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On this week’s episode of the L.A. Weekly podcast, host Brian Calle has an in-depth discussion with blogger, mental health advocate and environmentalist Valeria Hinojosa about how she got on her path to change the world, and ways others can do the same.

“It’s actually a funny story … I used to be a private banker. I think that career awoke something in me – I’ve always had this connection with nature, coming from Bolivia where we are pretty much surrounded by nature – when I came to the U.S. I graduated and immediately got accepted as an intern at a bank and that transitioned into a full-time position and I didn’t even have an opportunity to process what I had chosen as a career. It wasn’t until my third or fourth year as a private banker that I realized that I was disconnecting from this passion I had with nature. I was losing myself, I was losing my essence.”

“I was dealing with depression without realizing what depression was,” she continues. “I wasn’t focusing on my spirit, and my spirit was screaming nature, and that’s how my blog came to life.”

The platform initially came to life as a way of venting her frustrations and hopes, but eventually turned into something much more: a way to connect with a  like-minded community also passionate about nature. In the process of building her blog, she came to know about sustainability and climate change.

“The more I learned the more I wanted to share it with the world, and that’s pretty much how WaterThruSkin came to life,” explains Hinojosa.

“I created WaterThruSkin because I wanted it to be more than a platform, I wanted it to be a movement. I wanted to be transparent and reenergizing like water, but I also wanted it to have the power to penetrate skin and reach souls, soul deep,” she elaborates.

From there, she transformed her life into one of environmentally conscious sustainable living. She used her platform to help others do the same, one step at a time.

Photo Credit: @mariafornieles IG (Maria Fornieles)

For her though, it was a bit more than a step. More so, a leap.

Transitioning from a steady paycheck and a rising career in the world of banking to building a website and brand from the ground up was a gargantuan, and mostly unheard of, task.

“That was my first step, just taking the risk, taking the leap of faith,” shares Hinojosa.

From there it was a lot of writing, a lot of pitching, and even more researching. Hinojosa maintains the integrity of her brand by rigorously researching sponsors and partners, to ensure they meet the earth-friendly criteria she has set.

From her work as an environmentalist and eco-activist she was led to discover another passion of hers: conscious entrepreneurship. What is conscious entrepreneurship? It’s creating companies that are solving everyday problems that have nature and people in mind.

How does one follow in her footsteps, resetting their life to actively living sustainably?

“I think the biggest first step is just understanding that there is no perfection when it comes to being a better human, and the second one would be the power we have as a consumer and as a human, we are setting the demands,” she answers. “So once we start reshaping those demands we can start reshaping industries.”

Separating true eco-friendly companies from those just trying to profit off of sustainability marketing can be difficult, so the activist suggests a litmus test for how you make environmentally-friendly changes: Staying true to yourself.

The intersection of capitalism and sustainability has given more power to the everyday consumer. But Hinojosa cautions against uninformed acceptance of “eco” brands.

“I think our biggest mistake as consumers is the fact that we gave too much power to the companies. We never questioned them. We just started buying their products, we believed in their marketing campaigns, and that’s where our society kind of got lost. We started trusting way too much. Now it’s our time to take that power back,” asserts Hinojosa. “Start educating ourselves, start reading labels, start reading the mission statement of the companies. Are they paying their employees a fair wage, where are their companies and their warehouses, where are they working, what materials are they using – those are things that we never even consider.”

It’s time for that to change. To learn more about Hinojosa and WaterThruSkin, visit them on Instagram @waterthruskin. Get tips on how to live life suitably, as well as advice on how to build your own platform, listen to the podcast here: Spotify, Apple Podcasts or at Cumulus Los Angeles.

LA Weekly