Updated: Mar 31
I first came across Anina’s Instagram in 2016. Back then, I was one of her few followers, attracted by the phenomena she is. I saw her blog and page grow, and always felt she stayed true to herself and the cause.
Back then and still now, Anina`s work and shares are a daily down to earth inspirations. Through her work, she has become what I consider an activist and voice in the fight to shed light on a number of diverse topics that fall under the umbrella of conscious and sustainable living.
The best was yet to come this year. With her new book “ekkoist”, she has shifted the summoned up the conversations we have in and around Zurich regarding knowledge and availability of sustainable, local and fair places to invest our purchases in. Her book makes it easier for anyone living in Switzerland, let alone Zurich, to vote for circular economical structures and help support business, brand, and people that have taken an ecological approach to do business.
I reached out to Anina to talk about her new book, work, and her blog. As well as to get her to touch on what it means to live more conscious and “nachhaltig” (sustainably).
Hi Anina! Thanks a ton for agreeing to do this interview. I just needed to say, you are the only other person that I have come across with the same name as my sister in law. I have always thought of it to be such a beautiful and pure name.
I think your story and blog is very relatable to people living in a place like Zurich, and a great reflection of how to use the privileges we have to live in a place like this for the bettering and support of an all more sustainable and inclusive world.
I know a ton about you, but could you introduce yourself shortly to me readers and give some background on how you started out lifestyle blogging?
Well, at first I would like to thank you for all of your kind words and it’s an honor to be featured on your blog! - also, wow, you are definitely following me since the very beginnings somehow, that’s so cool. So, who am I? Nowadays, I usually describe myself as a digital nomad, creative personal brander, forever wild child, author, etc. I am very much into movement, Yoga, a healthy and holistic lifestyle and of course sustainability, which for me is an integral part of a conscious & holistic way of life.
And well, I think I could say that lifestyle/sustainability blogging found me by which I mean that I did not like plan to become a blogger or something. The mindset of sustainability, however, is something that accompanies me already for basically my entire life. My parents raised me (I call it “the end of the world”) in the middle of the countryside, far away from the next bigger city, in the middle of a valley where there was only forest, animals - pure nature. They showed me the importance of treating human beings, animals and the environment with respect. Also, they showed me the importance of empathy, of fairness, and raised me into an independent, sometimes slightly querulent woman, who dares to say no and to follow her very unique path. I’ll try to keep it short though because this is a really long evolution to what finally came down into sustainability blogging. Anyways, I think, the key was the mindset with which I went through life. After half a year's trip through Mexico, I started professional dance training at the age of 19. After that, with some detours, I finished a Bachelor Degree in Design Management, worked for TV, etc. During all that time I started using Social Media. First to market myself with regards to dancing, then I started to write for other platforms and all of a sudden also realized that I wanted to clearly position myself with the communication on my own channels. Ergo, the entire sustainability blogging started. I created my own platform (which used to be blossik. now it’s ekkoist) and soon got first collaboration opportunities. Today, I am a self-employed sustainability blogger for over 2 years now, and I just published my first book called “ekko” (- you could get your copy on ekkoist.shop).
“ekkoist”, your self-coined word, and personal philosophy. What is the story behind the word, and can you give an example of who or what it is? Please elaborate on the wordplay of “ekko ist” and egoist, and use Ø the instead of O.
I love playing around with words and also stretching them into artistic forms. So, at the base of ekkoist of course lies the word “eco”. I, however, didn’t want to use the word just like that, also because it is connected with a lot of prejudice. When playing around, I then created the word “ekkoist” which for me is connected to something you could call “egoism 2.0”. By that, I mean that an ekkoist is someone who understands that by only wanting the very best for herself/himself she/he needs to choose sustainable alternatives. This could mean: if you don’t want to poison your skin with toxic cosmetics, you’ll automatically choose natural cosmetics. If you actually want to keep living on this planet as it is (or better) then you have to choose sustainable alternatives. So, an ekkoist is someone who knows and understands and simultaneously still wants to enjoy life & get the best out of it (the more you know the less you can go back) and through that turns to a more sustainable lifestyle.
The “Ø” origins in the image of our globe, so it stands for the globe. Also, I adore the Nordic design and this was the perfect opportunity to integrate that a little bit more into the look of the logo.
