Zem JoaquinFounder of EcofabulousSAN FRANCISCO, CAPhotography by Lauri LevenfeldStory by Lauri Levenfeld
Zem Joaquin was an easy pick for the celebration of Earth Day. As the founder of Eco-fabulous and the current Editor at Large of Home & Lifestyle for Huffington Post, Zem has always been someone I admired for her utmost passion, dedication, and concern for her community and the world around us. Zem has lived the eco-life all of her life. It was never about being on trend and always a lifetime dedication.
When Zem and I decided to focus her story around the many things each of us can do to make our lives more eco-friendlier; we also decided to share the glamorous world of eco-fashion and show how grown up it has become. We invited Mary Kinney of Style Army yourstylearmy.com to style this fabulous shoot with all Zem’s favorite eco-designers, beauty and home brands included.
I’m Zem…I was raised on a (non-religious) commune in Palo Alto. I have lived in California my whole life, except when I lived in London, Milan, Brussels and Paris. I am a mother of two. I am a horse mom, which means I spend endless weekends going from horse show to horse show with my daughter. I love the pony hunter division and I will be rather sad when my daughter moves to jumpers.
I love yoga, roller-skating, ice-skating, scuba diving, fishing, hiking, traveling, entertaining, and spa-going with my husband or girlfriends. A long-time Tedster, I love my role as a host for a community that greatly impacts my life. Additionally, I am on the advisory board of the Future of Storytelling Conference.
I created Eco-fabulous eight years ago as a vehicle and authority on stylish, sustainable living; an inside source for both “eco” and “fabulous”. It became a part of Huffington Post 6 months ago and I am currently the Editor at Large for Home & Lifestyle. I am also a curator for Ebay, the publisher of Zem’s List, and I was on the founding team for Splendora.com.
I spend a lot of my time designing ecofabulous showhouses to create context for unique materials and recently partnered with the incredible architecture firm Vital in San Francisco to transform a defunct powerplant warehouse into a vibrant innovation office for NRG Energy. I am a very active board member of Global Green USA and The Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Institute.
I am inspired by…
1. Travel provides me with immense inspiration. Visiting new cultures and communing with various species evokes tremendous passion.
2. Friends are often inspirational, especially my friends that are architects, designers, writers, scientists and artists.
3. Family. My husband is hilarious and unquenchably creative. We can riff off one another for hours. My daughter’s commitment and grace when riding blows me away and my son’s passion for and deep knowledge of biological sciences keeps me on my toes. I feel very blessed to have beautiful challenges on a daily basis.
4. I get so much out of well programmed conferences, especially when science is part of the equation. My favorites are TED, The Future of Storytelling, Fortune Brainstorm Green, TEDWomen, The Weekend to be Named Later and the Lobby.
5. My home inspired the creation of ecofabulous. I cherish every inch and the incredible people I share it with.
“I am the poster-child for following your passion. And as a family we often discuss what we are thankful for. Nothing should be taken for granted and I have imparted what my parents and grandparents instilled in me: always give back.”
The lessons I have learned from my children are endless. Every day my son teaches me about a new species and teaches me new ways to use google docs. His art and writings influence my own. My daughter has literally taught me to jump a horse and the complex world of the equestrian. She has taught me how to be kinder and more patient because she is. Mostly I’ve learned that you never stop growing and learning. I always strive to be better for them and for myself.
Simple Ways to Make Your Home/ Family More Eco-Friendly/ Savvy…
1. Leave your shoes at the door. Why track in all of the chemicals and feces from the streets?
2. Get a Brizo One Touch faucet or put a foot pedal under your sink to control flow. You will be amazed by how much water you will save!
3. Every time an incandescent light goes out, replace it with an LED.
5. Make sure any new furniture and paint you get is free of formaldehyde and other VOC’s.
6. If you aren’t vegetarian, meatless Mondays will cut down on you carbon footprint or go one step further and do what the founder of Treehugger Graham Hill: “Weekday Veg” means that you save meat as a treat for the weekends. I’m a fan of Beyond Meat, a product that has the consistency and taste of chicken but not the negative environmental or health implications.
