How to Enjoy the Sustainability Journey with Emilia Frano




Emilia Frano is a natural wellness advocate, plant based vegan, sustainability enthusiast, essential oil pro, yogi, and new mama. Emilia and Carly started by diving right into important conversations about privilege in spaces that discuss sustainability and veganism. They reminisce with stories of how they both tried to change people in their lives to live more like them and talk about how becoming obsessed with making change can make you forget to enjoy the journey.


Please note, this episode has been transcribed by a computer, expect some typos!


Carly Puch

Welcome back to another episode of consciously clueless. I'm your host, Carly and I'll be your guide on this journey from consciousness to cluelessness and back around again. Today on the podcast, I talked to Emilia Frey. No. Emilia is a plant-based vegan. She's interested in natural wellness, sustainability, essential oils. She's a yogi, and she's a new mom. We got into so many great conversations, talking about privilege in climate and zero waste conversations. We talked about meditation and mindfulness, enjoying the journey of becoming sustainable. And how just because we might both be stubborn, doesn't mean we're still not compassionate. Enjoy.

Carly Puch

Well, thank you very much for joining me today.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

You're so welcome. Super excited to be chatting.

Carly Puch

I really liked starting with this question. about where you're at. So the podcast is called consciously clueless to kind of embody this whole idea that sometimes we feel like we're doing a really great job. And we're on top of it, or feeling like yeah, I'm feeling really conscious and with it and then other times we feel completely clueless what's going on, I have no idea and everything in between. So I'm curious where you feel like you're at right now?

Emilia Frano DeSantis

So with everything that's going on in the world right now, I kind of feel like I have regressed on my conscious living just because it's become so difficult to try to be minimal in the waste department. I'm just grocery shopping. So I feel like we kind of have taken a step back just to give ourselves a little bit of grace and especially with just having a baby. So we kind of are like picking and choosing our Zero Waste battles. So we are currently about to start cloth diapering with Oliver, but we're still waiting for him to gain a little bit more weight so he fits in the cloth diapers. So, I know we tried it the other night and he wasn't filling out the diaper. So he peed all throughout the whole day.

Carly Puch

How old is he?

Emilia Frano DeSantis

He is going to be two months on the 12th.

Carly Puch

Okay, real little.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

Yeah, he's a little peanut. So in order to compensate for that, we've we researched and found a diaper brand that at least is compostable within, I think it's 70 some odd days. Okay. They are disposable, but they're better than the norm. So we're kind of going about it in that way. like going to the grocery store. One local market next to us has the bulk section open, but they're having to fill it in. It's in there plastic bags same. So we're making sure to just stock up a ton and fill that plastic bag all the way to The brim so we're not going often. So it we're kind of going about it in that way. Some ways we've stepped back some ways we're moving forward. It's just, it's just challenging with everything going on right now.

Carly Puch

Yeah, I think for me, it was a reminder of my extreme privilege in the movement of using less waste and zero waste and all of that, because these, the things we're talking about right now are starting to talk about are for a lot of people just reality, like there is no other choice. And so the fact that at first I was really whining, you know, at least internally just like oh man, I was doing so well in these areas. And then this hit and boom, I can't do any of the things I felt like I could really pat myself on the back for and what does that mean.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

I know exactly what you mean when when Oliver was born, it was so hard for me to be grateful and except people coming over and bringing take out and then the waste that was Coming from it. So it was like, Oh my gosh, I'm so thankful we have no time to cook right now. But then I'm seeing our trash can take out a lot more often. And we're used to taking it out maybe once every couple days. It's a little trash bin. And that was hard to stomach. But I was like, You need to be grateful. Like there's a lot of privilege coming from this right now. So it's a balance, I guess.

Carly Puch

I think that the biggest thing for me to realize is just like when to pull back because it becomes obsessive for me. And then it's really not enjoyable.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

Hmm, I know my... I put a lot of pressure on myself and I set this bar way too high to where I wanted to be the person who did keep all of their trash in a jar. And it made me It made me crazy at first and I was obsessing over everything because I wanted to be the perfect Zero Waste person and you're exactly right then you're not enjoying the journey to living a more sustainable life and you almost forget your why and he just becomes this like standard to live with Carly Puch

Yes, I sometimes forget podcasting people can't see how like crazy I'm shaking my head up and down right now agreeing with you cuz I'm like everything you're saying. I'm like, Yes. The thing you said too is the forget your why. That for me is really important because that can sometimes fly out the window when I'm feeling obsessive about what I'm doing. I'm not even thinking about why I'm doing it anymore.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

Yep, I know, it quickly goes out the window when you're obsessing over being perfect with it.

