Recent Henderson State University graduate Jessica Clifton has taken her mission of sustainable living to social media, garnering more than 79 thousand followers. Her Instagram account (@impactforgood) addresses the process of living sustainably on a daily basis – offering advice, how-tos, product reviews and pieces of personal experience. In addition to Instagram, Clifton has expanded Impact For Good’s presence through the creation of a website (www.impactforgood.co) and a TikTok account.
Clifton’s journey to desiring a “simple and sustainable” life journey began at a young age.
“My uncle was a marine biologist, and when I was younger, I would spend my summers at Sea Camp in Mississippi,” Clifton said. “I would learn about sharks and dolphins and travel to islands and stuff every summer for six or seven years. I was obsessed with the ocean all throughout my life.
“Since I did that, I always had a passion for things like hiking and going to national parks – being outside really. This whole time I figured that since I loved the planet, that was enough. I was doing my part.”
As she got older, she began to notice more issues, such as pollution in the ocean. Clifton studied marketing in college, which allowed her to start paying more attention to the individual power of consumers on the environment. During her junior year, she watched The Story of Stuff, a shorted documentaryby Annie Leopard. This was the beginning of a dramatic shift in Clifton’s perspective. No longer did she believe loving the planet was enough for her; she had to do more.
First, Clifton began to make a shift in her personal life. Starting small, she slowly began to cut plastic out of her life, switching to bamboo toothbrushes, straws and produce bags. She also began to fight against fast fashion, the term used for inexpensive clothing made with a rapid mass-market production. Because of this, Clifton has branded herself on her social media as an “outfit repeater.” However, these were just the first steps of many.
“One example of a major step for me was when I changed the way I ate,” she said. “I try to buy local, and I try to eat plant-based. I’m trying to make my diet align with my values, and that has been a huge shift – I used to be like every other Southern who eats meat three times a day.”
In the fall of 2018, Clifton had the idea to combine her passion for living sustainably with her marketing education by creating her online business and social media presence, Impact For Good. Since then, her account has gained tens of thousands of followers and is now her full-time job.
“I think it was so successful because I was relatable,” Clifton said. “I was learning as I went, and so it was kind of like I was taking my followers on this journey with me.”
As a job, running Impact For Good has become a major task. Clifton runs her accounts personally, regularly updating her blog and posting every day. On her website, she sells eco-friendly products such as the popular Dot Menstrual Cup, bamboo toothbrushes and reusable produce bags. She works with a manager to connect with marketing campaigns and other environmental companies and influencers, even working with clients such as American Express.
“Last year, American Express did a campaign where they took plastic out of the oceans and made credit cards out of it,” Clifton said. “I was a part of that campaign to help promote what they were doing.”
Clifton recognizes the daunting task at hand. With how big the world is and how many people must choose to live a lifestyle that is healthy to the planet, the fight for sustainable lifestyles can be overwhelming. However, Clifton referenced the fact that the Oxford 2019 Word of the Year was “climate change,” proving to her that the conversation is present and the issue is known. As for those looking to begin their journey to taking care of the planet, Clifton has one piece of advice.
“Celebrate the small wins,” Clifton said. “If you decide to bring your coffee cup to a coffee shop and not use a plastic one, that’s awesome. You’re reducing so much waste. Be so, so proud of that. I think people get overwhelmed with how much needs to be done, but they just need to be celebrating every single win they have. That is what’s important.”