What started off as a desire to produce less quickly turned into a lifestyle for FGCU student Carly Bergman. With sustainability at the forefront of the campus, Bergman, with the help of her business partner/boyfriend, hopes to expand her mission of living a zero-waste lifestyle.
Sustainability is a central component to FGCU’s vision, mission and guiding principles, and Bergman tries to instill this into her daily activities. However, this mission was not an overnight process as one would imagine.
A life changing trip, and meeting a man who shares the same values allowed Bergman to effortlessly transfer into a healthy lifestyle ultimately becoming more aware of the plastic we consume.
“My boyfriend Brenden and I have created a zero-waste brand called Sustainable Duo where we plan to change the way of modern consumerism,” said Bergman. “We started our zero-waste journey after I returned from an eco-volunteer trip in Nicaragua. I was astounded by the amount of plastic along their coasts and was even more shocked to learn that majority of the trash on their coasts comes from other countries due to the direction of the wave currents. I was inspired to refuse and reduce plastic waste the entire month of my stay, bringing all of my trash back with me to the United States. After this trip, I decided to take action.”
For Fitzgerald, this lifestyle was born from a documentary on Netflix. This would eventually change his entire life.
“Bored, I decided to throw on Netflix, and went right to Cowspiracy and Vegucated,” said Brenden Fitzgerald. “I was stunned and appalled upon learning what the impact my every day habits had on the environment. At that moment I went vegan overnight. I dove head first, trying to reduce my impact on the world. With little information and less support, I struggled to make the changes. With a background in the Marine Corps and an ongoing dedication to fitness, I found that nothing I could grab and go with satisfied my needs.”
Fast forward to today, this eco power-couple, known as the Sustainable Duo, is now spreading their wealth of knowledge to others who are interested in turning to a more sustainable lifestyle or sharing the same passion.
With a combined period of seven years being vegan, the couple thought it only made sense to transition to a low-impact lifestyle. One day deciding to begin their journey, they knew immediately that this transition aligned perfectly with their morals.
What stemmed from Fitzgerald’s vegan protein company, Planet Protein, the couple created the Sustainable Duo to be a lifestyle brand.
Noticing that there are companies that provide eco-friendly products, the sustainable duo partnered with these companies and started their own zero-waste kit.
Along with the kits, the couple also provides e-books that offer tips on how to live a low-impact, plant-based lifestyle and consultation for those who want to transition to a zero-waste lifestyle.
“Sustainable Duo created Zero-Waste Survival Kits for this very reason and the idea has received much support,” said Bergman. “We source zero-waste items from companies and organize starter kits for people who are wanting to implement sustainable habits but do not know where to start.”
The couple has already begun traveling more with Fitzgerald’s vegan business, gathering a following along the way who are interested in the intersection of ethical living and veganism/zero-waste.
Understanding that in this culture it is impossible to be 100% zero-waste, the Duo’s goal is to be as ethical and morally consistent as possible.
By speaking on vegan business, zero-waste business, and shifting businesses to zero-waste, the couple has already impacted hundreds if not thousands of people to live by their motto: “We exist to make a positive impact on minds, hearts, and the planet. We are just going back to the basics by living ethically and minimally.”