Carly Puch

Mm hmm. So how did your sustainability journey start? Where did that come from? Learning more about that...

Emilia Frano DeSantis

So I began my vegan journey first. Mm hmm. And then I think I just started seeing things online. And it became very interesting to me too, and it it paired well with the lifestyle that I was creating. So it just at first, when I went vegan, it was strictly for health purposes.

Carly Puch

Yeah, let's talk that first.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

Yeah. So That came first we decided to watch Forks Over Knives. We thought it was a, like a cooking show. Like we were quickly quickly turned around. Oh, crap. Yeah. And I was Scorpio. So that night I was like, I'm done. I'm vegan.

Carly Puch

You're all in.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

All in black and white. Yeah. I know. It's not like that for everyone. So it's hard for me to to grasp that when somebody watches it. And they're like, Oh, baby steps and I'm like, What do you mean? Go. So my husband is that kind of person. He needed to just cut out one thing at a time. And it's taken him a few years, but now he's finally cut it all in he in his own way. And in his own time when he sees something or he watches something and it clicks for him. So that was three and a half years ago. We watched that documentary. And I want to say at some point that year because it was in January, some point in that first year, being I started seeing a lot of things online. It was one girls video on Instagram of a beach I want to think in like Bali or Costa Rica or somewhere and it was like this beautiful beach and as they zoomed in more and more and more, you saw all the plastic and waste that was just covering the beach. And I was just sickened by it and I don't know why it took that video to click but it was like, Okay, if I'm buying all this good fruits and vegetables and I'm not, you know, consuming animal products anymore. I need to look at my plastic as well. And so I started to I thought I was being sustainable by getting rid of all the plastic in my home instead of using it and slowly taking it out. Again, I'm not like black and white. It's all or nothing so I threw everything away which is so wasteful and all glass jars, no more plastic, no more chemicals. I relate to you so much because it's like I want it to look like it does on Instagram. Yes. I wanted that beautiful pantry in that beautiful fridge. And I look. Now looking back, I must have looked insane when my husband came home from work, and I'm throwing all of this stuff away.

Carly Puch

You're like I'm being sustainable.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

I was like, we need to live more sustainably and he's just so confused. But if I could go back in time, I would definitely finish using those products or at least donate them. There's tons of people in need, who would benefit from using those at least? And then I know it's not just going to landfill right? But you live in you learn we know better, you do better.

Carly Puch

Yeah. It's so interesting how many conversations I've had even so far, about how people's entry point into sustainability seems to be veganism or just plant based living and that's myself included.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

It does kind of go hand in hand. know there's different aspects to it like you can go about it. For Health purposes. That was my main reasoning to start. And then I started looking at the ethical side with, you know, the animal agriculture. And then came the environmental Yep. Wow, you can do so much good just by eating more plants and less animal products if you can't just go you know, full blown, huge difference in all three of those areas.

Carly Puch

So how was it with you being the type of person that I am? 1,000% relating to in terms of black and white, you're like, Okay, done by I'm vegan. And then your husband who was like, okay, yep, I'm on my own journey. How was that for the two of you?

Emilia Frano DeSantis

I'm not gonna lie. It was hard. We had some conversations I'll say is he that night, he was like, I'm done with red meat like something in that video. Something along those lines just clicked and he was like, no more red meat and I'm in was a few weeks later, we watched what the hell and I was like, no, what I'm taking everything out of the fridge like there's no animal products in this home. That ruffled his feathers a little bit. And he was like, so wasteful, you're just throwing this food out. And I was like, throw the food out or you're going to get sick. It was just this this obsession in my mind with like, we're going to get sick if we keep eating this stuff. Yeah, you know, long term, yes. But if he were to even though the turkey sandwich, it probably would not have gotten sick that week. So it did, we had a lot of conversations, a lot of talking late at night. And just I would say, when you're in a partnership like that, and one of you is on one level, the other one's not quite there yet, and they're on their own path. Just talking about it as often as possible, no matter how painful it may seem. And even if it's like we've been talking and having this conversation every night for the last couple of weeks, it only gets better. So like conversations. Not always fun. But now I look back, and I'm like, I'm so glad we did. And I didn't just, you know, do my usual walk away and you know, calm down and get over it because you don't truly get over it. It's still in the room, you know, you have to have this vision.