7. Get a water filter. Undersink atop your counter, plastic bottles are completely unnecessary if you filter your own tap water. I fill stainless steel bottles like S’well or glass bottles like BKR and LifeFactory and pack them for all family members. If you are going to be out somewhere without access to clean water, pack a Bobble which has a built-in filter. Kids love them!
8. Pack no waste lunches. My daughter adores her Planet Box stainless steel lunch box, which is carved out into just-right compartments for organic treats. My son is a fan of UKonserve. He likes big portions with less variety in his stainless bento-box containers. Steel is recyclable, easy to clean and doesn’t collect bacteria. Make sure you pack reusable cutlery too. I’m a fan of To-go Ware.
9. Opt for organic sheets and clothes. If that is too steep an order, just make sure that when you buy new ones, the fabric is not mixed. For instance, something that is cotton mixed with polyester can’t biodegrade, nor can it be recycled like either of those fabrics on their own would be.
10. Use an eco-friendly skincare line. There are so many excellent lines now, there is no reason to use conventional when 60% of what you put on your skin gets absorbed into your bloodstream. Favorites are Tatcha, Tata Harper, Nude, Juice Beauty, Weleda and on the accessible side, Yes To Carrots, (Blueberries is the best).
11. BONUS: Go solar! It can now even be free with providers like SolarCity.
As a new mom, I spent a lot of time doing mommy and me yoga and hiking with a baby jogger. I wish that I had done it longer. It was such a magical time.
I have been really proud to see my daughter become an exceptional equestrian. It is an amazing journey that we have taken together. And my son was asked on stage at the TED Conference when he was 3 to assist a bi-pedal motion scientist. That image still lingers.
As a mom, I have tried not to change too much personally; but the areas that I have changed are things like eating earlier, swearing less, traveling a little less or with the kids. I have also changed our home. When the kids were young, both had severe asthma. After trying everything, I realized that their environment was contributing to their bad health.
Things I did to combat allergies…
1. I eliminated all of the VOC’s and fire-retardants in the furniture and cabinetry. Whether you do custom or DIY from Ikea or Home Depot, you can find formaldehyde-free options if you ask.
2. I used cork for flooring. It is sound and impact absorbent, easy to clean, durable, rapidly-renewable and doesn’t mask allergens. Best bet is to avoid carpeting all together.
3. All of the mattresses in the house are made with natural rubber, organic cotton and wool. We even have wool toppers, which are much better for allergy sufferers than feathers.
4. The paint is Benjamin Moore Natura throughout the house to avoid Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
“My icons are Elettra Wiedemann because she is an environmentalist that exudes brains and beauty and is married to a true partner. And Arianna Huffington has been an incredible mentor and teacher of fearlessness.”
Five Ways I Am Continually Inspired in Living Sustainably…
1. I’m on the board of the Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Institute and learn so much from the ongoing work we do with companies to follow the principles that Bill McDonough and Michael Braungart developed. It is absolutely clear that no product should be created without the next use in mind and that we must be clear which waste stream (biological or technological) a product will eventually enter.
2. I read Huffpost Green, DrGreen.com, Treehugger, and any other environmentally-focused site I can click to. I also read books and sustainability reports to stay on top of things.
3. I talk to architects, builders and designers to discover what they think is most inspirational. I love the Dwell on Design Conference/Expo to see dozens in one fell swoop.
4. I also attend conferences like Fortune Brainstorm Green and TED to be inspired.
5. While researching products and people to feature on Huffington Post, I learn a tremendous amount! I relish sharing what I find.
I am currently consulting (environmental design and strategy) with an energy company, a gorgeous hotel and a company that is creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.
Wow! What a wealth of knowledge and resources Zem, thank you. It is a beautiful thing to make changes today on Earth Day, even if they are smaller things you know you can stick to. I am starting by walking my daughter to school and planting seeds tomorrow after school. For more fun on Zem, go to 7×7. xo