Sustainable Shopping Spotlight

Sustainable Shopping Spotlight

Published August 12, 2021

Sustainable Living Enthusiast and recently voted Top 50 Sexiest Environmentalist Austin Kasso tells us about his Plans for the Future and what Inspired him to set up Striver

Voucher Shares is going to be interviewing leading sustainable shopping brands, sustainable fashion advocates and sustainable lifestyle gurus to create more awareness of conscious shopping. In our first interview of this kind, Austin Kasso talks to us.

Austin is the Founder and CEO of Striver and Sustainable Living Facebook group which has grown to over 85k members globally. Austin was recognized as one of the Top 50 Sexiest Environmentalists alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and David Attenborough by a poll carried out by Green.org earlier this year.

Striver Online Logo - Sustainable Living Site

What inspired you to set up Striver Online and your Sustainable Living Facebook group?

Austin: I started the group in 2014 because of the desire to unite people from all walks of life on the idea of achieving sustainability, since I felt that ultimately this is what will bring peace to humanity. It seems logical that if we can collectively focus on the efficiency of our partnership with nature and ourselves, we will help more people make decisions that make the most sense for our happiness and survival. And hopefully we can get the whole world on the same page - not to necessarily agree on everything, but simply learn to coexist in a mutually beneficial way. Hopefully warzones will be replaced by common ground. But how can we all be aware of everything and everyone and what is sustainable and what isn’t, what is propaganda and what is real, in this crowded world of different and often conflicting habits, needs, and desires? Not to mention censorship, corruption, misinformation...the works. One way or another we are going to have to face these issues head on. My answer to this was to create a Facebook group where people would work together to educate each other about their experiences, failures and successes, and insights regarding the social, economic, and environmental aspects of Sustainable Living. This created a huge opportunity to connect people with resources and information that otherwise isn’t easily accessible.

For the first several years, membership was fairly small with only a few thousand active people. Then when the pandemic (covid) hit, our group instantly spiked to 20,000 members within just a couple months, and continued to grow at that rapid pace ever since: now reaching nearly 90,000 members. Then, before I could blink, the conflicts in the group intensified, and battles ensued over the definition of sustainability. I then recruited a team of moderators to help me get the group under control, enforce the rules, and ensure that it would be a forum for productive and civil discussions. It didn’t take long for us to mitigate most of the negativity and provide a safer and more welcoming environment for everyone. We maintain this integrity due to the constant attention from our moderation team as well as help from our members to report comments that are breaking the rules. Now members commend us for being one of the most positive, engaging, supportive and inspiring groups they are a part of, on top of it being their favourite place to talk about sustainability.

I also noticed something else. Repeatedly, we would get people posting questions asking for advice on where to find sustainable products, blogs, podcasts, Crowdfunder’s, and local initiatives to support. People were saying they found no luck with Google, or it was otherwise too confusing to navigate. They were asking if anyone knew of an all-in-one source for this. Our group was a perfect start, but outside of isolated posts with 300 answers for personal or favourite blogs and online stores, there was still no all-in-one directory where people could easily search and navigate the world of Sustainable Living. So, I decided to use my experience in web design to create this directory, named “Striver”, at www.Striver.online. It is a member-curated platform accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world. The selections will grow and adapt automatically with new submissions, meaning the search filters will constantly update with new content, and continuously expand the options for new locations and categories.

In order to position ourselves among the leading platforms in sustainability, we’ve developed a media partnership with Dylan Welch, the Founder and CEO of Green.Org and Dylan Welch Media. Dylan has a long background in television production, having produced over 1,000 TV shows with ABC, NBC, CBS, and Amazon, before starting his own company with a focus on clean technology, renewable energy, and sustainability. Since then, Dylan has interviewed hundreds of scientists, CEOs, and experts in the renewable energy space, and has shared their stories to millions of people. In addition, Dylan Welch is organizing and hosting the 2021 Green Summit in San Diego, September 23-24th. Keynote speakers include Hap Klopp, Rob Greenfield, Phil Toussaint, Susan Stone, among many more. I will also be presenting as a featured speaker at the Green Summit to discuss our mission with Striver and our Sustainable Living group. The event will be streamed around the world, and you may register online at www.green-summit.org

Green.org Logo

You have over 85,000 members on your Sustainable Living Facebook group, that's pretty epic! How are you using  your audience to make a difference? 

Austin: Thank you, I am super excited for the future of our group. Our 85k members help spread content to millions more people on a monthly basis, as we can see from reviewing the analytics of our group. And that number actually made my jaw drop, because I had no idea we reached that many people until Facebook provided that analytics tool in a new update. It feels like we are some major TV network, and to many people, we actually are their first and sometimes only group they pay attention to daily as there is always something new and interesting, with hundreds of new posts every week and hundreds of thousands of engagements per month. It continues to grow by over a thousand new members per week, and it looks like we will reach 100k members very soon. Now more than ever, we are looking at ways to better serve our group members. We are inviting professionals and anyone with skills to join our mentorship program, which is free to use in our group, and is a great way for experts to connect with people who need help with certain things or require one-on-one coaching. We want to maximize how this group can help leverage people’s missions and goals to help them achieve their dreams. We aim to be creative in our pursuit and do as much as we can to make it easier for people to learn, discover, and get involved no matter where they are in the world. This is a huge task, but we think it’s the only way to go.