Carly Puc

Yes. Do you feel like there's anything that you would do differently? Knowing that now like with how you responded to him being slower on that journey? Or do you feel like just like you really did a good job of talking it through,

Emilia Frano DeSantis

I could definitely have been more patient and a lot more understanding. It's hard for me when I'm, when I took that that information, and it was just this automatic response to be done with it. And it's so hard for me when somebody else watches that video or gets the information and they don't have the same response. I don't understand why it doesn't impact them in a way it impacted me. So I think if I would know like, Okay, he's going to get this information. It's going to understand it eventually. I could have Been a lot more patient with him but in my mind it was this obsession like oh my god every bite he takes a cheese or meat Yes. Just because I knew that information.

Carly Puch

I have literally shown people the game changers and you know some of those documentary that, I love that documentary so good.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

Good one right now a lot of people, especially our generation, a lot more men, yes. Clicking for them when they watch that. So now that's become the documentary that I'm recommending to my generation into a lot more men. I just feel it because there's so many athletes in that one. Yep.

Carly Puch

For sure. I've literally been so excited to show people that kind of stuff that I will sit there watching it with them and I'm not even watching the film. I'm watching them. You know, like waiting. I'm like, I'm like waiting for it to click like I'm gonna somehow see an actual light bulb above their head, like it was for me. And then when it doesn't come as quick. I'm like, are we watching the same thing?

Emilia Frano DeSantis

That's exactly what I'm doing. I'm going from the screen to their face like, Oh, yes. waiting for them to look at me and give me the same facial reaction. Like, I know. Can you believe that? You know?

Carly Puch

Yes, it's so hard and it comes from, you know, maybe this is just what I tell myself to make myself feel better. But it comes from a place of love and compassion, but it definitely doesn't always land that way.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

Yeah, my delivery doesn't always seem like it's out of love and compassion, especially if someone doesn't have the same reaction that

Carly Puch

I did girl same. I totally understand that is one of the things and he maybe I should talk about this more in general. I think that's one of the things I wish someone would have talked to me about. When I first went vegan, was like this is this parts going to be really, really hard is when everyone around you isn't on the same page.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

Yes, especially the people you love the most like your closest friends or family or your partner. I always hear about that angry vegan phase like it is so true. And it might go away but it little spurts of it will come back when somebody like when you're watching a documentary or you're reading an article or you're seeing a picture and image and somebody doesn't react like you would you instantly wanted. I feel like I instantly want to defend it and explain to them and really get it into their brain until they understand but it might just not be that they're at that point in their path to receive it in that way it and that's hard.

Carly Puch

Absolutely. And I've talked about this on the show before but my best friend from when I was eight years old, she is vegan and went vegan when we're in like middle school or something. She was way ahead of the curve. Wow. And I grew up hunting and fishing and eating meat and all those things and you know, we're still best friends. And once I finally became vegan I literally was like, thank you so much for your patience because she's such a kind, compassionate person. And I think I'm just like easier to fly off the handle that I just was like, Oh, I can't imagine if roles were reversed. She was so patient with me. And that's what made me able to ask her questions and talk more to her about it and understand it more. And she would show me things. And it was later that I had that moment. I was like, Oh, I'm trying to pressure people in my life. But my best friend like 20 years has been so patient with me. I think I need to calm down.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

Oh my gosh, yeah, I mean, think about it. going vegan is a compassionate lifestyle towards animals and the environment, yet we're not compassionate towards you know, other humans because they're not going about this at the same speed. We are, huh?

Carly Puch

Yes. Oh, I'm sorry. glad that you are vocalizing this too, because it's a real thing. Hmm, it is a real stage of the journey.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

And I'll blame it on being a Scorpio or being like I had an Italian. But really, there's so many people who I've met that have that have those same moments, because like you said, looking at the person when they're watching the documentary, expecting them to react that scene, just as you did,

Carly Puch

Yes, yes, patience in this movement is so crucial and compassion and compassion for ourselves to ourselves, Grace. Absolutely. I think that is coming back to what we started the conversation with, with our current problems with say, sustainability, during COVID and all of that to give ourselves some grace and kind of figure out different things like you were saying, like, well, we can't do cloth diapers yet, but we can do this and not treat it as an all or nothing.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

Yeah, and that can be challenging. within itself because yeah expect for yourself and have this picture of where you want your life to be. And I wanted it to be all all the way like, Okay tomorrow morning or zero way sustainable no plastics like no single use. And that was so much harder to transition versus going vegan with veganism, I felt like I could just get rid of the food and only buy vegetables if I remember starting to get rid of the plastics in my house. And it was like I started in the kitchen with cleaning products. And then it was like, Oh my god, they're in my bathroom. Oh my god. They're everywhere. Like there was glass everywhere. And I was just thinking, how does anybody do this? And I wanted overnight, and I realized quickly like, Okay, this is gonna take me some time. And it's not about getting rid of plastic necessarily, but making sure that it's not single use.

