —
Sean Daily: A lot of people consider those as sort of equivalents so this would be interesting to hear this.
Sarah Ost: Sure. Well, and maybe they are, but this is my personal, you know, little platform here. Eco comes from obviously ecology which is — and that’s something I really got hooked on in college when I was in Costa Rica studying, was, you know, this concept that ecology is really — it’s studying an ecosystem and looking at how everything is in balance and how things come together and —
Sean Daily: And I have to say that that’s probably one of the more healthy things that anybody has gotten hooked on in college, than when usually when you hear that —
Sarah Ost: Well, we will talk about the others —
Sean Daily: — Unless you want to. Please continue.
Sarah Ost: There are no Google searches.
Sean Daily: Or Twitter.
Sarah Ost: Right, exactly. So, eco, you know, it’s about balance and so that again is — it’s pretty laid out in terms of what you see on the blog whether it’s — it’s looking at how everything comes together. So, you have got wellness, you’ve got daily things that you can do in your lifestyle. And then there is the need for fashion and making a beautiful environment for yourself in your home. And so I think, you know, Green is just a part of that. And so I am hoping that a year or two from now people are going to look back and say, well, duh, of course we would be green when we go and we buy something new for our living room or when we are out shopping for a few pieces for our fall wardrobe, you know, of course it’s green. Why wouldn’t it be? And why wouldn’t the food we eat be organic and healthy? And why wouldn’t these things be in balance? You know, one of my favorite blog is Triple Pundit, and of course it looks at the Triple bottom line. And I think we can apply that to our lifestyle too and to enjoyment and fashion and beauty that, you know, there doesn’t have to be a conflict, it can be a win-win for everyone. So, really the message of EcoSalon then is just balance.
Sean Daily: Yes. Well, that’s — it’s a very good message. And I am just curious this is always difficult little bit to do on an audio podcast, but can you give us sort of an idea of, you know, for people that are out there that haven’t maybe been to the site yet, a little bit about what type of content visitors might expect to find on EcoSalon.com.
Sarah Ost: Sure. Well, we do — usually every week we have in each section kind of one signature longer piece and we tend to focus on making on those pieces helpful list because it’s in easy-to-read format when you are looking at screen, it doesn’t make your eyes bleed, so we try to keep them sustained. But we really try to cover a range of things. So, for example some popular articles lately have been a post about some really amazing and beautiful pivotal works of environmental art because again that’s part of living in balance is appreciating where artists are contributing to the Green movement. Important reading for those who are interested in organic living and eco fashion and, you know, having a sustainable home. So we have those larger articles that we do. And sometimes they will cover topics like unusual things you can put in your compost or ways that you can save money around your home that are also sensible green steps. And then daily we have a mix of the latest fashion designers who are going green or doing really great things and really innovating. I mean, there are so many cool things now that designers are doing like you can now buy clothing that has really cool funky solar powered designs on it. I mean there is just —
Sean Daily: Yes.
Sarah Ost: — all kinds of cool stuff. So, you know, it’s a mix of these longer kind of guides and then short daily posts that are offering wellness tips. We do present news, but we try to avoid kind of what I would call the more political or Treehugger side of things. I think that’s a fabulous, you know, thing like Chris does obviously in Treehugger, and we try to be more about just positive daily steps that you can take to go green.
Sean Daily: And — and are you also looking for more evergreen where the content sort of stands the test of time a little bit more, is that part of that?
Sarah Ost: Yes, we are. I mean, it’s definitely more about timeless editorial. I do try to make sure that we are at least, you know, we don’t seem like we are totally unaware of what’s going on. So if there is some sort of important green news like, for example, today we have a post up on the main page about, you know, the 12-year-old who just has come up with this incredible solar technology innovation because that’s pretty cool and it’s an interesting feature. So we do incorporate some news, but definitely with an emphasis on, you know, development and cool things that are coming out and —
Sean Daily: That was a great article, I want to interject there, it’s called, I love the title, it says “Mom I think I solved the energy crisis”.
Sarah Ost: Very cool.
