Sarah Bourke

Sarah Bourke

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Conversation About Green Living With Zem Joaquin and Mariel Hemingway

Zem Joaquin, CEO of ecofabulous, and Mariel Hemingway, Actress and Author, stepped on stage today at Dwell on Design to address the issue of green living. These women are inspirations to us all, spearheading the green living movement and advocating the fact that living green is healthy, sustainable, realistic, reasonable, and fun! Here's a brief transcript of the conversation held on stage---truly inspiring words from these wonderful women. This transcript has been shortened, and slightly modified, but please take a few short moments to read what these fabulous ladies have to say about green living. 

Q: Why is green living the way to go?

A: (Zem) There’s no other way to go. My children initially inspired me. The products in my home were hurting my children, both of whom suffered from chronic asthma— so I designed an eco-friendly home. Why would you want a sick home? I used to suffer from chronic bronchitis and haven’t had an episode since I re-designed my home. My children? Haven’t had trouble breathing since. 

A: (Mariel) There’s no other choice but to live a healthy lifestyle and have a healthy home. I grew up in Idaho and have always inherently been an environmentalist. I've always believed that becoming environmental is not too much or too expensive—it’s how I lives my life, there’s no other way to live. Having a home to breathe clean air? Of course. It’s not something you think about doing, you just do it. There should be no separation between a conventional lifestyle and a green, sustainable lifestyle. We need to shift our paradigm of how we live our lives. It’s a life choice, a living choice to live healthily.  The choices you make every day in every way are what are important, no matter who those decisions concern, where you are, etc. 

Q: Is living a sustainable lifestyle so much harder than living unsustainably? What are the little things you can do?

A: (Zem) Start anywhere. Get healthy cleaning supplies—no reason to use gross toxic cleaning supplies, no thaladies, no false fragrances. Using products like Yes to Carrots (Walgreens), Method, Bright Green (Vons/Safeway). Products are everywhere. Get educated, and get inspired. 

A: (Mariel) Recycling. So easy. Skin care—so important. Look at labels—it sounds like it’s a pain in the butt, but if you start to look at your life as an adventure, aren’t you more interested in having a healthier brain? Eliminating toxicity eliminates bad things—helps you think better, feel better. If you realize that this is for your body, your lifestyle, your life, it becomes urgent and it becomes your immediate reality and something you're much more willing to commit your life to. 

Q: What can you do in the home when remodeling your house?

A: (Mariel) Start by asking the question, "What don’t you need?" What can you re-use? Sustainable is to reuse, to recycle, to be conscientious. Be creative. Look at things from a perspective where you can make something in your home, for example, cool that’s also in connection with nature.

Q: What can you do to influence people as celebrities?

A (Mariel): It’s an opportunity to show that these lifestyles, these green lifestyles, are reasonable and totally realistic. Having a sense of peace in the home is so important and such a product of living a healthy, green lifestyle. And... there’s a quality of lifestyle associated with a do-able, realistic, simple, responsible and conscientious living. Living a lifestyle with choices that everyone can make? It’s all doable within us, within every individual. Getting out there and talking about living green, as celebrities, is a really great thing. My boyfriend and I are launching The WillingWay( -- with tips and information on green lifestyle options, a website for possibilities.

Q: Tell me more about Healthy Child, Healthy World

A: (Zem) Healthy Child, Healthy World is committed to giving families information on providing their children with healthier resources. This organization is at the forefront on how to resolve health issues for children—what are best products, foods, sustainable seafood, very focused on children. Creating a toxic-free environment. A fun and exciting thing to find more products and new exciting information. Products are enriching. I want people to get out there and be healthier and happier. Because it's fun!

Q: What are the obstacles that people run up against, in trying to become greener?

A: (Mirel) People think to themselves... "I can’t save the rainforest" like living green is this big environmental issue. When you start thinking that your environment is your kitchen: you can handle that—different light bulbs, recycle, shop local, go to the farmers market. Living a green lifestyle is so not about the bigger pictures, about the big-time environmental issues. For the average person it all begins at home. Instead of going outside and joining the Al Gore movement to save the earth, you can take care of your OWN environment. This generation is about coming together as an environment, as a community, and working together. We have to start thinking community-wise, it would benefit the environment positively. My advice? Change one thing in your eating habit: start with changing one meal, whether that's buying breakfast from the farmers market, eating organic, becoming a veggie. You’ll feel better over small doses, over periods of time. How we learn is by making small changes, repetition, and making conscious decisions. Start small, use patterns, repetition. So, try it. Change one thing: change your breakfast.