Carly Puch

Yeah, definitely. And like you said, like, I am a full supporter of okay, go room by room. Or, you know, like look at the bathroom and say, What are my next steps or look at the kitchen and say, What are my next steps or look at the kids or whatever it is. Because if you try to do it all at once, it's so overwhelming and awful that you'll give up.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

It was just this like, huge, like gray cloud over my house. I was like, Oh my god, I'm never going to be able to do this. But over time, I did get it done. And it made me feel better. And yes, we still have plastic in our home. But I try my best to say okay, how can we use this again and again? Or can I give this to a friend or find some sort of use for it?

Carly Puch

I remember at first, I went out to eat somewhere and you know, I'll usually say I don't need a straw in my drink or whatever it is. And I forgot to say that and I thought about that straw while I was falling asleep. You know, like I was laying in bed like I can't believe I didn't say please don't draw that's not healthy.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

No what I'm laughing for is I'm the exact same way, like taunting me for the next 2448 hours. Like, how could you be that way? How could you forget? It's such an easy thing, no straw, or no, I don't want to live on that cup or something so minor, and it will stay with me. Yeah, just like, failure. How did you do that?

Carly Puch

Yes. And now I'm getting into reading about manifesting. And I'm reading the book The Secret if you're familiar with that.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

I haven't read that one.

Carly Puch

Oh, it's so good. And so now I'm like, all this energy work and thinking about that. I'm like, if I'm focusing on the negative what I didn't do, I'm only going to call in more negative situations. Oh, no. What am I doing?

Emilia Frano DeSantis

And then I start stressing about that. And I'm like, stop thinking.

Carly Puch

Yes, it's such a bad cycle. It's really, really bad. So with the two month old Oliver, you said, he's adorable, by the way. Like you say, it's like such a little peanut.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

Oh my God. He's I like I stare at him and I swear, I'm like, I'm gonna break my teeth. I grit my teeth so hard. So I'm just like, Oh, you're so cute. I just want to kiss you.

Carly Puch

So I'm assuming you're planning on raising a vegan baby.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

Definitely.

Carly Puch

What was that research or conversation like? Or like, What is that like thinking about because I know there's a lot of people who are either confused by that or think that's a bad idea, or, you know, just like they think being vegan is bad, but I would love to hear more about your plans for that.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

So, it was definitely not even a thought in my mind. Like, absolutely, you know, we're vegan. Why wouldn't he be vegan as well? But then I mean, I didn't have a very close family members like my mom who would tell me like No, he didn't choose this life. Like don't force it on him but um, at the same time, like well, until he can make these decisions himself, I'm going to do what I feel is best just like any parent would do you know, when they their child.

Carly Puch

Yes.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

Right now we're still going through some breastfeeding challenges where I am not producing the full amount that he needs and he is not able to extract the full amount he needs. us he's having he had tongue tie lip tie and a high palate when he was born well, so we are definitely facing some challenges but I'm not giving up and he's doing really really well with it. But I have you know, we had to supplement with formula for a couple of days in the beginning would you mean broke me and I know it's there's nothing wrong with it. There are so many my friends who were raised on formula they're completely healthy and normal and fine to session in my mind. So I'm doing it perfect. Right? Exactly. There are a ton of formulas out there but there's only like one that is vegan and it's a soy based and the ingredients still I didn't like but we it was the only option. We know it was like he was two days old. And we were really stressing about his weight loss and he wasn't able to feed. And so we had to go that route for a few days. Well, Flash forward to now and I'm still having these issues, but I'm creating a homemade formula that I'm happy with the ingredients below. Bye. But I, you know, so many people will say, oh, how about donor milk from another mother, which I would prefer over the homemade formula? Mm hmm. So many people are like, Oh, this person's not vegan. And they're like, but they have a ton of breast milk. And I'm just like, I'm sorry, I, I have derailed from my original plan for breastfeeding in so many ways. I am not going to go that route. Like that's so interesting. It's not something that I can stomach. I would feel awful if I know that and he had any health concerns that were tied to eating animal products and knowing that I just went that route.