Your book, Ekko, is what I essentially consider a guide to navigating Switzerland in a worthwhile manner. You list 64 places in it.
Have you visited all these places personally?
Oh yes, and how I visited these places personally. I actually visited around 200 places and then broke them down into my absolute favorites. It was essential to me to test, feel, see every single place - how else could I recommend and write about it? If someone visits one of my suggested places I want to be as sure as possible that they’ll have a nice experience and I believe that this is only possible when I personally know the place. Also, I mean, it is all about sharing my world, my favorites, and I think that’s just not possible without having been there.
You travel quite a lot within Switzerland, and it’s something I want to do more of. Do you do this deliberately or does it just seem to happen?
I think it’s a mix. But I do try to, instead of all the time going abroad, stay in Switzerland and appreciate its incredible beauty. There is so, so much to see here and oftentimes it’s even more beautiful than abroad (at least in my opinion). So, yes, sometimes it’s just work-related, and of course, I did a lot of research for ekko. But in the end, it’s also just something I really love doing and that I deliberately plan. As for example hikes, etc.
What I love about your book is how much is reveals living more consciously and sustainably in Switzerland is. I think we are at such a vantage point when it comes to this, but yet I feel like there are many contradictions within, particularly, Zurich culture. For example, in Zurich, we have a big consumerist approach to life and free time and I often am confronted with social concerns with money and status. Your book is so “bodestendig“ and a great reminder of what our money is supposed to be used for. Was this intentional?
What were your reasons behind writing this book and what has been the feedback and reaction you have gotten about it so far? Did you expect the reactions you have gotten so far?
Well, I always wanted to write a book. As a little girl, and also now, I have been reading, and reading, and reading. So, that was definitely a bucket list material. When I then had the idea of this travel guide, it was the perfect fit to start into a book project. The idea of this travel guide originated out of the lack of something similar. I had the impression that whenever I wanted to travel somewhere I had to make some in-depth research to first find out where I could eat, where I would want to shop or sleep. So in the end, I basically created the list I always wished would already exist.
Also, the idea behind ekko is to show that sustainability has already so much grown out of the old bad image of “whole wheat hippy times” but is actually super cool, delicious, stylish and sexy. I would love to encourage people to look beyond the mainstream and just start discovering. And I absolutely wanted to do that in an undogmatic, playful and inspiring manner.
When I decided to create that book all on my own, I honestly had absolutely no idea how it would be received. And I must say, to that point in time I am pretty overwhelmed with the love, support and interest I got and am still getting from my community. So, I think whoever comes across my little booklet of sustainable discoveries loves it and is inspired and motivated to get out and start discovering. Which was exactly my idea! So yes, I am very happy about the reactions and I still hope that ekko will find its way into many more curious hands.
Your book brings focus and highlights much smaller house grown Business, that might otherwise be overlooked by a greater amount of consumers. How important was it for you to use a local and small business book manufacture in Winterthur? As well to have it printed with Blue angel & FSC certified paper?
That was basically the condition for me to actually create this book. I wanted to close the circle and I feel like, if I speak about sustainability and if I encourage to live sustainably then I also want to create this guide in the most sustainable way possible. Which then resulted in the production in Winterthur together with the Buchmanufaktur. And then of course also came down to the choice of paper, etc.
Have you also considered turning the book into an ebook? And I read 1% of your proceeds will go to cause worthy projects, have you already identified some?
An eBook is not really planned since I really wanted to create a book, something haptic that you could take into your backpack and leave your phone aside for once. Of course you’ll probably still google the address but still, there is this mini-digital-detox thought involved too. Also, the platform ekkoist.com provides you with loads of suggestions to where to travel and closes this ebook “gap” sufficiently in my opinion.
Yes, that’s the plan. I think that every company should give back nowadays and even though I am super super small and am rather concerned with survival than with swimming in money I want to give back too. Since I only started the book project this Spring I haven’t yet identified a particular project I will support. There are so many and I’ll just see at the end of the year which project will fit.
In researching and writing your book,
What was the most impressive thing you learned?
That is a good question and I had to think about it for a moment. And I honestly am not sure what it could be, because there are so many things I learned over the course of this creative process. I, however, think that one very important learning for me was, that if you really want to do something, just do it. Go for it. So, I think after having written, produced, designed, published, distributed a book all by myself, I am not that much afraid of tackling any new challenge.