What do you think makes people care about shopping sustainably and living a more sustainable lifestyle?

Austin: There are various motives, it can be one or many reasons. Overall, I think sustainability is an intuitively attractive concept to anyone who is conscientiously making an effort to improve their quality of life. Being wasteful and inefficient with resources can be stressful and naturally provide its own incentives for trying to do more with less. People for example will discuss popular swaps, where they replace single-use items for reusable alternatives that work better and cost them less over time while producing less waste. Where there is scarcity, it is important to focus on reusing, preserving, and being creative with available resources. People also decide to support sustainable brands in an attempt to support small business over large corporations, hoping the systemic shift in consumer choices will help cut back on the relentless industrial mass-production of waste and pollution. People want to know that their habits are supporting a regenerative and circular economy.

Woman Holding Sustainable Shopping Bag

Congratulations on making into Green.orgs top 50 Sexiest Environmentalists list! You came 40th, beating Leonardo De Caprio who was 50th, that must have felt pretty good? 

Austin: Thank you, it is truly an honour to be recognized as someone making an impact, it is further reassurance that I’m doing the right thing. I put all of my energy and passion into building this movement to help others, to help restore our sanity and to replace greed with abundance for all. It feels great that my efforts are noticed and appreciated, because I know that people are listening, and that’s what matters.

Austin Kasso

What do you think is having the biggest impact on our ability to live a  sustainable lifestyle?

Austin: I will always say that individual choices are our greatest chance to set an example for others, no matter what it is. Coming together on social media creates a bigger impact by exponentially influencing more people. As we further develop these channels, we are creating more opportunities for sustainable goals to be realized.

Do you think retailers or consumers should be doing more to create sustainable shopping habits? 

Austin: I think this is a complex issue that can be resolved one step at a time, from both retailers and consumers. I think there are many facets to this that people don’t consider at first. One obvious thing being that nothing will change overnight. It’s not pressure we need to put on people; it’s encouragement. We need to focus less on competition and more on unity. Instead of blame, we need responsibility. The mindset, “if it’s meant to be, it’s up to me” needs to come first.

Sustainably packed vegetables vs plastic packed vegetables

What would be your top 5 tips on living a more sustainable lifestyle?

Austin:

1. Travel more sustainably. When you can, choose to bike, walk, or carpool. Or if you have to fly, try to find an airline where you might pay a little more to offset your carbon emissions.

2. Try to eliminate your e-waste. Every year we throw out over 50 million pounds of electronics that are no longer used. Research companies that recycle those electronics more responsibly.

3. Talk to your bosses or employer to find out what you can do to make your workplace more environmentally friendly. There are tons of different things you can do with recycling programs or making the place more energy efficient. All you have to do is ask and see what they can do to make a little difference.

4. Really think about where you buy from. Be aware of Greenwashing, which is when companies or products lead you to believe they are sustainable when they aren’t. Familiarize yourself with labels and use websites to find out more information on eco labels. It helps to be aware and learn to decipher between those simply exploiting the trend for profit, and the ones who pursue an honest and impactful mission.

5. Treat food as medicine - our diets have a lot to do with our physical and mental health. Learning to cook can help us spend less on food and produce greater quantities, and to eat healthier. Don’t over-eat and indulge in stress eating, develop a healthy routine. Avoid foods that are overly processed, seek out more whole fruits and vegetables, and locally sourced meats or dairy if possible. However, this can be a matter of privilege and available choices in one’s local environment. But that’s why it’s important to help the world develop to a point where nobody is starving and suffering.

 What have you got planned for the future?

Austin: I plan to keep building this platform and taking it to the next level. I plan to do whatever I can with what I have to benefit more people - as far as that may go. I believe we are on course to becoming a central hub for global sustainability.

Interested in finding out more about Striver or joining in the Sustainable Living debate on Facebook then go ahead and get involved today! Or if you are a business and would like more information on advertising view Striver’s recent YouTube video commercial.

Making sustainable shopping and lifestyle choices is getting easier and easier as an increasing number of brands are doing more than ever before. You can read more about Plus, earlier this month we launched our Green Icon so you can immediately see what products are green making it easier to shop sustainably on our website using our sustainble voucher codes and sustainble shopping deals.

More blogs from Miranda:

Celebrating the Tokyo Olympics

Women's Sustainable Fashion Styles for Summer

5 Running Tips to Improve Performance

6 Practical Gifts for Father's Day 2021

Happy Vegetarian Week 

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