Sean Daily: Very cool. Well, we are going to take a break right here. I am sorry, Sara, I don’t mean to cut you off, but we are going to take a quick break and we will be right back. My guest today is Sara Ost. She is the editor-in-chief of EcoSalon.com, a new online magazine dedicated to women who want to go Green in style. This is Sean Daily on Green Talk Radio. We will be right back. Hey, everybody, we’re back on Green Talk Radio. This is Sean Daily. I am talking today with Sara Ost, who is the editor-in-chief of EcoSalon.com, a new online magazine dedicated to women who want to go green in style. And Sara, we were talking before the break about EcoSalon.com and the editorial, your philosophy, things like that. I wanted to switch gears a little bit and ask you, you know, there are those who feel that shopping for new goods in any form is sort of inherently a non-sustainable activity, I mean that’s one —
Sarah Ost: Yes.
Sean Daily: — school of thought out there. What do you say in response to those who claim that shopping, even where it may, for example, be eco friendly and relatively eco friendly and being green or sort of inherently incompatible endeavors.
Sarah Ost: Well, you know I respect the people who are saying that and I think, you know, you can make a pretty good case on either side. I would say though that, for example, you just had mentioned Starre Vartan of Eco-Chick and she actually had a really fabulous essay a few days ago about this very topic. So, just to give a kind of shot out a fellow blogger I really recommend that people read it. It’s probably still on the main page. And this is the conversation I have had with a lot of designers and artists that we’ve profiled on EcoSalon, and one of them Lee Tracy who is the founder of CertainTees which is an Eco-friendly T-Shirt Company that — the T-shirts have provocative messages and she is a fine artist originally. We were talking about this and, you know, the truth is that humans have a fundamental need for artistic expression, and to define their space and define themselves, and that’s part of creating identity. And certainly, you know, you don’t want to go and buy 10 pairs of organic jeans because that does defeat the purpose. But humans do have a need for beauty and for expression and so, you know, what we are sustaining things for, if not for that. And I certainly don’t ever want to promote, you know, the green washers and the companies they are obviously just jumping in on things on the green bandwagon because it’s trendy to see and they are hoping to cash in, but for artists and designers and artisans who are truly passionate about this and, you know, they need to make a livelihood like anyone else and to do it in a green way is brave and courageous and I think we do need to celebrate and support that. And, you know, consumption especially in America is not going to go away and we have to, I think be more practical about that, and not be, you know, not think that we can just somehow go from massive over consumption and wastefulness and throwing things away and sending it to the landfill to just no consumption overnight. It’s not going to happen and we have to navigate it in a sustainable way that doesn’t turn people off.
Sean Daily: Well, it certainly seems that yes, I — I agree you mean there is always a grey area and people tend to get extreme like they think they are —
Sarah Ost: Yes.
Sean Daily: — going “green” is the death of, you know, their entire way of life or something —
Sarah Ost: They are going to eat tofu forever.
Sean Daily: Well — you know, it’s — it’s just or you have to wear this funky clothing that doesn’t look very good —
Sarah Ost: Right, ugly tents bags, yes.
Sean Daily: Yes, yes. You know it just doesn’t have to mean that. I think it’s just, you know — as you were saying earlier about I am paraphrasing but it really the transparency of this where it’s just assumed that the products — the food products or the clothing products are manufactured and purchased in a more sustainable way that that we have sort of arrived when that becomes automatic and transparent in the process.
Sarah Ost: Yes. It really is. And, you know, starting EcoSalon, I didn’t really know — of course, you have in mind who you hope your audience might be, but you don’t know launching any publication like who your audience is really going to be and we actually have such a broad range of people who are coming to Green from different reasons and it’s just because it makes sense and it’s enjoyable and a lot of the times you can actually save money and these things last longer. So, in the end, you’re actually using less and buying less. But we have plenty of conservative readers and, you know, people, they really are. It’s like, yes, why wouldn’t it be green? Of course, I’ll buy this. Of course, I’ll do this. It’s saving money and it’s enjoyable and it’s healthy, so, why not?
Sean Daily: Yes, and hopefully at the corporate level, these companies, you know, go from having to sort of altruistically be motivated to do so to it being either a financial or political expectation that they do so.
Sarah Ost: Yes.