What is sustainable and conscious living to you, how do you strive to live it and promote it?
For me, living sustainably always is closely connected or actually is a holistic approach to life. It’s not only about treating humans, animals and the environment respectfully but also myself. I also believe that sustainability should be seen on various levels - ecological, social, etc. So in my case, I try to only choose organic products that ideally have been produced locally and sustainably, be that groceries, cosmetics, etc. Also, I am trying to live a minimalistic approach to life and I am rather reducing my possessions than increasing the amount of what I own. I try to use things as long as possible and whenever feasible I try to repair, a gift before throwing away anything. I don’t want to be part of the consumerist crazy system we live in and I try to rather support small, innovative businesses than big corporations. Most of the things I discover and find out for myself, I also share online. And I think the most important message is that nobody is perfect and that every small attempt is already worth a lot. I believe in the power of the mass and therefore try to playfully and undogmatically inspire for a more conscious and sustainable lifestyle.
Do you think consumerist attitudes in the West are improving or have improved in the last 5 years? And do you think there is a growing acknowledgment of a global and threatening crisis?
These are some big questions. I, however, do think that there is a raising awareness happening in the Western countries and that there are also happening quite some changes. With regards to trend research, there definitely is a Mega Trend happening with regards to Neo Ecology and its many facets. Of course, we are not at all going at the pace we should be but I’ll take whatever I get. I however also think that there are still way too many things being tolerated and happening on this planet, that should have been stopped already a long time ago. But yes, I do observe that the topic of sustainability is a lot more present than it used to be and I don’t think it has peaked yet.
Recently there has been a lot of talk about mental health, body positivism and inclusion in the media. I love how raw and conscious your posts are and I defiantly get a sense the importance of the above-mentioned topics in relation to your blog.
Do you think it’s important that we too in the sustainable lifestyle scenes start to have conversations about this too and get to work on them?
Of course, I think these topics to be super important. Also, as already mentioned earlier, I always see sustainability as a holistic approach to life which automatically also includes my own health, mental health, etc. I think the more aware we are in general the more conscious we are about the footprints we leave on this planet.
I think a major misconception I face as a ZeroWaste to Low impact blogger is that I am not concerned about or aware of other pressing issues in the world. I find it hard to cover EVERYTHING. I read a quote recently that went something like, we aren’t looking for one person doing everything perfectly, we want a whole bunch of living sustained imperfectly. Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed to talk about or know all facets of pending ecological topics?
I can relate very well to this feeling, also since it has turned into something to “eco-shame” sustainability bloggers for every not a 100% perfect move they make. Be that that for once they fly somewhere too, they use a straw, etc. I always say that I believe in the power of the mass. Which goes into the many living sustainably imperfectly. It’s not realistic to expect everyone to be perfect. Even more so, what is even perfect? The different challenges of sustainable topics are sometimes so incredibly complex that it’s even hard to evaluate what actually is the right thing to do. I plead for more acceptance in general and I am grateful for whoever tries to change something to the better: be that by saving animals from the streets, founding a women circle, donating to an important cause. We all have our own struggles and limitations and it should never be an excuse to do nothing, but it’s not on us to judge. So, ultimately, I think it really all comes down to more acceptance, awareness, empathy, and respect. If we were just all a bit more sensitive and soft, we’d automatically become sparks to others and thus part of a continually growing overall awareness.
I see you are very active, and your Instagram is filled with some AWESOME yoga positions.
What is conscious living to you & how does yoga play into that?
So, conscious living is a holistic way of life for me. Every choice I make has a direct consequence not only for myself but it also sends a signal. I try to choose the most positive things with the lowest impact. Since sustainability is closely connected to self-love in my opinion, I try to treat my body, mind, and soul with as much love as possible. Yoga is a wonderful way to show my body and mind all the love it deserves. It helps me to get a calm mind, to recenter, and to become strong, flexible and versatile.
So I read you were a vegetarian from a very young age, and you are currently Vegan.
How recent is the choice to be Vegan for you, and is it an ethical, political or ecological stance for you? If yes, how?