A: (Zem) You don’t have to give up everything, but you also don’t have to do everything at once. If you don’t wanna be a veggie, you can just do veggie on the weekends. My husband and I are flexitarians—at home we're veggie, when we go out we are far more open to trying things. You may start with weekends being healthier, and want to start doing weekdays. We do have to think about the things beyond us. It’s fun! This can be fun. Bill McDonough spoke last night, from Cradle to Cradle. He’s my inspiration. I read his work, and I finally had a framework. It’s so important to have a framework: Weekday veggie, cleaning supplies, anything-- a foundation, a vernacular. You need to be able to communicate. Cradle to Cradle distills this theory: on how to live this kind of lifestyle: how are things made, where do they go when you’re done with that product. As designers, you can’t design something that can’t be reused. Launched a design institute with designers who are much more conscience of how you design.  We have a positives list for the first time! What is actually good. What chemicals are safe, what aren’t. CDC Certification is fabulous. 

Q: Take home messages? 

Mariel: Zem is a pioneer of what she’s doing and she makes it fun! People need to understand that it is fun—I talk about laughter, about health and wellness. The home is very important to me: being happy, being healthy, it’s our choice, our birthright, it’s about knowing and giving yourself permission to be healthy and wonderful. Make your life fun, your adventure, and remember that it’s all a discovery, a big experience.

Zem: One thing I would say is that you can come through the Modern Living Showhouse by ecofabulous and feel what it feels like to live with these products and feel wonderful. We really want you to have the tools (why its eco, why its fabulous, where to get it). 

What inspiring words!

Both women were so well spoken and such great speakers. More to come soon! 

A Few New Favorites!

A Few New Favorites Found: Dwell on Design, Los Angeles

Although it’s been some time since I last posted, I’ve kept myself busy in the first few fabulous weeks of summer. As I continue to intern with Ecofabulous in San Francisco and Marin County, we’ve spent months and months preparing for this year’s Dwell on Design Exposition, a Home Expo and Design Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center June 24, 2011 through June 26, 2011. I’ve been here the past three days and it’s insanity over here every day at the Ecofabulous-designed Modern Living Showhouse featuring pieceHomes, The Green Showhouse at Dwell. Thursday was non-stop work from 12:00 pm when I arrived at the LACC to set up until 12:00 am when we finally put the finishing touches on the interior of the house.

Michela O’Connor Abrams, President and Publisher of Dwell Magazine, says of the home, “The MODERN LIVING Showhouse is a fantastic, innovative example of a highly-functional, beautiful, and affordable execution of residential design using reclaimed and sustainable materials. This is what happens when creativity and good design work together for the greater good of the environment.” Zem Joaquin is the good design. Jonathan Davis is the architectural creativity. pieceHomes teamed up with Ecofabulous to create one of the most eco, sustainable, fabulous houses I’ve ever laid eyes on. Ecofabulous also teamed up with the O Organics, as well as the Bright Green lines at Safeway to stock the eco-clad cupboards of the house and the product display tables. An estimated 20,000 people are showing up this weekend here at Dwell on Design, and I’m looking forward to the rest of today as well as tomorrow.

When I landed at LAX Thursday afternoon one of the girls on the Ecofabulous team picked me up, at which point we drove straight to Vons (a branch of Safeway) to clean out the store’s O Organics line for the Modern Living Showhouse. For under $500.00 we managed to purchase almost every single product in the store for the house—Safeway, Vons, and The Pavillion not only carry an entire organic line in each of their stores, but the products are dispersed throughout the entire store on every aisle, accessible to all with a Baby, Toddlers, and Kids line, and cheap! There are hundreds of O Organics products in every Safeway/Vons store in the country, and I highly recommend stopping by one of the grocery stores one day and checking out the products—they’re all 97% organic or more, healthy, and delicious!
We loaded all of the O Organics store-bought items into the Ecofabulous Prius (which was a sight to see!) and headed over to the Los Angeles Convention Center. We unloaded all the groceries, curated the kitchen cabinets and stocked the fridge, and got right to work setting up for opening day less than 24 hours away.

