Monday, December 19, 2011

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Green Light- Todra

An eco-sista whos says it's important to think about the planet and our health

How long have you been eco-friendly? That's a hard question as it sort of happened in stages over perhaps a decade. I started with eating organic, and lots of local foods. Then I began recycling. And buying about 25% of my wardrobe at high end consignment shops instead of 100% new. I searched for products made in sustainable manners, etc. It was little by little. As for being really aware about eco from a beauty perspective, it's been about five years now.

Why did you choose to be eco-friendly? It's so important that we have the mindset to think about the future of our planet and our health. We can't continue to throw things into landfills, pollute our oceans, add crazy chemicals to our foods, hide toxins in beauty products and wreck the climate without consequences. I am appalled at selfish people who could care less about anything but the here and now. I don't want to be one of those people.

What do you like about it? I like that I am a conscious consumer. I like that I am forced to think about my actions instead of simply focusing on what I want and how it makes my life convenient. I think the natural inclination for most humans is to focus on ourselves. It seems to be a human flaw. When we have something that we believe in, like living consciously, it challenges that tendency. And hopefully, we choose the right decision more times than the wrong.

I also like meeting others who are eco aware. I volunteered on a straw bale building project in Virginia and the people I met there knew so much more than I did about conserving energy in the home and making conscious choices. I came away with a whole new perspective on home design and energy choices. It was amazing.

Did you face any challenges? If so, what was/is the biggest obstacle(s)? I suppose the biggest obstacle is location. Some towns/cities in the US could care less about anything green. And when you talk to the people around you about it, they roll their eyes. I'm from New York City, but when I moved to a small city in Pennsylvania, I remember telling a maintenance guy at my church that they should recycle. His response was, "Oh, that's not required in this township." I said they should do it anyway. He said, "It's too hard to get people to do that." This was simply recycling. In my opinion, the first and easiest step in "going green" and they were unwilling. But in Southern California, everyone I  know is very aware of living green and making eco choices. New Yorkers tend to care, as well. It can be hard to find organic foods or fair trade/sustainable items outside of major cities. And sometimes ordering from the Internet is costly. I now live in Philadelphia and it's great. Lots of awareness and plenty of choices.

 Any tips/advice for someone looking to be more eco-friendly? I'd say learn all the different ways that you can choose to live more consciously and decide what you can do right this moment to change a portion of your life. If recycling would be easiest for you, then do that first. Taking a reusable cloth bag to the grocery store instead of accepting plastic or paper is pretty easy. I store my bags in my car trunk so I always have them. Bags are about $1.00 each at grocery stores, or you can opt for a fancier bag from a specialty shop. Either way, it's a step in the right direction. Bring your own coffee mug to the coffee shop or ask for a glass mug and take a moment to sit and enjoy your brew instead of dashing out the door with a paper cup.
Don't think you have to do big, showy things, or change everything at once. And if some part of the equation is cost prohibitive for you, don't give up on the whole thing. Do what you can. Every little bit counts. Some great books to get you started: Green, Greener, Greenest by Lori Bongiorno. True Green by Kim McKay and Jenny Bonnin. I own both of these and they're great.

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 feel that way sometimes? I don't feel like a hypocrite because I really do believe every bit counts. And I do what I can with what my resources are. There are some parts of the eco movement that are about being trendy and hip, which is cute. I mean who doesn't want a chic little designer dress made with organic hemp and sustainable dyes, etc? But I can't pay $500 every time I want a new dress. The same with urban chic refurbished furniture from green companies - so freaking expensive! I can't buy into that whole thing. I want to stop using plastic food storage bags altogether and I found a great company that makes an amazing product that breathes around your food and keeps it fresh without any plastic. The product is hand-made. But a reusable sandwich bag costs $15. I'd need about 20 of those things with the way I cook and store food. I understand that in the long run, I'd be saving money, but goodness, it's a challenge up front. So again, I do what I can in ways that work for me. I use only a few plastic bags here and there, but I mainly store food in glass jars I recycle from groceries. I buy consignment store dresses and sometimes refinish my own furniture or swap with friends for a new look. And of course, sometimes I break down and buy something new because I adore the item. And that's okay sometimes, too.

You know I gotta ask, How long have you been natural and how do you keep it so FLY?
I have had natural hair for a little more than 15 years. I can't imagine ever going back to the creamy crack. It's not even a part of my mindset now. I use only natural products, which is important to me. I don't understand why someone steps away from the chemical relaxers only to use toxic styling products. I'm lucky to get boxes and boxes of free organic beauty products through my company, The Healthy Beauty Project and because I am a contributing beauty editor for Kiwi Magazine. So I've probably tried every natural hair and beauty product you could name. But many times, I just use simple things found in my kitchen to take care of my hair. It seems to be working okay, so I'm happy. I have an ebook coming out in February that will contain a lot of info on taking care of kinky and curly hair textures using all natural and organic products/recipes. It'll be available at my site and on Amazon. I'll send you a complimentary copy.

Is there anything you like to add? Thanks for the feature. And please come check out my green beauty resource network, There are hundreds of green beauty enthusiasts there who help each other find great products and learn to switch to a greener lifestyle!


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