“Be the change you want to see in the world:” that’s all it takes to make the world a better place. As simple as that.
Or rather, as simple as it should be but, unfortunately, it is not: everyone needs to take part in the movement to make it happen as soon as possible. We are talking about the sustainable movement which has been gaining more and more attention in recent years and which can count on powerful voices to spread the message and to reach people all over the world. Among these icons of change, we find Arizona Muse: you may know her as one of the most famous supermodels of recent years, but Arizona is way more than that.
First of all, she’s human: and it’s important to remind that because the change can be possible even thanks to the respect for other people (something that is unfortunately missing in the fashion industry for example and, not by chance, that’s one of the most polluting industries in the word). Then, she’s a climate activist, the founder of a beautiful charity project called Dirt, which is dedicated to the regeneration of soil, and the first Global Advocate for Sustainability of Aveda.
She talks with passion about her path through sustainability, what makes her proud and happy about working with Aveda (plus, her favorite products from the brand), and inspiring people to make “small” changes in their habits that can have a huge impact on our planet’s health (such as buying from eBay or reading the label to gain as many information about what you are buying as possible). How do we know that? Well, we spoke with her about all these topics. See? you can trust her commitment to making the future of Earth a present priority. And if we weren’t convincing enough, well… Just follow her and witness it with your own eyes.
You’re a climate activist, and you’re doing an amazing job with all the sustainable projects that you’re following. How and when did you understand that you wanted to take part in this change concerning the sustainability issue?
Thank you! I love what I do as an activist so much, and I’ve been a model for 12 years now, and I’ve been on my learning journey that turned into activism for 6 years. I cannot explain even with words how much better my life is now, how much more interesting everything is, the conversations I have are so much more meaningful, and my life has a purpose; I’m raising awareness for a very big issue, which is sustainable fashion, how we can help our industry to transition into having a positive impact on the Earth that we all live on, and part of that is learning as much as I can about the climate crisis and about what people on the other side of the world are experiencing because it’s very different than what I’m experiencing.
Definitely. Also, on that subject, you recently spoke at the COP26 and mentioned the importance for the decision-makers (and not only) to listen to sustainable advocates and activists, to learn more about their experience. Has there been an encounter, during your experience as a sustainable activist, that shaped your approach to sustainability, somehow?
Yes, very much so. At first, I just started learning about sustainable fashion, and that quite quickly took me to learn about climate change, and that quite quickly took me to learn about soil because a lot of what we are emitting negatively, like negative carbon emissions, are from agriculture, the way that we grow things, and that isn’t only food, I learned, but it’s also fashion. We grow all of our fashion in soil, but we don’t stop very often to say, “Thank you, farmers, thank you so much for growing my clothes for me!” [laughs] But they do, and they also grow all of our beauty products, and our hair care products, they’re grown on farms, so, we need to tell that story more. I started a charity, called Dirt, to tell that story and talk about farming, and how we need farmers, and how we should respect farmers. I personally love farming, it is my ambition to become a farmer, and I’m going to spend my time volunteering on farms as much as possible, and I just love it. My charity goal is set up to regenerate soil, globally, because soil can sequester so much carbon when it is healthy, and healthy soil means that all the trillion microorganisms living in soil are alive and happy and doing stuff and busy! A very scientific definition for you… [laughs]
Since you mentioned your charity, I would also like to ask you, what are your upcoming projects with Dirt? Is there something in particular that we should expect?
Yes. It’s definitely been an amazing start to the charity: I launched earlier this year and have already had a lot of interest from businesses that want to support Dirt’s work; it is really moving to me to know that there are people out there who want to support it. We just launched a partnership with Anya Hindmarch, who has made biodegradable compostable leather bags in support of Dirt, which is amazing – she did a huge amount of research to find leather that was compostable, that wasn’t going to bring toxins into the compost pile. Then we have other partnerships that haven’t yet been announced, that are coming out later this year and next year as well, which is so exciting. This work is amazing; the part I love about it the most is talking to farmers and asking them, “How can I support you? What do you need?” and hearing their answers is just amazing.
You’re doing an amazing job and we can’t see what’s next for your charity project! You’re also Aveda’s first global advocate for sustainability, how has your journey with the brand been so far?
Absolutely amazing! It’s incredible, as a model, to be representing a business that I 100% feel in support of. That is so special and I’m so grateful for this role with Aveda because I know that every single product they have is having an as positive impact as possible on nature, on the humans along their supply chain; they’re so thoughtful and so conscious, and we both want the same thing, which is a healthy planet.