Since I’ve been at the show working 14-hour days, I’ve found a few new favorites here in Los Angeles. The list is long, but take a look—the products are fabulous!

HD Buttercup (San Francisco and Los Angeles)
Sage Vaughn, Artist (Gluten Free Recipes!)
 Peppermint Magazine (Australia)

Modern Living by ecofabulous featuring pieceHomes, Dwell on Design 2011

REPORTING LIVE from Dwell on Design 2011, Los Angeles!

For more information on all products featured in house, visit:

·      Energy-saving kitchen appliances with European heritage from Electrolux ICON
·      Water-saving and stylish laundry appliances from Electrolux
·      Kitchen stocked with O Organics products
·      Bright Green cleaning line made with naturally derived and biodegradable ingredients
·      Cutting edge FSC certified bio-composite exterior cladding material from EcoClad
·      Precision windows and doors from Western Window Systems
·      MechoShade Cradle to Cradle Certified solar shadecloths
·      Stylish and eco-friendly real cork floors from Wicanders
·      A selection of high-end sustainable, repurposed and vintage furniture from HD Buttercup
·      100% natural rubber latex mattress and pillows from Organic Mattresses, Inc. (OMI)
·      IceStone sustainable countertop made from 100% recycled glass and concrete
·      Eco-friendly cabinets by Neil Kelly featuring rapidly renewable Plyboo material
·      Closet styled by eco-fashion pioneer Linda Loudermilk
·      Lumens LED lighting technology in a variety of sophisticated forms
·      Beautiful recycled class tile and recycled content grout from Modwalls
·      Caroma leading high-efficiency, dual flush toilet and bathroom sink
·      Environmentally sensitive and water-efficient faucets and fixtures from Brizo
·      Sustainable landscaping by Shades of Green 
·      Brought to you by: Electrolux ICONO Organics, Bright Green
·      Being auctioned off on eBay starting July 6th up until July 15th
·      All proceeds of auction go towards Global Green USA, an environmental non-profit

Links, Pictures, and More Coming Soon. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Don't Leave your Father's Day Gift to the Last Minute This Year

Struggling to find a Father's Day gift for the beach-going, water-loving, outdoorsy type? Consider your problem solved-- meet Riz Smith, British brainchild of surfer and swim wear line Riz Boardshorts.

These boardies are crafted from 100% recycled and recyclable polyester. These shorts are digitally printed using water-based, earth-friendly inks. What's even cooler? Riz's shorts can be returned, recycled, and reintroduced back into the loop through the company's "Rizzcycling" program! When your dad is ready for his next pair, he can send his old ones back to be recycled into new polyester yarn.

But wait, there's more... Riz Boardshorts are dedicated to protecting the world and simultaneously giving back-- the first 1% of profits are donated to Surfers Against Sewage, a gallant UK based non profit organization that campaigns for cleaner coastlines.

This Father's Day feel good about giving your dad a present he'll not only love, but one that gives back to the environment. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Reflecting On the First Week of Internships

It’s been a week. So… What is Green? What is Eco? Environmentally Conscious? Sustainable?

They’re buzzwords: words that simultaneously excite and fatigue, disenchant and intrigue.

