Sustaining the Future

Student launches Sustain, eco-centered publication

Erin Bola, Social Media Manager

It’s not easy being green. Organic food is often expensive, and it can be hard to reduce waste in our increasingly materialistic society. So how can the average millennial live a sustainable lifestyle while juggling a tight budget and a busy schedule?

A desire to make sustainability more easily accessible is what inspired St. John’s senior Reza Moreno to establish “Sustain The Mag.” Moreno, who is a former features editor at the Torch, says she modeled the new digital publication to be a “Refinery29 for eco-conscious warriors.”

“We’re not experts on sustainability. But that’s the whole point — we want to make it seem like we are on this journey with you. We are all learning together,” Moreno said.

The journalism major’s vision for Sustain emerged last May, when she realized that the topic of sustainability was mainly being covered for older generations and not for younger people like herself.

“When you think of [sustainability], you think of middle-aged moms that do yoga and drink smoothies,” She said. “Yeah, that’s sustainability, but what about the low-income community and kids at school that don’t have access to that lifestyle?”

Top left to right: Kate Puthota, Fiona Palmer, Alyssa Ford. Bottom left to right: Carissa Herb, Reza Moreno.

Along with co-founder Carissa Herb, Moreno began to assemble ideas for Sustain. After a logo was created, she posted an Instagram story asking for any potentially interested writers.

A majority of the writers who now contribute to Sustain are St. John’s students or alumni, although Moreno was also able to recruit staff from places such as California and London.

Writer Alyssa Ford, a senior communication arts and sociology major at St. John’s, says she wanted to work with Sustain because of its unique mission and the impact that it can have in today’s society.

“Especially because of the political climate we currently find ourselves in, a lot of us are lost on how we can make a difference,” Ford said. “I’m happy that I get to make an impact and educate others through my writing.”

Moreno credits her previous experience in blogging for giving her the appropriate resources to create content for the magazine. “Photographers, videographers, I already had all of that — but to run a media site, it was all a learning process,” she said.

Sustain officially launched last month with a video collaboration with Los Angeles-based Sloane & Tate, a sustainable lingerie brand.

“That was my vision, and I’m just so happy with how it came out,” Moreno said. “It is actually what I’m the most proud of, since it was the best way to launch our website with a storytelling video.”

From left to right: Alexis Gaskin, Sam Baselice, Nora Mitchell, Bridgette Rohl.

The magazine focuses on a variety of sustainability topics, such as style, food and wellness.

Currently published pieces include features on eco-friendly restaurants and businesses in New York City and guides on uncommon ways to easily reduce, reuse and recycle.

One story in particular that Moreno said stood out is on sustainably-sourced tampons, which are made from 100% organic cotton. “The writer made her own graphic, and it’s our most-clicked article, actually,” she said.

Sustain has also published features on other digital publishers, including activist and fashion blogger Hoda Katebi.

Moreno expressed a desire to collaborate with other influential figures in the sustainability movement in the future.

“I would love to work Lauren Singer from the Package Free Shop in Brooklyn,” she said. “There are some nonprofits that I would love to work with, like Adrian Grenier’s Lonely Whale.”

While the sustainability movement has been growing rapidly among young people and in urban centers, there is still work to be done when it comes to protecting the environment on a national level.

So what does the future hold for Sustain? Moreno hopes to transform the magazine into a full-time career following her college graduation.

“I want it to be an empire,” she said. “I do really want to see it printed one day, but in an eco-friendly way. I have a lot more ideas to come, but those won’t be discussed until the future.”

Moreno isn’t the only one who wants to see Sustain grow in the near future.

“I already have PR people emailing us, I’ve had writers and a potential intern message me,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of people at St. John’s come up to me and say, ‘I really love what you’re doing, it makes me want to get more into sustainability.’”

The team at Sustain have a lot to teach the world about sustainability, and they’re ready to spread the word.

Ford hopes that readers will see just how easy it can be to be environmentally conscious in their daily lives.

“I want our readers to learn that sustainability begins with steps like being mindful of the companies you support and reducing your use of toxic things for the environment like plastic,” Ford said. “If everyone takes these small steps, we will be that much closer to a sustainable future.”