Lori Myren-Manbeck has made sustainability her life's mission. Now the CEO of Inclusivi-tee, an Edina-based company that sells artist-designed shirts, bags and notebooks, is challenging others to do the same with a new book full of helpful tips and tricks on how to incorporate a more eco-friendly approach to clothing, food and lifestyle.
"You Can Save The World: In fact, You're the Only One Who Can," will be available digitally beginning March 21. The e-book, available on her website inclusivi-tee.com, highlights the practices Myren-Manbeck has incorporated into her life.
"I wrote the book because, every time I did some research on the fashion industry as I was preparing to print T-shirts, I was surprised by how much I didn't know about how sort of bad the fashion industry is for the world," Myren-Manbeck said.
"That made me think about other areas of life and really start looking at everything we do."
Myren-Manbeck started her company in 2017 following a career in geriatric psychology, a deep passion. But she said Inclusivi-tee was born because she "felt a very compelling call to do something bigger" that involved promoting kindness and justice. Being raised by two compassionate pastors in rural Iowa, she said "the roots of the book have been with me all along: the idea of finding simple ways for people to really make changes and move the world."
She said the goal of the book is to inspire others to be the solution to climate change. Despite how overwhelming the issue may seem, little changes can make a big difference, like turning the thermostat down 1 degree.
And, as the title suggests, not making even little changes in our everyday lives means that "nothing will change and our home will become increasingly unlivable."
A few tips on fashion found in the book include limiting use of synthetic fabric, buying ethically made clothing, learning how to mend to keep clothing longer, and washing clothes less frequently.
When it comes to food, most consumers are tuned in to buying local produce and products when possible, but the book also encourages buying in bulk, which reduces packaging and pollution if shoppers are traveling to the store in a vehicle.
As for lifestyle habits, Myren-Manbeck recommends that people reduce their environmental impact by vacationing close to home, reducing the use of plastics in beauty products and being conscious of the eateries they support to ensure that those establishments align with eco-friendly goals.
She encourages readers to join organizations that promote environmental justice, like Earth Guardians.
Myren-Manbeck was aided in writing the book by research and design assistant Eileen O'Brien, a student at George Mason University studying social innovation. O'Brien found her way to Myren-Manbeck during the pandemic through Inclusivi-tee, which donates 50% of its profits to local nonprofits, including Elder Friends, Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota, Sigma's Bookshelf, BreathLogic and Black Lives Matter.
"They put so much trust in me with helping Lori with her vision," O'Brien said. "It was super in line with everything I was studying."
O'Brien's classes center on sustainable business, social justice and art. She hopes to use this Inclusivi-tee experience and her social innovation degree to be a sustainability consultant for a fashion brand. Though she has actually never met Myren-Manbeck in person because of the pandemic, the 21-year-old said the internship was the perfect fit with her passion for sustainable fashion.
The pandemic not only afforded the time and space for Myren-Manbeck to create the book with O'Brien; she also launched a podcast last April with episodes frequently airing since. "Inclusivi-TALKS" features artists and activists of all ages sharing their passions and ways they are working to save the planet in big and small ways. The podcast is available on all major streaming platforms.
She said one her favorite episodes features Graham Russell, one of the lead singers of Air Supply, who recites original poetry and talks about songwriting, the importance of balance, and youth experiences that shaped his life.
Both the book and podcast led Myren-Manbeck to an additional idea: engaging the online community with a "sustainability challenge." Throughout February, she shared daily challenges on Facebook for anyone to participate and earn an array of donated prizes, like autographed Vikings footballs, free health consultations, custom artwork and eco-friendly tools like a bamboo hairbrush. Anyone could join for free and follow along as the dozens of donors and artists shared more about their work.
Myren-Manbeck hopes to roll out a similar challenge that's more food-based this summer. Whether someone is already committing to zero-waste or just beginning a sustainable living journey, the tips and advice are accessible, she said.
"I'm just so excited about all of it," she said.
"I would ideally like to make 2021 a year of sustainable living, the year that we sort of make that shift and all of us start seeing sustainability as sort of a lens we view our world through, so that [with] every decision we make, we at least know the consequences of that decision."