1. How did you first become interested in green living?
To put my husband through graduate school I waitressed at night and tried to do art during the day. Here came the event that changed my life: There was a gas leak at the restaurant where I worked and it sent 80 people to the hospital. I got what they said was permanent central nervous system damage, although this was 1980 and nobody knew quite what or how to diagnose such a thing. The next thing that happened was that our apartment building was exterminated with a pesticide that is taken off the market because it was so neurotoxic. Given my gas injury, this did me in, at the time. We know now that I had classic organophosphate pesticide poisoning, but back then I was treated psychiatrically. I drove myself to Yale New Haven Psychiatric, asked them to find out what had happened to me. They couldn’t figure me out. Atypical manic depression? Ultimately, thanks to a sister who is a bio-chemist who had trust in me and my mental health, I ultimately was delivered to the care of one of the first environmental medicine MDs in the world, Dr. Leo Galland, and they just happened to be in New Haven. My body was wildly over-reactive to chemicals, and there became the seed of my work. I figured out how to live in our society without chemicals, as my body had an unerring demand for clean air. Once I organized my life to have that, i was like a wilted plant who just needed water, and I popped right back and blessedly became well enough to have a baby, and my daughter Lily was born about a year later.
After she was born I needed to figure out how to work at home (due to my chemical sensitivity) and I started a wall where I put post-its with ideas. Maybe this was the painter in me, but I worked on the post-its on this wall for months, while tending to my beautiful daughter. One day (around Earth Day, 1989) while watching The Today Show, Meryl Streep and Wendy Gordon Rockefeller came on and talked about alar on apples and their fear for their children. Of course, I resonated, and that was one of the seeds that led my wall of post-its to increasingly lead towards starting a clearing house of info for nontoxic living. My concerns had long since broadened from worries about my personal health, to want a healthier environment for my daughter, etc. We were coming up to Earth Day 1990 by then my work hit a vein. The next thing I knew I had my first book published (the first time “clean” and “green” were put in the same sentence) and it became a best-seller. I’ve written four books since then, one even with Wendy Gordon with Meryl Streep writing the forward! I’ve worked on periodicals and books for the last 23 years, all in this field. I’ve started a website called TerraSpheres.com.
2. You write in your book, “Home Enlightenment,” about the “Precautionary Principle” in regards to products. Can you please elaborate on it?
I believe strongly that products shouldn’t be put on the market until they are proven safe – this follows the Precautionary Principle. Currently, many products in the US are put on the market until they are proven unsafe, and then they are taken off after often causing great harm.
3. You have been dubbed the foremost guru in green living by Body & Soul magazine and many others. How do you feel about that moniker?
I feel I really know how to live a green lifestyle because I have to. To me green means something has to be good for both the environment and health, so since I carry that belief system, I am happy to be honored for it.
4. Do you still feel just as passionate about educating people about natural living?
Yes – but with TerraSpheres I am broadening my wings to include global transformation in many areas. And, have you seen things change significantly? Yes- there are significant changes – huge and monumental—in the changes to the mainstream organic/nontoxic product arena.
5. Please talk about your 6th sense or intuition about a space? How can people develop this type of intuition within themselves?
One way might be to do chakra-clearing yoga or meditation.
6. How did you learn so much about chemicals and their effect on the environment?
Research, working with a sister who is a biochemist, and her husband, a chemist, reading a lot of blogs, keeping up with AboveTheFold newsletter, that type of thing.
7. You write a great deal about noticing the little things in life, particularly those things that pertain to nature. Why do you think this is so important? And, how can you maintain consistency?
I have trouble with this myself. Trying to stay grounded in my body, my heart center, instead of my head as much as possible.
8. You’ve written 5 best-selling books. Do you have any other books on the horizon?
Yes! I am working on Wall-to-Wall Wellness!
9. In addition to your writing, you’re involved in many projects. You’re the editor-in-chief for The Wellness Wire, you have partnered with renowned doctor, Deepak Chopra , on a featured blog on the Huffington Post and you’re running 3 websites. How are you able to find peace and balance while juggling all of these projects?
This is a constant struggle. I just decided this morning I wasn’t going to start “working” on anything until 10am and leave the time before that to myself for exercise, walks, etc.
10. Many people think it’s too difficult to be green. They don’t want to take the time to recycle or use products that are not available at major chain stores. What would you say to them?
It’s their health and our planet. Make their choice.
11. “Being green” can sometimes seem to be relegated to the fringes on either side of the socio-economic spectrum. One the one hand, you have the super-rich/super- famous individuals who can afford organic/green everything… and on the other side are “minimalist” hemp-wearing hippies. Is there any room for a “mainstream green” and how can this be accomplished?
Yes, without a doubt. I am a mainstream green in terms of being middle class, and have led a nontoxic life for 30 years.
12. Your daughter is a singer. Did she find that natural/green living was helpful to her in maintaining good health and staying emotionally grounded while pursuing her singing goals?
Yes – in fact she now thrives on the lifestyle! Despite times growing up when she felt very resentful of having to do things like put nail polish on outside, she is now very grateful.
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