Interview by Christian Feuerstein ’94
Katy Wolk-Stanley is a labor and delivery nurse and a mother of two, but has made a splash blogging as “The Non-Consumer Advocate.” Recently featured on the Today Show, Wolk-Stanley is interested in helping “people learn to live on less, and to do so in a way that lessens their environmental impact.” In between blogging at thenonconsumeradvocate.com, she spoke with us about finding her own little niche, having instant connections with other Antiochians, and the environmental and human rights impact of cheap consumer goods.
How did you first hear of Antioch? What was your major?
My sister (Jessica Wolk-Stanley ’88) went there! She’s two years older than I am. There was a friend of ours, who was a year ahead of her, who was going there. I didn’t have a major—I didn’t know what I wanted to study.
Who were some of your favorite professors? Favorite classes?
Karen Shirley, Pat Linn, Dan Friedman. There were classes that I still think about, because it wasn’t just a teacher giving us a textbook. I found it really interesting that so many people have gone on to many successful careers after Antioch, and I think that teaching style is a part of it.
What are some of your favorite memories of being on campus?
I loved those brunches on the weekend, when the Caf actually had orange juice. I met a lot of life-long friends at Antioch—my friend Kiernan, we’ll be friends ‘til the day we die, even though we’ve never lived in the same place. I met my husband there, too!
When you meet people who’ve been to Antioch, you have an instant connection. Out here, there’s a nurse I usually work with, as well as my sons’ middle school language arts teacher. You meet up with people and you have this like-mindedness. I got more of a connection with Antioch than I ever did with University of New Mexico.
What was your favorite co-op?
Going through Mexico. I did a co-op in Chicago for a summer—a day camp through the Northwestern University settlement house, working with these kids who wouldn’t have had another place to go.
Do you have any advice for the current Antioch students?
Find the area that you’re particularly passionate about—find your little niche.
Your blog’s motto, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” is very pre-WWII.
It’s an old Yankee saying. It got put on a lot of posters during WWII. I get, “my Depression-era mother said that all the time!”
Tell us about your blog, the Non-Consumer Advocate.
For me, I’m interested in consumer issues and forced waste. It’s amazing to me that our grocery stores will only sell perfect fruit—no curved cucumbers or a straight banana. [Regarding consumerism] In America, when we had unsafe working conditions in our factories, we had a revolution with unions. Now, American manufacturers are saying, “It’s too expensive” to make goods in the U.S., so they’ve brought those problems overseas. There was a fire in Bangladesh a few years ago where they [the workers] were locked inside the building—shades of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. Those workers were making clothes for the Gap, Macy’s, JC Penney, Wal-Mart, and others. I buy used, I buy American, I buy from manufacturers who certify their safe labor practices. It’s a human rights issue.