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Meet a San Francisco Eco-Expert

Zem Joaquin is paving the way for stylish, sustainable living and is dedicated to solving problems with positive solutions

For San Francisco–based eco-renegade and entrepreneur Zem Joaquin, there’s no “typical” day. But she does have a set morning routine. “I drink copious amounts of organic green tea, work out, and then begin running around,” says Joaquin. The Palo Alto native majored in organizational communication while at Pepperdine University and subsequently embarked on a career in environmental design and communication after becoming inspired by her own children’s physical ailments (including asthma) and chemical sensitivities.

In 2006, she gave a TED Talk that caught the attention of Arianna Huffington and Linda Stone, who initially convinced her to launch a blog. Shortly after, she debuted Ecofabulous.com, a style and sustainability blog she conceived and then spearheaded for 10 years. “Seeing how using non-VOC paints and formaldehyde-free furniture improved the air quality of my house drove me to share that information with other families,” says Joaquin. “It wasn’t intended to be a business. I just wanted to make sure that other people had resources that I found very difficult to source. I loved researching products, featuring new brands with passionate founders, and bringing it all to life in tiny houses that I designed for Dwell on Design and the Gorgeous & Green Gala [an eco-fashion show] that I hosted for Global Green for 10 years. All I ever wanted was a wider audience so that sustainable design could go more mainstream and we really could see some positive movement.”

In 2014, Joaquin sold Ecofabulous to The Huffington Post (and became HuffPo’s editor-at-large of Home and Lifestyle) and launched her newest venture, Near Future Summit, a strategic community of entrepreneurs, activists, and investors. “I started it because I felt like my greatest value is connecting siloed concepts and people,” says Joaquin. “My mission is to bring passionate doers together to scale solutions. There is a lot of focus on problems. I wanted to focus on the solutions. The most rewarding thing is when I see individuals and companies collaborating in a world-positive way.”

Joaquin, now gearing up to launch a podcast and video series with Dwell magazine, is equally enthusiastic about eco-education and promoting a healthy lifestyle. Her top three easy tips? “Eat less meat,” she says. “Try a Beyond Burger. I know it’s obvious, but it is the easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint and your waistline. Second, go organic. Organic food, skincare, and goods can be delivered right to your door, and companies like Good Eggs and Brandless are making it easier and more affordable. And finally, make sure your wood-derived products are recycled or FSC certified.”