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! 

No comments:

Post a Comment