Sean Daily: To stay alive. That would be good. Anyway, that’s a dream that I have with regards to the manufacturing side of it. So, you know, Sara, ultimately a blog such as EcoSalon or really any publication or media, say, comes down to the editorial team that’s behind the scenes actually doing the writing. Can you tell us a little about EcoSalon’s writing staff?
Sarah Ost: Well, I have to say, without tooting my own horn too much, I’m just so thrilled about the team that we have. I have 13 writers, a couple of them are on hiatus right now, but we just have an incredible team. We’ve got a best selling author, we have a Boston Globe Columnist and, you know, whether it’s Mike, who is our resident male and he’s just hilarious.
Sean Daily: Resident male, that’s good.
Sarah Ost: He’s our lone bird and our lone male and he’s just phenomenal. You know, whether it’s him or whether it’s Kim with her, kind of sassy relationship perspective or, you know, Susan or Luanne, I mean, I’m going to leave someone out. But they’re all just wonderful and they’re all so committed to Green in their own way and just — you know, in hiring everybody and putting this team together, what I wanted was to have a spectrum of green voices. You know, Luanne, for example is a Green design expert and consultant. But then, you know, some of our other writers are newer to Green and some are really into fashion whereas others are, you know, like Sarah is — not myself but, Sarah Irani is a total earth woman. So, I wanted to have a range because I thought that would be the best way to connect with readers is because everybody is at a different — living a different kind of lifestyle and they’re going to go green in different ways. And so, I wanted EcoSalon to be inclusive. And we have a lot of fun. We actually, we tend to spar, I mean, we don’t always agree on some of the products and some of us will think they’re just gorgeous and some of us don’t or, you know, we have different approaches. But that makes it fun.
Sean Daily: That’s important. You know, you have to have, if everybody’s always agreeing with each other, there’s probably something wrong.
Sarah Ost: Oh, it’d be so boring.
Sean Daily: I recorded, completely separate topic, but I recorded podcast on a business with three or four other people and we listened to the episodes where we agreed too much and we were like, oh, I hated that, we needed more argument. So, sometimes, well somebody will have this full contrarian viewpoint out there just to keep the episode interesting.
Sarah Ost: You know —
Sean Daily: I appreciate that. Yes. Well, I’m curious too about, you know, this and this is actually a question that I ask of all my guests and I’m going to cater this one a little bit towards your niche.
Sarah Ost: OK.
Sean Daily: What would you recommend for women who want to go green as far as where to start?
Sarah Ost: Well, there are —
Sean Daily: Your top tips, as it were.
Sarah Ost: OK. Oh my gosh, there are so many but there are — I would day, start looking at different areas of your life and break it down. Get a journal out. Don’t be afraid to write this stuff down. The first, I would say is just look at yourself and your own body and what you’re putting into your body and on your body. So, think about, you know, what are you eating? Are you — if you’re not vegetarian, then the meat and dairy you eat should be organic and it should be as sustainable as possible and you can look at, you know, limiting portion size for example, and that’s a really easy way to both be healthy and to support the planet. And so that’s again about balance. So, just start with yourself, and that’s — honestly that’s where a lot of people who are new to green can really connect because it is about being healthy and being personally sustainable. You know, what’s going to keep me healthy in the future. So, look at the food you’re eating and then the connection to others. So, you know, is it better to go to Costco or would it be better to go to the farmers market and not only are you putting healthier foods into your body but then, you’re supporting, you know, local farmers and connecting with local farmers and having a better sense of what you’re putting in your body and connecting to the Earth. So, I would say, start with that. The next step, of course, would be looking around you’re immediate environment. So, your workplace, you know, get everyone to do sack lunches. I have a friend who does this really cool thing with her coworkers where they all take turns making healthy lunches for each other. And they actually save money because they — each person only has to make lunches one day a week. So there are kinds of cool things you can do, you know, at your workplace to go green whether it’s recycling the office paper or using more eco-friendly office supplies or doing a brown-bag lunch. And then, look around your home. That’s so important. For example, we don’t really need to use paper towels because we really shouldn’t be throwing these disposables away. And you can do all kinds of things like that, just simple basic tips, you know. And then, think about, you know, is it better to go and buy cheap furniture at Wal-Mart or IKEA when you could buy something that’s maybe a little bit more expensive but is going to be something that you feel really good about and proud of, and that is made by artisans who are fair-trade and done in a sustainable way. And something that is really, you know, catching on that we used to kind of look down on I think in America is buying vintage. So — I mean, most of my house is actually furnished with craigslist, and I have found some amazing incredible furniture that is truly gorgeous and would probably be pretty costly, but I got it for a steal and it didn’t require any resources to make. So, look around your home and see how you can make just your home environment not only more eco-friendly but more beautiful. And so, ultimately, that’s something that’s going to be sustainable if you’re taking that approach.
