Eunice Jung, Head of Partnerships at Future, moved to NYC with only what would fit into three suitcases.
When you think of sustainability, you may think about paper straws, shopping from local farmers, installing solar panels or using public transportation, but sustainability is so much more than a few everyday choices—it’s pretty much all of them!
In an attempt to encourage people to learn more about all the ways their habits can contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle, venture-backed start-up Future offers the FutureCard with Visa built to reward customers who make greener purchases.
The FutureCard Visa Debit Card gives customers 5 percent cash back for shopping at local thrift stores, renting bikes and eating sustainably, among other things. Lululemon Like New, Patagonia Worn Wear and Levi SecondHand are a few of the climate-friendly brands who are partnered directly into the program.
Eunice Jung, Head of Partnerships at Future, is educating the public on how to use the card by incorporating it into her daily life. She’s been documenting her recent move to New York City and attempts to make it as sustainable as possible, all the while showcasing the FutureCard’s ability to make the journey a little more rewarding.
We caught up with Jung to learn more about this journey, and discuss how sustainability can fit into the groove of society right now.
Eunice Jung poses with her Take Back Bag from For Days.
What does sustainability mean to you?
The biggest thing for me is that sustainability is for everyone. It should be accessible, and it always has been, but there’s this overarching narrative that sustainability requires an extra price tag or a luxury price point. While you can practice sustainability in those ways, people in my immigrant community have practiced sustainability for years, and I want to highlight that sustainability doesn’t require you to break the bank. It might be something that you’re already practicing!
What are ways you incorporate sustainability in your day-to-day life?
I think “what happens to this item after I’m done using it?” I think about the end-of-life of the things that I’m thinking of buying or have in my house already. How can I extend this life cycle? How can I extend it’s life beyond what it was meant to be? Just being a little bit more mindful of “where is this going to sit after I’m done with this?” and “is there a way for me to prevent it from sitting in a landfill for hundreds of years?”
Jung updates this mirror with DIY crafts
Do you have any brand recommendations, favorite sustainable shops, or anything that’s really helped you stay sustainable during your move?
When people look to me for fashion inspiration, they’re really shocked when I say, “I bought this used.” I shop on Depop, Poshmark, ThredUp and the RealReal, and I partake in that circularity. A lot of my friends have bought clothing off me, and I’ve sold to a lot of people on Depop.
The average American throws away around 40 pounds of clothing a year, and by “throwing away” I mean it ends up in a landfill. When people mass donate to Goodwill or charity—although that’s a great alternative to just disposing of it—there’s an excessive amount of clothing thrown into these organizations, and they’re understaffed. There’s not enough buyers willing to meet that demand, so it does end up in a landfill or is shipped abroad where it becomes the responsibility of countries that didn’t sign up to carry the waste of the global north.
Are there key products or items you’ve bought via Depop or second-hand stores?
I follow a lot of small, independent designers. I love to support people of color in the design world, especially in the fashion industry because it’s much harder to get their foot in the door and become an established house. There’s a lot of white privilege embedded in having that recognition. A lot of the smaller designers I like are women-owned by women of color. It’s exciting to get Hyein Seo. She’s a Korean fashion designer who makes futuristic clothing. You can find her stuff on Depop all the time.
It's a really good way to explore and learn about smaller designers, and comes at a more accessible price point. It's a life hack, so I don’t know why people aren’t on it. You can find amazing, long-lasting pieces that are a minuscule fraction of what is retailed.
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Moving to the FutureCard, it guides users to make more sustainable and climate-friendly purchasing decisions. What ways has the card guided you?
The cool thing about being in a leadership role in a company like this, and working in a company that is very value aligned, is that I get to direct and build this product for myself. “What would I want out of this card?” The FutureCard was created to encourage and empower everyday people who spend on groceries, transportation, etc.; to get them thinking about the sustainability impact of their purchases. More importantly, how do we encourage people to know that sustainable purchases actually save money?
It’s a debit card that doesn’t require any credit. It doesn't even report to any of the credit bureaus, and the approval process is pretty easy. You don't need to create a new bank account to access this card, so it’s very accessible. You can get high levels of cash back for everyday things like taking the metro in NYC, or taking a Citi bike instead of taking a taxi in Manhattan. We're rewarding people financially as a nudge to choose that lower carbon option, because it's ultimately better for your wallet and for the planet.
All the spending I do is usually aligned, and I get benefits for it. I get cash back every time I thrift in person or online. That's the beautiful part; sustainability isn't one size fits all. Beauty and fashion companies are recognizing the issue of environmentalism and waste in the industry. Some are 3-D printing items, and some are creating low waste packaging or incorporating excess fabric. Where you spend your money does challenge companies to harness creative, different ways to practice sustainability. It's possible. The H&Ms of the world can all do it.
Jung's rented couch from The Everset
How are you balancing sustainability in your apartment hunt?
Before I moved I was like, “I'm going to make it a goal to not buy off Amazon.” I'm gonna be real with you; it was really difficult to fully commit to that because of the convenience, the price factor, and all the things that make Amazon super enticing.
All of the furniture that's in our house is rented. I live with three roommates, so it made sense for us financially to split the cost of renting furniture. It's not that much for us to have nice, durable furniture that will be re-used and rented by someone else after our one-year lease.
We got our furniture from The Everset, which is New York based, but there's also places like Kaiyo which sell used furniture. I think Facebook Marketplace is huge. I also got some stuff there, including some chairs.
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Do you think it's possible for us to be 100 percent sustainable in today's climate? If not, what are some beginner steps?
I will say, it is really hard to imagine a wholly sustainable world because the non-sustainable option is extremely cheap. It’s created a capitalistic society where corporations benefit from really cheap production at the expense of the environment; at the expense of people.
I'm optimistic, and I do believe people have a lot more power than companies say. People think it's impossible for us to push Amazon to do better, but we saw that change recently in the beauty industry. Rihanna came in and created skincare for so many different skin types, and look where all the money is now? Companies that have traditionally excluded so many types of people are benefiting from that.
There is some response to consumer trends and consumer power. Unfortunately, sustainable options from a business standpoint have to make money, or have some sort of monetary incentive. That being said, I really believe there is so much power the individual consumer can have. I was shocked at Urban Outfitters’ new line of repurposed vintage, Urban Renewal. Free People now has this “Carefree Days” line of recycled and sustainable items. It's exciting, because it means companies are reacting to where consumers spend their money. There’s a lot more structural change that we would have never imagined five years ago.
You are the shopper. You are the main demographic of these companies, so if you're not going to give them their money, they're going to do something about it!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Learn more about the FutureCard at future.green.
Photography by: Courtesy of Eunice Jung