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Eco-Hero: Sara Moffat

April 2010

By Rachel Kaye, New York

Sara Moffat is co-owner/designer of Jackson, Johnston and Roe, a ready-to-wear ladies and gents clothing company based out of Brooklyn, NY. Thinking more about designs that can sustain multiple seasons versus throw away fashion, Sara and her partners have created silhouettes that are charming and timeless since 2005. This past spring she launched her own handbag collection, Augustus Luggage Company. Sara’s handbags are equally sophisticated and utilitarian, proving leather and canvas are all you need to make the perfect purse. Sara likes to support local artisans and crafts people and avoids purchasing imported goods. Beyond her design skills, Moffat is a trailblazer for sustainable living and has done so since she was a child.

Rachel: How did your childhood influence the way you think about your diet? Was sustainability and seasonal cooking part of your diet in your youth?

Sara: I was born in Boulder and grew up eating delicious, seasonal food from the garden. It was before organic certification, but as all the consciousness around food nutrition became public, we were right on board. Another pivotal moment was when my family moved to a commune nestled in the Rockies of Colorado. There was a big farm where we worked in trade for housing. All the food was organic and we raised and ate animals from the farm. It was a completely sustainable way of life and taught me a lot about respect and appreciation for food.

Rachel: Where do you buy your groceries?

Sara: I buy fruits, vegetables, eggs and honey from the Farmers' Market, and the rest I buy at The Garden in Greenpoint. It is a tiny health food store that reminds me of my childhood. I also shop at Marlow and Daughters for the best local, organic meats.

Rachel: What food products can you not live with out?

Sara: Kay Sera's "Zippy Bee" home-farmed wildflower honey from Upstate NY, Mast Brothers Chocolate from Brooklyn, Organic Valley half and half and Ronnybrook Yogurt.

Rachel: Being a designer who uses organic materials, natural dyes and has JJR's designs made in the USA, how does this affect your own day-to-day purchases?

Sara: I won't buy things made in China. It's incredibly hard to do, but I feel very strongly about not supporting their apparel industry, among other things. I also avoid plastic anything if I can. I love finding out where something is made, and would rather buy small local brands.

Rachel: Are their materials/fabrics you've learned about since designing that you feel are neglected in the fashion industry?

Sara: Luckily, we are in a time that organic and sustainable fabric is easier to find and use. We just found a US based organic cotton canvas company that is easy to buy from and inexpensive!! We use "peace silks" from India. They are silks made from worms that are not harmed or killed in the extraction process. The silk is sent to a woman in Oregon who uses natural and indigenous methods to dye the silk, indigo, turmeric, etc.

Rachel: I remember last spring you opted to use wind power for your apartment, can you tell me how this came about?

Sara: I was at the Farmers Market in Union Square and there was a booth set up for wind power. I spoke to the guy about it and signed up immediately.

Rachel: What "green" cleaning products do you use?

Sara: I love Seventh Generation dish soap and laundry detergent. And this new product GrabGreen all-purpose cleaner smells like thyme and fig leaf and is non-toxic, biodegradable, and eco-friendly.

Rachel: What books, documentaries or lectures have inspired you in living a more sustainable life?

Sara: I love all of Alice Waters and Patty Curtan's cookbooks. I love listening to TED lectures. There is also this great book called "Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster" by Dana Thomas, which talks about how luxury brands of clothing are all out to make profit now and sell a facade, where they used to offer tradition, superior quality and a pampered buying experience.

Rachel: Are there places you've traveled that have left you inspired to live a more sustainable life?

Sara: I just returned from France where I was able to travel from Paris to Provence, and although the big chains like Starbucks and IKEA, are forcing their way in, I was pleasantly surprised by all the locally made products. It was so nice to buy Savon de Marseille soap from Marseilles! Also small, energy efficient cars and washer/dryers! And then of course they take such pride in cheeses and wines and meats from their regions, so you can get unique and delicious local fare wherever you go. I think we need to get back to that!!!

New York

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