Sean Daily: I have to say on the craigslist too. If you want to have a really, sort of, cool bed almost scary experience, put something on craigslist that you want to give away, you’re done with and see how quickly people show up —
Sarah Ost: Oh, yes.
Sean Daily: — to pick it up. I mean, it’s crazy. Like, I’ve had people over in 10 minutes.
Sarah Ost: Oh, craigslist can be an interesting experience.
Sean Daily: Yes, it is, to say the least.
Sarah Ost: Yes.
Sean Daily: Well, those are all really great tips and did you have any others before we cut to our last break?
Sarah Ost: Well, then I — you know, I would just say after that, you know, start exploring the Green Blogs, whether it’s the Green Options Network or TreeHugger or my own site and start getting into what’s called Hacks, which is, you know, hacking away seeing how much efficiency you can get out of something. I mean, there are just dozens of things you can around your home, like, you can get a programmable thermostat, just so many things you can do and ways to increase fuel efficiency on your car. So, that’s kind of the next level. But definitely start with just looking at what’s going into your body and what you’re putting on your body and how healthy and sustainable that is.
Sean Daily: Yes, and as long as you mentioned that for those who are regular Green Talk listeners, definitely — or even those who aren’t, please check out previous episodes, actually I have interviewed few companies like Amazing Controls that deal with the programmable thermostats and other products like that and I just recently had a guest and we were talking about driving efficiency and tools that help you drive more efficiently and save gas. So, interestingly you mentioned that. We’re going to take a break right here, our last break, and then we will be back with Sara Ost. She’s the — she’s a blogger and the Editor-in-Chief of EcoSalon.com. It’s a new online magazine dedicated to women who want to go green in style. We’ll be right back on Green Talk Radio. Thanks, everyone. Hey. everybody, we’re back on Green Talk Radio. Thanks for tuning in today. My guest again today is Sara Ost, who is the Editor-in-Chief of EcoSalon.com, which is a new online magazine dedicated to women who want to go green in style. Sarah, we were talking before this break about a lot of things including sort of responsible shopping and, you know, really in your writing team and your recommendations and again, I really appreciate those tips that you offered us. I’m curious, who do you think in your estimation are some of the more exciting innovators out there, both in terms of green designers as well as companies that are doing interesting things in this area?
Sarah Ost: Well, there are a lot and I have to tell you when I first started with the writers and we were researching, I was just amazed at how many there are. I mean, it’s just incredible the resources that are available to people but I’ll tell you some of my favorites.
Sean Daily: Yes, please do.