I also attended the presentation you did one month ago about the collection with Phillip Lim, and we’ve also received the products, I can’t wait to try them, and I also read the gift guide you included with them. If you had to choose, what would your favorite product or collection from Aveda be?
I really love the Thickening Tonic and the Volumizing Tonic; they both look the same in their little bottle, and I’ve run out of the volumizing one because I use so much of it, it’s amazing. Those are the two products that I use the most, also alongside the shampoo and conditioner. I really like the Nutriplenish range of shampoo and conditioner, but I also love the Botanical Repair range of shampoo and conditioner, it’s so good. And then there’s a new product that I have in my hair right now and I’ve been using it almost every day, underneath every kind of styling product that I want to use because it’s a leave-in treatment for nurturing your hair, and it’s amazing, I love it, and it adds texture, as well, to the hair, which is really nice, I like it.
“It’s incredible, as a model, to be representing a business that I 100% feel in support of. That is so special and I’m so grateful for this role with Aveda because I know that every single product they have is having an as positive impact as possible on nature, on the humans along their supply chain.”
What are the pieces of advice that you would love to give in order to start having a more sustainable lifestyle, also fashion and beauty-wise, considering your experience?
The first piece of advice is to read the labels of everything you’re going to buy, and for fashion it’s, if possible, to buy second-hands; with beauty and haircare, we can’t buy second-hand, so that’s not an option, but with fashion that’s obviously the first step. Whatever you can, buy it second-handed, and that applies to things in your home, too: I’m looking at my living room right now, and pretty much all of our furniture came from eBay, and I’m so proud of that. I love mid-century furniture, and it just feels so good to know that these pieces of furniture have been used so many times by many different families before us, and hopefully they will continue to be used by many different families after us, as well, and it prevents me from buying new furniture, which can be very harmful to the environment.
Then, if you need to buy something new, read the label, know what’s in it, and if you don’t understand the label, that’s fine, they’re really complicated, so google the ingredients and the materials and learn the stories. I also love to go and read the sustainability page on brands that I’m about to buy from because I need to know what they have to tell me about how their practices are, what they’re doing to be a better business. One tip I’d like to give on reading these pages because, if you’re new to them, they’re actually quite confusing sometimes: first of all, they’re not always called “sustainability page,” sometimes they’re called “Do Good,” or “A Better World” [laughs]; you can read through it and – this is a very important thing – if you’ve read through the first paragraph and you haven’t learned anything, that means that they’re not doing anything because the brands who are doing something tell you it, and you feel like, “Wow, that’s so cool! I’m impressed,” but if you don’t have this reaction, that means they’re greenwashing, and you can just exit from that page.
“I also love to go and read the sustainability page on brands that I’m about to buy from because I need to know what they have to tell me about how their practices are, what they’re doing to be a better business.”
Greenwashing is becoming such a huge problem in the fashion industry because certain brands just need to say that they are doing something, but by doing so in that way, they’re just creating more confusion, especially for someone who’s approaching that topic for the first time. So, that’s a really great piece of advice. What’s the latest thing you’ve discovered about yourself?
This morning, someone who’s working with me on my charity, Dirt, while I was doing my makeup, she asked, “You don’t use a mirror?” and I said, “No!” [laughs] I really don’t use a mirror to do my make-up! I mean, if I’m going out for a very sexy dinner and I want to look amazing, then yes, I would do that in front of my mirror, but if I’m doing a daytime makeup look, I don’t need a mirror… It’s funny! [laughs]
Over the course of your incredible career in fashion, have you witnessed any changes sustainability-wise? Do you think we’re starting to do what should be done? I’m curious about your experience as a model and insider…
I have a lot to say on this [laughs]. One thing that I noticed as a model because I was lucky to be invited into the core of the fashion industry and witness the very center of all these big fashion houses whose names we all know, is that there’s a strong culture of fear in fashion, there’s a hierarchy that shapes like a steep pyramid, it’s not even like a wide pyramid, it’s a steep pyramid, and there’s a lot of fear; everyone’s looking up above them and they’re scared of the person above them, and I think that this has ramifications around the whole industry that are having really negative effects and we need to equalize people in fashion, start treating people who work in fashion with a lot more kindness and a lot more respect and encouragement, rather than fear and blame.
I’ve noticed that in fashion a lot of people are trained to and conditioned to just desire to shift blame, and when you’re constantly just trying to shift blame, you’re never going to be able to do your best work because you’re so busy trying to shift the blame away from you. And you also can’t ask questions because of that fear culture, you can’t ask the person above you, “Did I understand you properly?” or “What about this idea?” because you’re so scared of them and they’re just going to bark directions at you and it’s up to you to figure them out.