Yes, I have been vegetarian since the age of eight. With veganism, I first had somewhat of an on and off relationship. But over time, the exact same thing happened as in all the other aspects of my life: the more knowledge I gained the less I could go back. And there came a moment, where a vegan diet was just THE only sensible next step - with regards to ethics, health and also ecological reasons. So nowadays, there are so many reasons to go vegan, and basically, all of them matter to me. I, however, would describe myself as a non-extremist vegan. This means that on one hand, I do not try to actively convince people to change their diet (the only thing I think to be important is that everyone has to know what they do and then actively decide for or against something), also I am not overcomplicated and might enjoy a Brownie with some egg in it, if it was backed by a friend, or so. I believe that every extreme leads to rigidity which is not healthy. So I just try to flexibly follow a clear line which is in the case of my diet a vegan diet.
I initially reached out to you concerning the recent Sustainable Fashion week in Zurich and your involvement in campaigns like “who made my clothes”. In the day and age of Fast fashion and unethical and wasteful practices within the industry.
How important is fashion as an approach to sustainable living for you?
I actually think that fashion plays an essential part in the approach to a more sustainable way of living. The fashion business is the somewhat second largest polluter of all industries, also there are so many people (often women and even children) involved in extremely bad working conditions, etc. How we are used to consuming (fast) fashion nowadays is just sick. So I think by changing something about your way of how you wear and buy clothes is already a big step towards a more sustainable lifestyle. So yes, I think it’s very important to be aware of the negative impact of this industry. I am very much into second-hand shopping since this does not even use new resources but keeps the garments already produced for a longer time in the cycle. Also, buying sustainably and fairly produced fashion is key. And, consuming less.
How important is the internet and social media in the work you do?
Well, that’s what I live off. My entire business is based on digital media and I would basically be out of a job without the internet and social media. I think that ambos are a blessing - they open up an incredible possibility of connection, of sharing, of inspiration. Of course, only when used wisely. So, the internet and social media give me the chance to pursue work that is fulfilling for me and at the same time benefits others. Which feels like the perfect solution for me.
Balance is the biggest struggle for me and it’s something I am constantly working. Mostly to maintain my mental and physical health. How often and why do you go on digital detoxing?
I was only once in a real digital detox for four days, which was a very cool experience. I was part of a trial series and had the opportunity to experience the Digital Detox Camp in Adelboden first-hand. However, I do think, that it is extremely important to always keep some offline time in mind, to consciously take breaks and to sometimes also just leave the phone at home or just switch it off. I personally always switch it off overnight and only switch it on after my morning routine, etc. I think we tend to often just fill every empty moment that could be filled with thoughts/creativity/ ideas with a look at our phone. So we are basically constantly distracted and never just being. And I think the exact moments of where we just are, without doing anything in particular, are so so valuable and shouldn’t be missed.
What do you want to see changed in the world and how are you working towards making that a reality?
Well, of course, world peace and an entirely circular system in every industry would be the romantic dream. A life where all beings live in respect with each other without doing any unnecessary harm to each other. This, of course, is rather unrealistic which is why I’d already been very happy with a still a lot stronger awareness for the situation of our planet and big steps towards more sustainable lifestyles. My own contribution to this is sharing my own journey of trying to live more sustainably (without becoming rigid) and trying to inspire others in a playful way, to try so too.
What do you think about sustainable lifestyles becoming mainstream or “going viral”, do you see any downsides to this?
Well, if it turns into greenwashing (no serious effort is being done to actually really being more sustainable) I think it can be very misleading and problematic. But as long as it turns viral, becomes mainstream or similar I think that’s actually great (even though this sometimes also means less work for me, because all of a sudden everyone seems to be sustainable). But as said - the more awareness we can raise the better. The more we talk about it, learn about it, the bigger the awareness and ultimately the movement can grow.
Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview, and taking the time to share such healthy content with us via your blog and Instagram. I find it great to open Instagram and have people like you and your content my feed. I only have one more question: How long are you going to make us wait for your next dancing outburst? Keep at it, they really bring I and my girls a ton of joy to watch.
Ahh well, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to be part of your platform. I really appreciate it. And thanks for the very interesting questions. hahaha, with regards to the outburst - with you asking - this might actually happen very soon again. With a special dedication to you maybe.