Leading an eco revolution
By Laura Madden
Lifestyle entrepreneur and sustainability expert Marci Zaroff is rewriting the rules of what it means to live an organic lifestyle. Once reserved for those who could afford it, Zaroff is making eco-friendly shopping for the home accessible and affordable to the masses with her organic home line on home shopping channel QVC. You may recognize Zaroff from previous Green Living issues (and covers), or maybe by the fact that she coined the term”‘eco-fashion,” or maybe that she has been referred to as the Martha Stewart of eco-friendly living. Zaroff is changing the game of all things organic.
Over the course of her lengthy career, Zaroff has confronted sustainability on all fronts—food, fashion, beauty—and now with her organic home line Farm to Home (FTH), exclusive to QVC. FTH is “a lifestyle brand that democratizes organic textile products by giving today’s consumer what they love and seek while making a difference to human and environmental health, farmer and worker welfare and future generations.” Products include items such as bathrobes, bedding and towels.
She has said that the state of our planet requires “all hands on deck.”
This woman walks her talk and she’s making it easier for us to join the movement as she brings yet another eco-friendly line to the masses in a truly affordable and accessible way.
Home shopping channels are not the place people traditionally think to go for environmentally friendly anything, but once again Zaroff is an expert at challenging stigmas.
Why partner with QVC?
Products that are beautiful and better for you should not be exclusive to people with deeper pockets. This brand is a major opportunity to co-create with QVC, and the goal is to continue to expand beyond the fashion basics. We started with the core home collection. Six categories—sheets, towels, robes, decorative pillows, comforters and throws.
How have you succeeded in bringing an organic product to the masses at such an affordable price and at scale?
We are vertically integrated from farm to home literally—which is why the name is so powerful. I am working from the source, from the cotton all the way to the finished product, cutting out all the brokers and middle men and working directly with my farmers and factories. We create incredible efficiencies in the supply chain. To work so closely with QVC to collaborate to make sure we are bringing forward the best product with the best price, with values and value. The mission is affordable, authentic, accessible.
Transparency is a really hot topic today. You’ve said that transparency has been in the DNA of everything you’ve done in your whole career and it’s how you’ve built all your former businesses. How are you able to accomplish that?
I’ve built other companies in this space, and I have long-standing relationships with factories where I’ve produced large volume programs for companies like Macy’s, Target, and Bed Bath & Beyond.
I have a team that works for me full-time on the ground in India. They oversee all of product development and work closely with our factories, do all the inspections and quality control. I know the factories that share my core values, who make the best product, and who have the commitment to grow with me.
For the person at home who is just learning about the toxicity of conventionally grown cotton, why should someone choose organic? How serious is it to buy conventional vs. organic cotton?
I am a major advocate for organic cotton, for the human component and the climate change component. Typical bed sheets are made of conventional cotton and/or polyester. Cotton is the most heavily sprayed industry in agriculture. In India, cotton is the only crop allowed to be grown with GMO seeds, which comes with their own toxic cocktail of GMO chemicals.
You’ve got a lot of chemicals in the growing and sowing of the cotton itself. Then the cotton is bleached, cleaned, and in the finishing and dying process other toxic chemicals are used, as well.
In a typical cotton bed sheet you have all the GMO pesticides, chemicals and fertilizers used in growing, chlorine bleach, heavy metals, formaldehyde, acetone, optical brighteners in the dyes—all these harsh chemicals that are added in the process. And, flame retardants and anti-wrinklers…they’re all just toxic chemicals.
When you start pulling the curtain back on the human and environmental impacts of cotton, it is not as natural as we’ve been led to believe.
There’s also the climate change impact to choosing conventional cotton over organic and how it is directly affecting our soil. You’ve said that soil is the skin of the Earth and that soil is our greatest solution to climate change.
The soil itself has been so depleted using all these chemicals. This is the same thing with why agriculture is becoming so important to consumers on the food side. The plants themselves are no longer as strong and vibrant.
Soil is meant to be a sink or sponge for carbon. When soil isn’t healthy, it no longer absorbs carbon out of the atmosphere, but reflects it back. When soil is healthy, it literally sucks carbon from the atmosphere.
As you rebuild soil through organic methodologies, you can measure the amount of carbon absorbed in the soil. Farmers need healthy soil so that their crops can even grow.
Zaroff stresses the importance of choosing organic and she leads by example with her products. For more, visit www.marcizaroff.com.
(Want to read more about the importance of regenerating our soil and the correlation between soil and climate change? Visit www.organic-center.org.)
Laura Madden is an advocate for fashion, art, and sustainability through her work as an influencer, stylist, writer, model and artist. She reports on the intersection of style, sustainability and self-esteem on both her blog, the ReFashion Report, and various conscious lifestyle publications. Madden also serves as a global ambassador for non-profit Remake, is a board member with San Francisco Fashion Community Week, and is the founder of ReFashioned Art, her brand of upcycled art. For more sustainable style, art and shopping tips, check out www.iamlauramadden.com and follow her on instagram @iamlauramadden and @reFashionedArt.