Honoring Earth Day with Model Citizen Julia Cordova
Model turned activist Julia Cordova embodies environmentalism in every way possible: She's vegan, shops primarily second-hand, and just launched a non-profit, Seditionary Conduct Club, devoted to protecting our planet and the creatures it houses. We spoke with Julia about her dedicated lifestyle, her new collective, and the endless ways she works to preserve and honor our planet.
Kate Marin: For those unfamiliar, who are you and what do you do?
Julia Cordova: I’m Julia! I’m a model and an environmentalist.
KM: You’ve been vegan for 3 years. What appealed to you most about this lifestyle? Was it about combating animal cruelty or sustainability or both?
JC: Funny enough, it was never really appealing to me at first. It stemmed from a random conversation I had with a roommate in a model apartment a couple years ago. Something she said stuck with me, and I stayed up that whole night watching videos and crying and the next morning I was vegan. So it was definitely an ethical decision for me at first. And from there I kept discovering more and more reasons to stay vegan.
One of the best things about veganism is that it’s one of the few ways that we as individual people have the power to create massive change. We don’t have to call up our representatives or badger politicians for changes to be made. We can make changes with our dollar and what we choose to support with it. A vegan meal in itself is an act of protest.
KM: What changed when you became vegan?
JC: I felt lighter. Physically and emotionally. I had heard about what was going on in factory farms and it didn’t sit right with me but I didn’t understand how far down the rabbit-hole went (no pun intended), so I chose to ignore it, which I think a lot of people do. But there’s something really profound that you feel when you face it full on and start to live in alignment with your values. I just felt better in general because I knew I was doing something really good.
KM: How have you translated veganism into other sustainable practices in your life?
JC: After learning that animal agriculture is the leading cause of basically every environmental issue (i.e. greenhouse gases, methane and Co2 emissions, deforestation, ocean dead zones, species extinction, water depletion, etc.), I was made aware of a multitude of other problems that no one ever sees or has to experience. In this way, none of us have had to be held accountable for our actions. But once I knew the severity of the situation, I couldn’t feel the same way about eating a burger, buying single-use plastic water bottles or wearing the fur of an animal. So, I almost don’t even have a choice but to consider all of my actions carefully and live as sustainably as possible. Most importantly, these problems offer an abundance of solutions I knew I had to embrace. Omitting animal products from my diet was only the beginning.
KM: Have your California roots had any specific impact on your interest in sustainability?
JC: Definitely. I grew up minutes from the most beautiful beaches so I have a sweet spot for the ocean. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of photos of oceans completely littered with plastic and animals mutilated from being caught in it or eating it. By 2030, it is estimated that there will be more plastic in the ocean, by weight, than fish. It’s completely heartbreaking. There are even plastic particles in the seafood people are eating. But I’m grateful to have grown up in California because it fueled my passion for the health of our oceans and the environment as a whole.
KM: What is the main problem with how veganism and sustainability are currently perceived?
JC: First of all, I don’t think most people are even aware of the situation, which is really scary. We’re kept in the dark on a lot of things. Landfills are way out of our sight. Animal agriculture industries fund (and thus greatly influence) medical and nutritional research. Big Ag is in bed with Big Pharma. Celebrities have endorsement agreements with fast food companies and glamorize not only eating but wearing animals. The President of the United States denies climate change!! There’s a huge disconnect.
KM: Tell us about your new non-profit, Seditionary Conduct Club.
JC: Seditionary Conduct Club is an organization centered around sustainability. Sedition refers to rebellion and going against the status quo. It’s about understanding the power behind our choices as consumers and challenging the orthodoxy of the corporate agenda. SCC will embrace the window of opportunity to shed light on the severity of our activities and the impact they have on our future before it’s too late, and at the same time offer realistic ways to fill the gap between what is actually happening and what needs to happen.
KM: What is your goal for the company and what do you have planned?
JC: I want to talk about sustainability in a new way, and in doing so, change the way people think about it. I want to start an honest conversation about who we are in relation to the planet by promoting viable ways to take action and take a pragmatic approach to help people transition to a more sustainable way of life. My goal is to create an organization that offers practical ways to achieve low waste and cruelty-free living as a springboard to sustainability. Our first and real task is to fight over-consumption by taking part in creating community responsibility in order to drive industrial responsibility.
There are going to be some really cool events in NY and LA coming up soon that will be announced through instagram and the website (coming soon) so look out for those. The Club will also be providing a lot of information and resources for us to start taking action right away.
KM: What is the best way to become a part of Seditionary Conduct Club and stay up to date on events you have planned?
JC: Our instagram! We just launched it - @seditionaryconductclub
KM: Fashion is one of the most environmentally-harmful industries. What advice can you offer to someone hoping to become a more sustainable shopper?
JC: Don’t distance yourself from the problem. Understand that we, as consumers, are the ones driving these industries, and most importantly, that we have the power to change things. The True Cost is a really eye-opening documentary. My biggest advice is to shop second hand!!
KM: Do you think that fashion can ever be truly sustainable?
JC: I do think that fashion can be sustainable. It really all depends on the consumer. We have a long way to go to turn things around and make fashion more sustainable, but change is always possible. We just have to want it.
KM: Where do you shop and who are your favorite environmentally-conscious designers?
JC: I mainly shop second-hand. There are so many great consignment and vintage stores in NYC so that makes it really easy. And, of course, Heroine is the best. I’m on here every day!