Women to Watch: Amber McDaniel of Sustainable Jungle

Women to Watch is a Q&A series where we highlight women we work with, appreciate and admire.

Amber McDaniel of Sustainable Jungle

Amber McDaniel and Sustainable Jungle popped on our radar when she reached out to write a post for our blog on bamboo fabric care. Amber's devotion to living sustainably and sharing what she gleans along the way with others has taken her in several directions within and beyond Sustainable Jungle. Learn more below!

How did Sustainable Jungle come to be?

Sustainable Jungle began as a website and podcast founded by Joy and Lyall in 2017. They traveled extensively in the first few years and interviewed amazing people worldwide. Those episodes are still available on our site, and I'm told they'll be relaunching the podcast soon.

I came into the fold in 2018 as their first staff member. It's wild to step back and think about how much I've seen the organization grow and flourish in that time. We went from a tiny website publishing one article a week to one with lots of traction and easily 4+ new pieces weekly.

I've been in many roles since 2018. I began as a freelance writer and evolved into uploading articles and heading up PR and brand outreach. Then, a couple of years ago, I stepped into the role of head editor as we brought new writers on board. These days, I do a bit of everything as "Head of Content," which encompasses all the tasks within my purview.

What is the aim of Sustainable Jungle?

Our goal is to promote sustainability in a digestible and empowering way. Terms like "zero waste" can be intimidating, so we try to break down those barriers by conveying that folks can live more sustainably through small and easy actions.

Our guiding ethos is "progress over perfection." We want to uplift readers by encouraging them that small changes matter. You don't have to fit a year's trash into a single mason jar to live more sustainably ;)

What aspects of sustainable living do you like to talk about? 

Our staff all has unique interest niches, which makes for well-balanced content. I get personally invested in topics like upcycling, sustainable food, organic gardening, and sustainability in outdoor recreation.

Our zero-waste articles get great responses. Because we don't approach sustainability with an all-or-nothing attitude, these easy tip-based guides are fan favorites. 

Outside of SJ, do you dabble in other passion projects? 

I actually own several of my own interconnected businesses. My husband and I operate a brick-and-mortar used outdoor clothing and gear consignment shop in our town, Wind River Rewind. We also collect non-resellable items (namely retired climbing ropes) and upcycle them into new products that are also available in my Etsy Shop.

Previously we were full-time Vanlifers, so I also maintain a website, Always the Adventure, about van building, van life, and how to make both more sustainable.

Do you have any sustainable living habits now that a younger you would be surprised by?

So many! Sustainability was not a concern in my household growing up. We never had excess money, and frugality taught me valuable lessons in not buying unneeded things. It also swayed me away from spending more money on better products—for both myself and the planet—for a long time.

These days, I forage for and grow a lot of my produce in the summer, eat a whole-food diet largely, and try to buy primarily organic, cage-free, free-range, wild-caught, and local food. And yes, that even means buying $6 loaves of bread filled while whole grains that will nourish me more than that $1 load of white bread ;)

Paint us a picture of your ideal life.

Without a doubt, my ideal world would have me homesteading on a self-sufficient micro-farm, doing upcycle art, and writing books. Being a writer has always been my dream, and while I have achieved that in some capacity, I hope to publish novels one day.

I currently live in a moveable, tiny house, so now all I need is a plot of land! My ideal life is a realistic goal that I'm working toward.

Any recent wins or new developments on the horizon?

On a personal business note, the can cozies I make using retired climbing rope recently got picked up by Uncommon Goods, so we're busy fulfilling huge orders. We've already recycled thousands of meters of old landfill-bound rope, which is incredibly exciting!

Where can we learn more?

I encourage everyone to check out Sustainable Jungle. We have a broad topic base—from composting guides and general sustainability questions to ethical fashion, housewares, and beauty brand lists. We truly offer something for everyone. If you are inspired to learn how to reduce your impact, subscribe to our newsletter for topical updates on our vast and growing breadth of content.

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