Carly Puch

Mmmm,

Emilia Frano DeSantis

It was I still am being asked about today like, Oh, I have a friend who has a ton of you know, breast milk that they would love to donate, but they're not vegan. And I'm like, I'm sorry. I'm not here for that one. You know?

Carly Puch

You know, they're I didn't even think about that.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

Yeah, it's hard to find, especially I don't know why my area in Virginia Beach, but not many the moms that have the extra breast milk that are local that could do that. Interesting.

Carly Puch

I'm sorry that you're having those issues. That sounds really stressful to have all of that like right at the beginning.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

It definitely is. I mean, I know that it could always be worse, like he's healthy and he's doing great. It's almost like it's my challenge for myself and letting go of those expectations. And lowering that bar that I've put the pressure on myself, because it truly is. It's the pressure I'm putting on myself to be this perfect Zero Waste vegan mom and I mean, I had the same issue when I was pregnant. I was thinking I was gonna be this super fit tiny pregnant mom, and it just totally did not turn out. With my pregnancy, I gained a lot of weight. Totally proved that, you know, notion wrong about, you know, healthy, thin vegan pregnancy. And that was hard for me to stomach. No. And this breastfeeding challenge has been really hard for me, but I feel like it's my own challenge I need to get through for myself, you know, it's just something I need to learn to let go of those expectations. They do nothing but put pressure on me and ruin those experiences that I could just be enjoying.

Carly Puch

Yes. Like you're not focusing on what's actually going on?

Emilia Frano DeSantis

Yeah, instead of, you know, looking at him and being so happy and just enjoying these moments that are going by so quickly. I'm stressing What is wrong with me? Why am I not producing enough? Why am I having to make breast milk? I'm a woman I made to do this, huh? But it is what it is. And I've done my best and I have to just be okay with that and take a few deep breaths and just soak up these moments because they truly are flying by.

Carly Puch

That's such good advice. I have some friends in my life with children, and I feel like that is a conversation that comes up so much is the shaming around doing all those things right or wrong? And really, it's from my outside perspective, it kind of looks like you get shut down no matter what.

Emilia Frano DeSantis 25:28

Yeah, everyone's got their opinions.

Carly Puch

Mm hmm. Definitely. So have you been doing a lot of reading or research about as he goes into the next stages after breast milk about like vegan baby stuff?

Emilia Frano DeSantis

So I know that at six months he can start to incorporate some solid foods. Mm hmm. So I would start with I think it's vegetables over fruit because fruit is such high in sugar. I could be wrong. I'm kind of trying to get my type A personality out of this. But these moments and be a little more relaxed instead of like preparing and planning and good luck you know far ahead because it's just it hasn't been fun in the past I'm trying to just you know, try something new but yeah I can start incorporating solid foods which will be helpful with the breast milk thing because yeah me too much at that point. So I'm excited to start you know, incorporating the foods that we eat, I'm going to do whatever we make for dinner a little bit of that on the side for him obviously not like season because I love spicy food and I can't do that for him. And then I mean, my gosh, I'm just so excited for the day I can make him one of my smoothie bowls like oh.

Carly Puch

Yeah, which by the way on your Instagram, your food looks amazing.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

Thank you. We have my whole family were Italian and I can't count how many restaurants my family owns like different aunts, uncles, cousins. Like that's everybody's career choice is just to open a restaurant. So it's Definitely in our blood to make food look appealing is something I love to do. And I'm just like, please Oliver like my food.

Carly Puch

Well, were you really into cooking and food before going vegan as well?

Emilia Frano DeSantis

Definitely, um, I had, that's how my whole Instagram had started was just showing food and I was like, I don't hear anybody like this. I always loved food photography. And I just thought that was very interesting and beautiful for me. And then some people started to like it. So you know, it was nice to see other people appreciating it and yeah,

Carly Puch

Definitely, well, it looks beautiful.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

Thank you

Carly Puch

And delicious and I'm there's no way he will love it. He won't know anything different.

Emilia Frano DeSantis

That's so true. I know. That's that was something else that was stressing me too. I was like, What if you know, I leave him with a family member because I'm the only vegan in my whole extended family and I always tell them I'm like you know I tell my mom or my sister, your kid or your grandchild eats fruits and vegetables. You can just give them fruits and vegetables and give all over the same thing it doesn't have to be Oh, all of us cousins eating you know chicken nuggets and an ice cream cone and Oliver's just getting you know, like strawberries for things.