Julia Banas’ Environmental Crusade—And The Art Of Self-Awareness


‘Is that your natural color?’ is the first thing I blurt out when I meet Julia Banas. She’s tall (of course) with milky skin like the petals of a rosebud. The hair in question is a deeplike really deeprust, and no, it’s not natural. She was “more of a strawberry blonde,” but I’m pressed to imagine anyone different than the woman standing in front of me. With her toothy grin and irresistible warmth, Banas looks like she grew straight out of the earth.

Julia wears blazer by Acne Studios $750 acnestudios.com, Uma Bralette by Araks $125 at Araks, Maroon 6 Pocket Pant by Telfar $495 available for purchase at Browns, shop.telfar.net, and Dover Street Market, Double Beaumont Earring in Brass by Pamela Love $180pamelalove.com, Certosa Mule by Paul Andrew $695 net-a-porter.com

Julia wears Top See by Chloe, Persephone Earring in Brass by Pamela Love, $200, pamelalove.com

We meet on a Friday morning in January, one of those so-sunny-it-hurts-your-eyes kind of days. There’s coffee brewing on the stove and the expanse of her East Village apartment settles in the acrid, sweet smell of it. The Polish model just moved into the place in December and is brimming with excitement over making it her own. That means outfitting the airy space in everything green as part of her new venture into a completely plastic-free lifestyle. Banas isn’t the first to do this; she follows in the footsteps of waste-free advocates like Lauren Singer and Areta Szpura, both whom she cites as inspirations. But as a woman of influence in one of the most wasteful industries, she has the potential to propel the movement into class action. Though she’s still very much in the process of creating her dream space,  the work-in-progress feels less like a bare canvas and more like a metaphor for her life; I feel that we’ve finally begun to understand that the waste we are producing is not smart. For our future, for our planetthink about what we are going to leave for ourselves. A pile of trash? I want to leave something beautiful rather than that.”

 

Banas’ nurturing presence suggests a maturity well beyond her 22 years. Growing up in rural Poland on her grandparents’ farm, it was only natural that Banas returned to the eco-friendly practices so prevalent in her childhood.

 

Julia banas Model

Julia wears Blazer by Acne Studios $750 acnestudios.com, Deconstruct Hoop in Brass by Pamela Love, $150, pamelalove.com

 

[My grandparents] had chickens, a cute garden and they always had this strong idea that nothing should be wasted because they grew up in a different [time],” she says. “That was something [instilled in] them that I loved and admired.”

 

From an early age, she felt a strong connection to nature and moving to New York only strengthened that. She missed the trees, the grass, and the forests she explored as a girl scout. But what the city’s cold gray concrete lacked, Banas recreated within her own space she filled the shelves and corners of her apartment with lush greenery and chairs made of recycled wood; a deep emerald green (her favorite color) also makes appearances throughout.

Julia wears Blazer by Acne Studios – $750 – acnestudios.com, Dita Pant by Mara Hoffman – $325 – marahoffman.com, Large Beaumont Earring in Silver by Pamela Love – $300 – pamelalove.com

Julia wears Yellow Ribbed Slim Mock Neck Halter Top by Telfar – $195 – available for purchase at Browns, shop.telfar.net, and Dover Street Market , Double Beaumont Earrings in Brass by Pamela Love – $180 – pamelalove.com

Though going plastic-free has been a process for Banas, it all started with one small change. “I remember that moment when I was throwing the trash away in my apartment: I saw all these bottles, plastic bottles, that I had produced in one day and I thought ‘it has to stop,’” she says. Her self-awareness is refreshing, as is her candid way of talking about such a big change in lifestyle. She encourages baby steps and being kind to yourself, understanding that as with any switch in your daily routine, it’s a process. But as intimidating as it may seem to give up something so commonplace as plastic, the impact for Banas has been life-changing. “It’s made my life so much easier,” she continues. “Buying lesswhich is what I do [now] helps on so many levels because I have less stuff around me. I realized that I have so much and I don’t need it. I don’t need it to be happy.”

Julia wears Top See by Chloe, Persephone Earring in Brass by Pamela Love, $200, pamelalove.com

It’s true that one mindful decision leads to another. And from outfitting her home to outfitting herself, her personal style has evolved too. “I think it got better actually because I’m paying more attention to what I’m wearing, instead of just throwing a T-shirt on,” she says with a wild grin, looking down at the weathered top she has on today. “[I’m] buying more vintage clothes. There’s something inspiring about them; someone wore it before, someone bought it for a reason.” Nostalgia seems to have a strong hold on Banas; from memories of her idyllic childhood to the past lives of vintage clothing, her care goes well beyond a surface level. Yet in an industry so centered on an ever-evolving outer appearance, it poses a challenge. “With fashion, it’s [challenging] because I live in this consumer world and I too want to keep buying,” she notes. “In some ways, it’s just about making smarter choices.”

Julia wears Crochet Sweater – $545 – and Knit Skirt – $390- by See by Chloé available for purchase at chloe.com, Persephone Earrings in Brass by Pamela Love – $200 – pamelalove.com

Julia wears Yellow Ribbed Slim Mock Neck Halter Top by Telfar – $195 – available for purchase at Browns, shop.telfar.net, and Dover Street Market , Double Beaumont Earrings in Brass by Pamela Love – $180 – pamelalove.com

She walks me through her favorite plastic-free piecesa Keep cup, a metal straw, and Bee’s wrapwith a Christmas morning level of excitement. I can’t help but feel great admiration for someone so genuinely devoted to a cause. For a moment, this infectious enthusiasm takes over and I have to stop myself from gushing uncontrollably over her wooden cutlery. It’s easy to give into the hypeand fashion especially has a knee-jerk tendency to jump on cultural trendsbut this isn’t that.

Julia wears her own blazer and Large Beaumont Earrings by Pamela Love, $300, pamelalove.com. Sleeveless Blazer Dress in Astral and Flared Trouser in Astral by Eckhaus Latta, Shoes by Vetir Vert.

“[I’m] just a girl who decided at one point in my life that I really wanted to try my best,” she explains. “Of course, I’m failing all the time and I am going to [continue] failing all my life. But the point is that I am trying, and that’s the most important part.”

 

It’s exactly this no-bullshit simplicity that makes Julia Banas oh so desirable. “We start with us, and the world follows,” she posits. I’m in, who’s with me?

 

Credits
Style Devin Hershey Make up Toru Sakanishi Set Design Colin Lytton
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