            Before I started my internship, I knew next to nothing about “green.” I simply knew that I wanted to learn. The people I know in my life who are leading greener, more sustainable lifestyles were inspiring. And not just because it sounded cool. They were not only healthier and more active, but they were also far more thoughtful, passionate, and interesting than those people I know who cared very little about the environment. The people who we think of as green and sustainable are really passionate, active, healthy people who care about themselves, their families, and the environment. When it comes to the environment, I really don’t think that old saying “Ignorance is bliss” applies. The ignorant need to become aware that they are not only citizens of whatever country they’re from, but also citizens of the world, citizens of the environment: citizens of a world which so many inhabit and so few truly think and care about.  
Me? I’ve always been an outdoorsy person. I’m very active, love the fresh air and being outside. I love nature, I love the environment, and I love to learn about it; however, I’ve always felt like I haven’t known enough. I’ve never considered myself “green” or “environmentally-conscious” because, well, I wasn’t. Sure, I recycle and try to conserve water by turning the faucet off while I brush my teeth, but I always felt so superficial doing only those things. The funny thing is, I’ve never been that great at science in school. Chemistry, for example? Totally stumped me. I even struggled in my environmental science class my freshman year of high school. I mean I really struggled. But I found it incredibly interesting. So interesting that, even though I struggle in the sciences, I’ve declared Environmental Studies as my major going into college. Why? Because I want to learn. I want to be able to explain to people how important the environment is and how necessary it is for people to take the time to learn and educate themselves and those around them about the pressing, imminent nature of so many environmental issues. I want to be the first domino that falls deeply, deeply in love with the environment and all the issues surrounding it. I want to fall so hard that I knock someone else out, and the next person falls head over heels in love with the environment, and so on and so fourth. After all, that’s really how I came to love the environment so much—it’s all about passion. My parents both have a deep respect for the environment. My freshman year environmental science teacher is extremely passionate about it. High school peers of mine fell in love with the environment some time ago. The environment is something I love learning about, love thinking about, and love talking about. So, call this an internship of passion—passion for learning, for thinking, and for understanding one of the most precious, inspiring facets of life that exists: nature.

Awareness about E-Waste Benefit Gala 5.16.2011

Last night I made my way into the rainy city of San Francisco to attend the Awareness about E-Waste Benefit Gala for a few reasons-- to learn all about E-Waste (Electronic Waste) and support Afia President and Designer Meghan Sebold, whose launch party I attended in New York City a week or so ago. The Benefit Gala took place in Henry Denton's Starlight Room of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. It was a beautiful event dedicated to informing people about the harmful impact electronic devices have if not recycled properly. The event benefited local non-profits who are in the electronic recycling business, and/or do educational outreach about e-waste. The evening featured keynote speakers, members from San Francisco's political forefront, a few celebrities, and as I mentioned before, Afia Designer Meghan Sebold. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and learned all about E-waste and how to recycle electronics more effectively and efficiently. More pictures of the evening to come soon!

I had the luxury of borrowing Zem Joaquin's gorgeous pink eco gown for the night's affair. I've been working at Ecofabulous for just over a week now and I'm loving it. Having been offered a full-time summer internship with the company, I'm starting to learn the ins and outs of everything. The team of girls here at Ecofabulous is amazing, and I'm starting to really get the hang of things. My first task has been to round-up all of the products we'll be featuring weekly on Zem's List, a list of five or so products that Founder Zem Joaquin highly recommends for viewers on a weekly basis. Look forward to this week's Zem's List all about eco, fabulous office supplies. 

Please: Check Out and Like Ecofabulous on Facebook 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Afia Launch Party 5.5.2011: Conscious Culture and Fashion

Last night, fellow Ecouterrian Kestrel and I took an early evening stroll down Rivington Avenue to go check out the Afia Launch Party in Soho of New York City. Thank god I brought a camera, because the Afia Spring/Summer 2011 Collection was so much more than I could have predicted. This fair-trade, environmentally conscious fashion collection debuted at Guilded on Bowery. 

The Spring/Summer 2011 collection is bold, beautiful, and incredibly original. Principal designer Meghan Sebold wore a gorgeous, floor length dress she designed created out of traditional West African textiles by pattern makers in Chicago and NYC in partnership with the fair trade Dzidefo Women's Cooperative in Ghana. Meaghan's intricate, unmatchable designs are genius, and totally wearable anywhere this spring or summer--big city, small beach town, etc. 

I loved the line so much that I went back to Guilded earlier this afternoon and picked up an Afia dress for myself (see picture below)! An essential item for the warm California summer sun ahead. 

Check out the Ecouterre article on Afia, and please check out Afia on Facebook! The line is absolutely gorgeous. Pictures from the event to come soon--stay tuned.