My Sustainability Journey

There’s nothing like finding out that you have a debilitating rare illness to stop you in your tracks. Over twenty years ago, I was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease characterized by the formation of granulomas—tiny clumps of inflammatory cells—in one or more organs of the body. When the immune system goes into overdrive and too many of these clumps form, they can interfere with an organ’s structure and function.This disorder affects the lungs in approximately 90% of cases, but it can affect almost any organ in the body or multiple organs or multisystemic. I’m multisystemic. Since my diagnosis, I have been struggling with fatigue, joint pain, thyroid issues, floaters in my eyes, chronic sinusitis, issues with my kidneys and a seasonal ear infection which causes me to temporarily lose my hearing in one ear. For so many years, I just lived with it. I didn’t think that there was anything I could do.

At the same time, I needed an escape from my very analytically-charged technology career. I’m a creative who needed a creative outlet. So I launched my very successful fashion blog, The Capitol Fashionista (I was working on Capitol Hill at the time). That blog morphed into the digital fashion magazine, Façon Magazine. Façon focused on spotlighting emerging fashion/beauty brands and quickly becoming a local favorite among the DC fashion community. It felt good to support up-and-coming designers. In 2015, I was surfing my social media crack of choice – Twitter when I noticed that Fashion Revolution was tweeting about this documentary, The True Cost and urged its followers to watch it. So I watched it. I mean, I had a vague idea about what was going on after the 2010 Bangladeshi fire where the Gap was outed. I had no idea that the problems are ongoing, systemic, and brutal. I cried through the entire documentary (I still cry whenever I watch it). I immediately felt like I was part of the problem instead of part of the solution. I cried myself to sleep vowing to close my magazine. The next morning I had an epiphany. I decided to keep the magazine going and change our focus to sustainable and ethical fashion.

My transformation was just beginning. While downsizing from a four-bedroom house (where I had lived with my now grown kids for twenty years) to a two-bedroom apartment, I discovered how much crap we had and how many things we were not using. Almost everything had to go.
I had to make some hard and fast decisions. It was overwhelming and took months to figure it all out. Sigh. At the end of the process, I wished that I had someone to help me figure the whole thing out. So I started building my sustainability knowledge. It helped me to connect the dots between my delicate health, the way I was living, what I was eating and what I was wearing on my body and skin. Downsizing gave me the opportunity to build a more sustainable life. I started to take stock in what I was eating. I based my meals on the Norwegian Sarcoidosis Diet (Norwegians, only second to African Americans, suffer with Sarcoidosis more than any other group). I cut way back on my alcohol consumption (I have a drink a few times a year). I am careful about the products I use on my skin. I love every single thing in my current closet and I only shop secondhand. In my apartment, I created a stylish, beautiful space surrounded by my favorite pieces. It was an eye-opening journey.

I realized that I wasn’t the only one who wanted to get a grip on the crap and clutter in their lives, especially after COVID-19 forced us to drastically change our lives. So I launched eat. wear. nest. Eat. Wear. Nest. is a sustainable/ethical lifestyle brand and design studio helping likeminded people to build a life surrounded by the things that they love the most while ditching the clutter and chaos in their closets and more importantly, in their homes.To support the local sustainable community, I co-founded the DC Sustainable Fashion Collective (DCSFC). DCSFC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on creating a sustainable and ethical fashion community in the DC metropolitan area through educational programming, networking events, retail opportunities, and advocacy.


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Janice W.

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