Archives for November 2013

Meet The Big List of Things That Suck

book coverFrom a very young age, I talked the green talk. I grew up going to pow-wows and taking cross-country trips to the Badlands—my father was a professor at UCLA whose specialty is Native American literature. My nickname in college was, embarrassingly, Flower. But like many, my eco-focus stopped at water conservation and recycling. I bought conventional cleaning products because that’s what my family had always used—even though I saw the “natural” cleaners on the same shelf, I wrote their claims off as marketing rather than turning over the bottles and comparing ingredients.

I didn’t really make the connection between the environmental impact of how I lived until 2006, when I met Christopher Gavigan at Healthy Child, Healthy World (he went on to found The Honest Company with Jessica Alba). I was nine months pregnant with my third child, and we met to talk about my helping with publicity and marketing efforts for the organization once the baby was born.

Women are responsible for 85% of the buying decisions in a household. What we spend our money on matters.

We sat in Christopher’s no-VOC painted office filled with oxygen-emitting plants and as he explained his mission I basically had a panic attack. Then I went home and got rid of my toxic chemical cleaning products. But there was a missing link in our conversation: Basically the problem was that Christopher isn’t a girl. He didn’t wonder about the health implications of hair dye and nail polish; he didn’t covet the latest It Bag.

So I started doing my own research. And I quickly realized how much of an impact what I bought for myself and my family could have on the environment—and the marketplace. Women are responsible for 85% of the buying decisions in a household. What we spend our money on matters.

As I learned more, I started applying this knowledge to my life. I wrote about eco-beauty for women’s magazines—and found it increasingly more difficult to write about conventional alternatives. I was asked to create a marketing campaign for a major denim label—and turned it down when I learned that takes an astounding one-third of a pound of toxic fertilizer to make one cotton t-shirt (keep that visual in mind the next time you go shopping).

How could I promote this stuff, with what I knew? That’s when I started The Big List of Things That Suck.

[Read more…]

Mommy Greenest Approved: Quiet Home Paints

can of paint in front of fuzzy background roomFor years, my kids have been begging us to repaint their rooms. Seems that bright blue and green don’t exactly reflect their teen spirit. But I know too much about VOCs to take that task lightly.

Commonly known as VOCs, “volatile organic compounds” are toxic chemicals that release into the air over time. VOCs are found in paint, among other things; VOCs have been linked to asthma and allergies.  And even paints marketed as “low-” or “no-VOC” can still contain as much as five grams per liter of these chemicals.

But when I learned about Quiet Home Paints I started prepping the rollers. These paints are truly VOC free—they contain zero grams per liter—and totally non-toxic. [Read more…]

Finding Philanthropy: Giving Tuesday

giving tuesday adThe advent of Giving Tuesday has made me re-examine my family’s views towards philanthropy. The event, which takes place this year on December 3rd, inspires people to think beyond Black Friday and Cyber Monday in terms of giving to get, and shifts the focus towards giving to give.

I didn’t experience a strong tradition of giving in childhood. I think it might be because my family didn’t follow an organized religion. Or maybe it was because my dad was so busy raising me by himself that he didn’t stop to think about the character-building opportunities of soup kitchen visits or packing backpacks for disadvantaged children. [Read more…]