“I can’t think of a better way to commit to a sustainable way of living, than by educating our children,” says Alana Sorokin, founder of eco-friendly fashion brand, Joseph & Alexander, as she explains that we all have a responsibility in playing a part in educating and inspiring the next generation.
As the owner of an environmentally conscious label, the Australian-born mother of two launched Joseph & Alexander not only to create a unique line of swimwear and lifestyle apparel, but to champion an educational conversation around environmental issues. Here, the 35-year-old entrepreneur shares her top tips…
What does sustainability mean to you?
Mother Earth has blessed us with lush vegetation, beautiful animals, mesmerising landscapes and vast oceans, but the use of harmful gases, deforestation, the consumption of meat, and the production of fashion, beauty and household items (to give just a few examples) is destroying our natural resources and jeopardising our ecosystem. Sustainability means putting nature into consideration when it comes to choices on how we build, produce materials, breed animals and dispose of waste.
We need to start making more and more ethical lifestyle choices that may not be convenient, but are beneficial to the environment. We all have a role to play and knowledge and awareness is key.
How can we teach children to live a more sustainable life?
In the quest for a sustainable life, children must remain at the centre of our environmentally friendly goals. It’s up to us to educate them both at home and at school. Knowledge about the importance of conserving resources and living an eco-conscious lifestyle can be instilled from a very young age. There are many creative ways parents can introduce greener living to children, from simple steps such as eating local organic produce, to creating ways to reuse leftover food. Parents can also educate the little ones on proper waste disposal methods, how to shop for eco-friendly products and how to say no to single-use plastic.
What initiatives can parents get children involved with?
A recycling program. My kids love being given responsibilities and special tasks. Teach them to be enthusiastic about recycling by making it their job to collect and sort recyclable household waste each week.
For energy saving, you could ask your children to be the supervisor of ensuring lights, fans and other appliances are switched off when not in use. The same goes for switching off taps while brushing teeth to save precious water.
Teach them about learning where food and clothing comes from, and you could even start a swap group with their school friend’s mothers to trade outgrown clothes and toys.
You may want to reward them for their efforts with a star chart, which can earn them a treat.
Tell us about your brand, Joseph & Alexander?
Having been an ambassador for a sustainable way of living for most of my life, I really felt passionate about creating a brand which made a true difference, and one that had a positive impact on the environment. I spent a lot of my childhood at beaches and swimming in the ocean, and after researching the devastating effects plastic has on our seas — sadly, eight million tonnes of plastic waste spills into our oceans every year — I set out to bring awareness to tackling this major issue, launching Joseph & Alexander (named after my two sons), in November 2018.
Our garments are made from fabric that is created from plastic waste found floating in the world’s oceans. We also use eco-friendly ink and reusable packaging. Aside from being made from recycled plastic, our pieces are created to be fully saltwater and chlorine resistant, which means that they won’t fade or become damaged. They also come with UPF 45+ which helps protect skin from the sun.
Tell us the story behind one of the printed designs?
Each collection depicts awareness-raising narratives of minimising our environmental footprint. Our prints tell a story that children can be a part of, whether it ignites a story in their imagination or motivates them to seek more information on an interesting topic.
Our ‘Trapped’ shorts feature drawings of marine life such as dolphins and sharks behind netting to start a discussion about fishing and discarded plastic nets. Did you know that a whopping 44 per cent of all seabird species, 22 per cent of cetaceans, all sea turtles and a growing list of fish species have been documented with plastic in or around their bodies?
How can other brands or influential role models play a part in producing environmentally friendly products, or spreading the message?
Coming second to the motor industry, the fashion industry is one of the biggest environmental polluters in the world, but I’m glad to see giant strides are being made to produce sustainable goods in recent years. It’s great to see designer labels introduce sustainable and eco-friendly collections. Ralph Lauren’s latest polo shirt collection, #TheEarthPolo is made entirely from recycled plastic bottles, and Prada has just launched a new collection of handbags titled, Re-Nylon — a project using recycled textile and plastic waste. It’s amazing to watch big brands making a positive change.
For a long time, the challenge of halting the harmful activities of man against the environment has mainly been tasked by relatively small groups, but we need to take collective action to significantly alleviate the threat to the environment. Thankfully, many influential celebrities, royals and social media stars are becoming sustainability ambassadors, using their platforms and huge followings to spread awareness and set up new rules. Introduce your children to stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Gwyneth Paltrow, who continue to make headlines for their contribution to saving the planet.
What’s next for Joseph & Alexander?
Our focus for the next year is partnering with like-minded sustainable corporate brands that share the same ethos as us. We believe that through these partnerships we will be able to champion a revolution towards a safe and sustainable environment.
I’m thrilled to reveal that we recently collaborated with Emirates Airlines, who share our vision for a clean and green world. We created an environmentally conscious collection of father and son shorts, called, Emirates Landing. As with all of our collections, the shorts tell a story, encouraging an educational conversation between adult and child around sustainable practices. It was the perfect partnership for us as the airline is a leader in terms of recycling and prevention of waste. Like us, they use fabric created from recycled plastic. The blankets used in their economy class cabins on long-haul flights are each made from 28 recycled plastic bottles — don’t forget to mention that fact to your children the next time you fly. There is always an opportunity to educate.
Joseph & Alexander X Emirates Airline