THINK GREEN! An interview with Willa Stoutenbeek – Sweet Magazin

THINK GREEN! An interview with Willa Stoutenbeek

Willa Stoutenbeek is an Amsterdam based founder and communications specialist with a heart for sustainable, innovative brand concepts. We talked to her about her views on fashion, environmentalism and the challenges of the future.

Interview: Sweet Communication

Dear Willa, you are the founder of W.Green, a communication agency based in Amsterdam with a key focus on ethics & aesthetics. How did it all start?

After working in fashion for over 10 years (and growing up with two parents in fashion) I couldn’t identify with the industry any longer. I loved the creative and innovative part of the industry but had a growing issue with the superficiality and problematic back end of the fashion industry. I initially turned to the NGO world, but soon found out that that wasn’t for me either. I came from a fast paced fashion world and didn’t feel comfortable in the slow paced bureaucratic environment of Nonprofits. In 2010 I decided to marry my two biggest passions: ethics & aesthetics. W.Green was born.

Has sustainability always been a central pillar at W.Green?

Yes, it has been and still is. But since a few years we’ve shifted more towards intersectional environmentalism. When I first entered the sustainable world I was a bit confused by how white and male dominated this part of the industry was. I grew up with friends from all types of backgrounds and walks of life, I feel diversity in every sense of the word makes things richer. I was missing so many perspectives in the field of sustainability. It felt very elitist and as the years passed by it started to annoy me more and more. The challenges we are facing as humanity are too big for just a small group of white people to tackle. We need different voices, a range of perspectives and the majority on board to secure a livable future for all.

What does sustainability mean to you personally?

It means respecting all living beings and that also includes the natural world. 

What’s your greatest personal effort to support climate protection? 

I try to integrate it in every choice I make, small and big. I am in no sense perfect and I never claim to be, but I am always aware of the choices I make and how it impacts the environment and eventually humanity. I dedicate my career to it and I try to inspire my direct and indirect environment to make aware choices but also believe the biggest responsibility lies with (big) corporations and governments. 

What was your last eco-sin?

Multiple … There’s always room for improvement but I also think we should move away from shaming individuals for this. That doesn’t have an inclusive effect. I’d rather focus on inspiring people than telling them off.

Part of why we end up throwing so much away is associated with our desires and our habits. What needs to change there?

We are addicted to this system. 10 years ago, I would’ve told you: Do more with less. Or quoting Vivienne Westwood: Buy less, choose well, make it last. And that’s absolutely true. But I’m also starting to lose faith a little bit. I think we need a deep and heavy crisis to sprout new ideas and what we truly need is systemic change!

What have you argued about most in your life?

Hahahaha … what not? 

What was the last new thing you learnt?

That we need more people (including me) to be active listeners:

Being an active listener means you have the awareness that when it comes to effective communication, both parties cannot be the speaker at the same time. Being an active listener means making the choice not to speak, not to contribute your opinion, not to defend your perspective or belief, and not to offer solutions or suggestions for change in service of first fully understanding the speaker.  (Source:

What should you be praised for?

I don’t think I get to decide this. Maybe for fully living? 

What are your goals for the future?

More quality time with family and loved ones.