Wednesday, October 27, 2010

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Green Light- Jennae

An eco-designer who makes green living look so good.

How long have you been eco-friendly?
My passion for green living came about around the same time as the idea for my blog, so about 2 and a half years ago. We honestly started small, by learning to recycle and learning about the chemicals in common household and personal care products that we should avoid. We changed our shopping habits slowly so we could afford to buy safer products, started using reusable shopping bags, shopped less and reused more, etc. Slowly, my perspective on what was important in life began to shift, and I completely stopped being a serial consumer. Now, I try to buy stuff only when I need it, rather than when I want it (though I do occasionally slip up), and I am very conscious of what I bring into my home, where it came from, what it's made of, and what I can do with it once it's no longer useful for its intended purpose. This means I pay attention to everything from food packaging to fabrics, hair products and more.

How long have you been designing? What inspired you to design?
I got into graphic design in college 8 years ago when I worked as an editor at one of the two newspapers on campus. I soon realized I loved it more than I did my major (journalism), and I've been doing it ever since. But I'm not just a lover of graphic design — I love design in general. I also have a huge passion for interior design, and I have to say that HGTV had a large part in that. I would spend hours and hours watching decorating and design shows, and I even invested in 3d software that allowed me to design virtual rooms from scratch. My blog, Green Your Decor, has allowed me to combine my passions for interior design, graphic design and the environment in a way that also helps others. And the t-shirt line my husband and I recently started, is a further extension of my love for design in a completely different way.

I heart your T-shirt designs. Where do you get your inspirations from?
I can't take all the credit for the designs. A lot of the ideas also come from my husband, or a collaboration between the two of us. But all of the designs honestly come from the things we love and come across in everyday life. The natural hair shirts were my idea, and they all stem from my own hair journey over the past 2 years. I love the fact that the online natural hair community is so incredibly strong and helpful, and the shirts are my way of giving back to the community that has given me so much. I'm proud of my hair, and I'm not afraid to say that to anyone who might question my decision, and I know lots of other ladies feel the same way. I wanted the tee designs to reflect that.

Can you explain the concept of Green Your Decor?
Green Your Decor is the manifestation of my love for decorating and my curiosity about all things eco-friendly. The idea came to me at a time when I didn't know a whole lot about green living, and I was investigating more about it. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. And because I was also passionate about design, it only seemed natural to write about those two things. My goal with the site is to prove that green design doesn't have to be boring, or frumpy, or even expensive. With a little creativity and a lot of consciousness, we can all make our homes — and by extension, our lives — more sustainable. Rather than telling my readers what to do, I show my them what I'm doing, and that it's easy for them to do the same.

Going green can be complex, this discourages a lot of people. There's really no "right" way. It's basically trying to do something than nothing at all. I sometimes feel like a green hypocrite. Do you get that feeling sometimes?
Absolutely! I remember when I first started my blog, I used to think all the time that I wouldn't want anyone to come to my home and see all the things we were doing that weren't green at all. I would forget my reusable shopping bags and bring home tons of plastic ones, or my husband would bring home toxic cleaning products because he forgot to look at the ingredients first. The changes we made were definitely gradual. I hate to sound cliche, but Rome wasn't built in a day. We have been socialized over our entire lives to shop, shop, shop and buy, buy, buy the latest in thing, and that an item's value is determined by its convenience, regardless of whether it creates waste or contains toxins that could harm us. It takes a while to shift to a new way of thinking.
But I will say this: What kept me going was my curiosity. Once you learn that there's formaldehyde in your favorite bath products for your baby, there's no pretending you don't know. Once you learn that indoor air quality tends to be a whole lot worse than outdoor air quality because of all the junk in furniture and other items you bring into your home, it's only natural to want to try to reverse that.

Any tips/advice for someone looking to be more eco-friendly?
The key is just to start. Even if you start with turning off a light when you leave a room or taking shorter showers, once you understand WHY you're doing these things, you'll want to do more and more. Before you know it, you'll be making a bigger impact than you ever thought possible. It only takes one push to get a ball rolling down a hill.

You know I gotta ask, How long haven you been natural and how do you keep it so FLY?
First, thank you! Now to answer your question. Because of my journey to a greener lifestyle, I had been struggling for months with the creamy crack. I knew it wasn't good for my hair, but it was all I knew. My hair had been relaxed since I was in elementary school, and I was so afraid that I wouldn't know how to deal with it. But at the end of the day, my conscience won. I couldn't keep preaching about living a greener lifestyle if I was going to be slathering my hair in toxins every two months. So I just straight up decided I wasn't going to do it anymore, no matter what my texture looked like.
I started my transition in January '09, and never looked back. My big chop was in October '09. I really have a low-maintenance routine, mostly because I'm I co-wash (with just conditioner, no shampoo) every 1-2 weeks, depending on how long my style lasts. My go-to style is a twist out. I'll usually detangle in the shower and twist right after, and leave the twists in for a day or two before my twist out. When the curls aren't popping the way I want them to anymore, I'll pull it back into a puff with bangs or try pinning it back with hairpins and barrettes until it's time to wash again. Really easy. I sleep on a satin pillowcase to help keep my ends in check and to stop my hair from drying out too easily.
My favorite products are Oyin Handmade Honey Hemp Conditioner, Bee Mine Bee Hold Curly Butter, & Kinky Curly Knot Today and Curl Custard. Other than that, I just make my own mixtures of oils, Aloe Vera Juice and water to refresh every day. More than anything else, it just feels great to know that my hair is happy — just the way God made it, without the help (if you can call it help) of chemicals. And damn anyone who doesn't agree with

Is there anything you like to add?
Green living is NOT about buying all the latest green products, or even about trying something just because someone told you it's green. It's honestly just about a consciousness of the Earth and its inhabitants, and doing things to help preserve the planet for future generations. That can mean using safer products that won't harm you or your family, or keeping your current cell phone if it's still working great, rather than having to buy the latest fancy gadget just because you want it.
And in case anyone is interested, you can check out:
Green Your Decor:
Green & Gorgeous (my second blog, about all things eco-friendly and fabulous, and where I usually write about my hair):
Guillotine Co. (my line of organic cotton & natural hair t-shirts):
Hibiscus Creative (my graphic design firm):
Thanks so much for the interview!


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