Sarah Ost: I am sort of fashion hound but I’m working on being better about that but, as far as the break the bank favorite designer definitely would be Linda Loudermilk, just really stunning eco-fashion. But then for the everyday, there are so many great green fashion designers but a few of my favorites are Lara Miller. You know, a kind of a cool new thing that we’re seeing in eco-fashion or it’s not really new but that’s getting more traction is this concept of buying really luxurious high-end fabrics and buying it once. So, you buy one good Cashmere sweater and then you have it for a lifetime. And Izzy Lane is one of my favorites. She’s a British designer and she rescues and raises, you know, sheep and other animals for — and goats and things for these luxury fabrics and it’s just — she’s a really cool woman and it’s a really cool story. So, I get excited about that in fashion, finding these designers who are really committed and caring and there are so many of them. Izzy Lane is a great one. As far as green companies, of course I love VivaTerra and we’re very lucky to have them as corporate sponsors. They are a company that was green truly before it was trendy and they really are green to the core. And, they’ve got all kinds of wonderful things in terms of décor, you know, from bamboo to sustainable hardwoods to some really nice eco-fashions. There’s just really great stuff. Something that I’ve kind of been into is the HYmini little personal gadget, I’m kind of a geek so, you know, that’s sort of fun. Wind-power way to charge things and there are several wind-power little chargers out there but I think the HYmini is pretty cute and seems to be popular with a lot of my girlfriends. It’s a lot of fun. There are just so many cool things. Gosh, I don’t even know where to start. But, something that I like, that I’m seeing is that a lot of old staid companies, like, Le Creuset, the cast iron cookware company are now finding ways to green their production practices. But it’s just — I’m seeing it all over and other, you know, people who are in green and I’m sure you too, are seeing it with companies. For example I was just talking to the CEO of Floor and it’s fascinating to see these companies that are not only, you know, doing green things, kind of for the press but actually going beyond that and they don’t just have green programs but they’re actually greening their manufacturing process and really showing a commitment with the — the employees are actually showing a commitment to green. So, if you need to re-carpet your home, you might look at Floor. But if you have any specific companies I’m happy to recommend them but there — again, really there’s just no — there is no shortage of truly green retailers and companies now for whatever that you might need, whether it’s décor or something for your kitchen or something for yourself or your car or a gift. And, that’s the thing, is it’s not crunchy anymore and it’s not ugly. I mean, there are just some really stunning designs and amazing creations coming from every area that you could possibly imagine.
Sean Daily: Great. But we’re almost out of time for today. But before we go, I wanted to ask you one last question, which is, with all the success you guys have experienced in your first six months, what can we expect from EcoSalon in the next six months and beyond?
Sarah Ost: Well, I would certainly love people’s feedbacks. We —
Sean Daily: How can they reach you?
Sarah Ost: They can e-mail me but we’re really good about having a pretty lively community right on the site. So, I encourage people to just leave comments. And we like to talk about things and get different perspectives, so, please feel free to share. But, I do want to say we are going to be unveiling some new things in October. So, I think that’s going to be pretty cool and I hope people will check it out. No major changes but some cool new features. Just we hope to continue to provide good content and engaging writing and just be there with people as they go green.
Sean Daily: That’s great and as long as we’re talking about connecting, did you — I think you’re on Twitter as well, aren’t you?
Sarah Ost: Yes, yes, we’re all over the place. But you can connect with EcoSalon on Twitter. It’s just twitter.com/ecosalon and we’re pretty active in social media. So, we definitely love feedback and interaction. So, don’t be shy.
Sean Daily: Yes, and as long as we’re plugged in, I have to say there’s quite a really cool green community of bloggers and just people that are interested, readers and experts and all kinds of folks on there that’s really evolved on Twitter. So we spend a lot of time, all right, with Green Living Ideas in that space as well, so — or on that site. So, for anybody who is interested in following green living ideas, we have a Twitter account which is twitter.com/greenlivingidea because they ran out of — they didn’t have enough letters for the S, oh, well. And I’m on there as Sean Daily, S-E-A-N D-A-I-L-Y. We’d love to connect with you guys on there and definitely, you know, you should consider connecting with Sara following her tweets as well, as they say tweets. Always sounds kind of funny, but that’s what it is.
Sarah Ost: Yes.
Sean Daily: And hopefully no Fail Whale, which if you’re — if you use Twitter you know what I’m talking about there.
Sarah Ost: Yes.
Sean Daily: And if you don’t, don’t worry about it. Hopefully you’ll never see it. OK, well, my guest again today has been Sara Ost. She is the Editor-in-Chief of EcoSalon.com, a new online magazine dedicated to women who want to go green in style. Sara, it’s been a real pleasure talking to you today. Thank you.
Sarah Ost: And so much fun.
Sean Daily: Yes, thanks again for coming on and sharing.
Sarah Ost: Thank you Sean.
Sean Daily: I appreciate it and we’d love to talk to you again in the future.
Sarah Ost: I would love that. Thank you so much.
Sean Daily: Thanks, as always to everyone listening in today. Remember for more free on-demand podcast articles, videos and other information related to living a greener lifestyle, visit our website at www.greenlivingideas.com. We’d also love to hear your comments, feedback and questions. Send us an e-mail at email@example.com.