Aleks, who has founded Natural Bröder, a vegan organic cosmetics and skincare brand, reflects, among other things, on the reasons he established the brand, the main ways anyone can contribute to social impact and why it is also needed to have fun.
Aleks, how do you define yourself?
Maybe just an active person, if anything. I don’t like the connotation that comes with the modern “activist” term, for example. I’m just a guy who likes to practically contribute where it’s possible and needed.
If you are a vegan/vegetarian, then when and why did you go vegan/vegetarian?
I’m not a vegan, at least not at the moment. I used to be a raw vegan for some years when I lived with my family because my mom was into it, but when I moved out I lost that discipline. After that I was a vegan for a while, now I eat meat occasionally, though I choose not to eat pork. I look at a diet from a practical point of view: if I’m in a place where I can obtain all the needed nutrition from fruits and vegetables, I’ll do that, if it’s not possible, I will eat meat too.
What types of social and political movements are important to you?
None to be honest. I’m not into politics very much. I read about what is going on in the world occasionally and pay attention to it, but I choose not to tie myself to movements. I can speak for myself, if my opinion is needed.
What were your reasons being establishing the brand Natural Bröder?
Uhh, the brand was started pretty randomly to be honest. I was urban gardening and making organic products for myself, my family and my girlfriend at first. Then my friends found out about it and started asking me to make some things for them too as well as encouraging me to start an Instagram account for it. When I did that, suddenly orders started coming in, my other friends decided to invest in it and all of a sudden I had a shop. It’s important to me to make sure that every product is made with care and attention, and that it’s not just a pretty product with a promising description, but a product that actually works. Besides that it’s important that the brand represents adaptation with the always changing flow of time and harmony with nature and self. I think the hardest part is keeping up with the demand and making sure I do my thing better than the competitors [laughs]. It’s empowering to see how many people are awakening to the importance of being in harmony with our surrounding and that people are taking small steps towards big changes.
The goal of the Natural Bröder is to produce natural organic skincare products and help improve our environment by bringing people closer to their roots and raise awareness about the issues our planet is currently facing. You are offering these solutions: using natural ingredients, recycling glass, recycling and reusing metal, being plastic free, hosting environmental awareness events, gardening, education on mindful consumption, minimal waste, and waste free living and urban gardening. Is there something else you or anyone else can do in order to be kinder to our planet?
Be creative and keep your eyes open. Be aware of your surroundings and your unique situation, and find unique solutions to the problems you see around. Be positive and healthy example of a change.
What does mindful consumption mean to you, regarding the brand and also in your daily life?
To me it means that I don’t get too comfortable or lazy. I pay attention to how much I consume, what I consume and what I can do with the leftovers. If I can reuse a jar for something else, I’ll do that. If I can compost something, I’ll do that. If I receive my raw materials in a plastic ziplock bag, I’m not gonna start a drama, I’ll reuse that bag or think of a better solution and offer it to the supplier.
How would you introduce zero waste (lifestyle) to a newbie?
I myself don’t live a 100% zero waste lifestyle. My financial situation doesn’t allow me to do that all the time. Though I try to be as zero waste as I can be. If I was to rate myself, I’d say I’m about 70% zero waste. If in my region the only option to buy toilet paper is to buy it wrapped in plastic, that’s what I’m going to do.
If I was to introduce a newbie to it, I’d introduce the basics, e.g. using glass vessels for things and taking a cotton bag to the grocery store. I think it can be quite intimidating to go balls deep into zero waste lifestyle without a smooth introduction. The hardest part is getting some basic or not so basic products without plastic. Because, for example, if I need an industrial antimicrobial spray, obviously it won’t come in a paper bag or a glass bottle.
People, who want to make the world a better place, are vulnerable to stress effects. Can you share some self-care tips?
Don’t be too fragile. Don’t identify yourself with the movement you’re supporting. Many activists make their activism the centre of their personality, that’s kinda sad. Relax and let it be. Do what you can — you don’t have to do the most.
What non-human persons can teach us?
A lot about the world we’re living in, ourselves and relationships with others. I love to learn from things around me. From plants and bugs to animals. We can learn something from everything.
What are the main ways anyone can contribute to social impact?
Work on yourself and become better. You and I don’t, and anyone doesn’t have to be a hero. As long as we’re working on bettering ourselves and our surrounding, we’re doing good. If you raise your child well and I do the same, if we improve our surrounding as much as we can for us and them, then you and I have made a positive contribution to our society as our kids will be more mindful and good to their environment, to the people around them and so on.
What vegans, minimalists, etc would you say have influenced you the most, and why?
I would say no one, as I don’t look at people that much.
What’s next up for you?
Hosting more workshops as people seem to be enjoying them a lot. Figuring out more interesting things I can share and teach. And umm, growing my brand.