An eco activist, vegan and nontoxic beauty betty, Erica Leibner helps the forward-thinking small businesses she loves get noticed online. While their niches vary from eco clothes to natural beauty products, her clients all have one thing in common: they see cost as more than a dollar value, refuse to compromise on quality and are truly sustainable.
I’ve been following her for a while on social media and have always been curious about the innovative service-based business she’s built. So when we started chatting recently on Twitter, I jumped at the chance to interview her.
Here it is! Hope you enjoy…
How did you get into writing for eco-friendly businesses?
In 2010 I started writing for a blog called City Bandit, aimed at helping girls in Montreal and Toronto stay chic on the cheap. I was given carte blanche to cover whatever I wanted. Naturally, I gravitated to the types of things I was most interested in – vegan brunch spots, eco street fairs, and easy-to-execute upcycling ideas. I ended up getting approached by the owner of one of the small businesses I reviewed. She said my piece captured the essence of her shop; she loved my writing and wanted to hire me to help with their communications. That spurred my “aha moment” – that by transitioning into business writing, I could empower outstanding small businesses whose products rocked but whose marketing communications weren’t so stellar. I promptly got a certificate from U of T in PR, started building my website and reaching out to potential clients. I’ve been loving every minute of it and haven’t looked back since.
Did you grow up eco-friendly or became it overtime?
I always had an innate understanding that as a society, we were doing things wrong – like producing too much garbage and mistreating animals. I created a petition to get recycling bins in my neighbourhood. I became vegetarian at the age of seven after making the connection between meat and the death of sentient animals. The more I learnt, the worse I realized things were. In order to better be the change I wished to see, I eventually became vegan, rid my home of toxic products and got more involved with organizations like PETA and DSF (David Suzuki Foundation).
It’s a pleasure and an honour. The people I work with are so deeply kind and committed to making the world a better place for future generations. Dihan Chandra (owner of Organic Lifestyle), Ingrid Doucet (owner of Clementine Fields), Jenise Lee (founder of Clean Care), Hilda Hugo (owner of LNBF) … these are people who have left a permanent mark on me. Which is why I give them my all; work diligently so that their vision, mission and voice shine through to attract current customers like you and I.
Erica munching on earth-friendly grub at RiseTO’s Organic Tapas Market Dinner this past June.
What’s the worst case of greenwashing you’ve ever seen?
The one that comes to mind is the Fur Council of Canada. They recently came out with a campaign “Fur is green,” describing it as the ultimate eco clothing. Fur as eco-friendly!? That couldn’t be further from the truth. A few of the many reasons why: it takes well over 20 times as much energy to produce a fur coat from ranch-raised animals than it does to produce one made of fake fur. Pelts are “tanned” so they don’t biodegrade, an unnatural process that requires the use of carcinogenic chemicals and toxins including ammonia, cyanide-based dyes and formaldehyde. The waste produced on fur farms also poisons our waterways.
What is your current favourite product?
Leaves of Trees, Cream Deodorant. It works super well, doesn’t get on my clothes, is completely natural and made right here in Toronto.
What product would you never, ever use and why?
I’d never (ever) use an antiperspirant, especially after reading Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith’s Toxin/Toxout. I’ve come to understand that sweating is an important function that helps the body rid itself of the harmful pollutants we’re exposed to on a daily basis. Simply put, the more you sweat, the more yucky chemicals you expel!
Thanks so much to Erica for the enlightening interview! You can learn more about Erica on her website below, or follow her via her social media links.