Anne Therese Bengtsson: “I believe that every person has the power to make a difference”
We’ve asked some of our favorite people to answer 10 questions about style and sustainability. This time, we pick the brain of Anne Therese Bengtsson, a New York based model, podcast host, sustainability activist, and founder of Role Models Management.
What’s your shopping philosophy?
– My shopping philosophy has changed dramatically over the past seven years or so. I used to be something of a shopaholic and a hoarder, and was very emotionally attached to things. I wanted to have a trillion options in my closet and a home filled with everything you could possibly desire. I was, in other words, enslaved by the idea of fast fashion and “happy” consumerism. Little did I know that I had gotten it all wrong – that shopping doesn’t make you happy at all – and it wasn’t until I had to pack up my life in boxes and move countries that I started realizing the value in having less.
– I’m not saying I never shop, but when I do, I do it consciously. I buy things when I truly need them and I make sure to spend my money wisely by looking for vintage, our seeking out clothes that are thoughtfully and sustainably made.
Do you have any favorite eco-friendly, ethical or sustainable fashion brands?
– This is going to sound boring, but I’m still to explore that world. So far, my sustainable fashion behavior is more a means of using my old wardrobe and finding vintage gems than buying something new. But, I know there are A LOT of brands out there, and I can name-drop a few epic online stores to go look for them: Rêve-En-Verte, IMBY, ODMODC, and Modavanti – to name a few…
In what ways are you trying to make greener choices in your everyday life?
– I believe that every person has the power to make a difference. No one is perfect and though a tiny “good deed” can feel silly and insignificant at times, it’s not! So what I do to help out on my end is to consciously think about how I can make my own footprint smaller. I bring my water bottle around for when I’m thirsty, I carry a napkin with a fork in my bag in case I order something out, and if I don’t have a sustainable take-away mug close-by when I feel like a coffee, I really stop and ask myself “are you sure you want that coffee – is it really worth it?” and 99 times out of 100 the answer is no.
What’s your latest realization when it comes to matters of sustainability?
– Two things, actually. One: That the fight between sustainability and veganism is hard. Sometimes it can turn out that vegan leather is really bad for the environment, and that real fur and leather is actually a more sustainable option. There is no black or white, so don’t pick a side and then never ask the question again. Keep being curious and bring awareness to every situation. You can be both cruelty-free and sustainable but it sometimes requires digging into the grey-zones.
– Two: Only 9 % or so of all plastic gets recycled! And that’s not because people don’t recycle, but because the plastic simple isn’t recyclable. Apparently the 100% biodegradable plastic isn’t as see-through and “pretty” as the conventional plastic, so beverage companies for example are afraid they will drop in sales if they start using it. I mean, come on – what world do we live in?!
What’s your relationship to second hand and vintage fashion?
– Love, love, love! In fact, I think everything I’ve got this past year has been vintage or hand-me-downs from friends. I mean, what’s not to like? It’s cheap and unique, and you’re using what’s already there – how much more sustainable can you get?
How do you hope the fashion industry is going to change for the future?
– I know the fashion industry has already started going from linear to circular, meaning that they recycle and repurpose old materials instead of producing new ones. G-Star has an up-cycled line, Adidas is making shoes out of recalled ocean plastic and H&M has a goal of being 100 % sustainable by 2040! Calculations are showing that a sustainable way of producing fabric is actually a great investment since it will cut down huge costs in the long run, so there’s literally nothing to loose.
– And I want us consumers to show the brands that we like this! Buy their conscious collections, and head over to their websites and search “sustainable” to find out what they have (even if you don’t buy anything, their search engines will show that the demand for sustainable has gone up). Companies look at numbers and from those numbers they plan productions ahead. If we all work together on this, we can see ourselves in a much happier fashion future!
How do you make the contents of your wardrobe last?
– Haha! I’m laughing because this is something I need to get better at. I’ve always been lazy when it comes to taking care of my stuff, and my mom and dad have sometimes gone crazy over it. But, I would say that I’ve gotten much better at buying things that I know I will use a lot, and therefore make sure it’s also something that will last.
What are your biggest worries when it comes to the environment?
– That people are too afraid to see. I think we all know deep down that we have to wake up and take a look at our own lives and what we can do to make things better. We’re not talking about future generations anymore; we’re talking about now! Unfortunately it’s very easy to point fingers and say “but look at them, why should I do something when they’re not doing shit?” Well, if we all keep thinking that way, we won’t go far, will we? Besides, you’ll soon realize that making conscious decisions and taking care of both this planet and yourself is incredibly rewarding and fun!
Do you have a favorite natural or organic beauty product?
– Yes, coconut oil. I’m telling you, it’s the only thing I use and it works wonders. I use it as a make-up remover, night cream, moisturizer, lip balm – you name it. When I got toasted on the beach earlier this summer (not my intention) I freaked out, and the following days I covered my body in coconut oil. I may have smelled like a coconut, but it sure did help. My skin healed and I barely pealed at all.
What’s your recipe for a healthy, happy life?
1. Learn to love yourself
2. Learn to forgive
3. Try to understand and picture yourself in other people’s shoes
4. Be good and try your best in everything you do
5. Forgive yourself and see life as filled with lessons and learning’s
6. Smile and have fun
Pics borrowed from @annetheresebengtsson
Editor’s Pick: The Ever-Present Little Black Dress
Timeless, classic and never out of style – we’ve selected 10 black dresses from our favorite conscious collections.
Brand to Watch: Instructions +
Paris-based brand Instructions + wants to encourage conscious consumption and contribute to fashion in a responsible and eco-friendly way.
Editor’s Pick: Fall’s 11 Best Linen Pieces
Among the plant-based textiles, linen ranks really high on our list. Here’s 11 responsibly made pieces to complete the early fall wardrobe.
Brand to Watch: By Far
By Far’s handcrafted shoe collection is in part made from deadstock Italian luxury leathers and produced in a small, family-owned factory in Bulgaria.