Each month we will ask a new eco-maven 18 questions about his or her life, occupation and advice for other like-minded people. This month, we spoke with A-List actress, green mom and Co-Founder of The Honest Company, Jessica Alba, about how she tries to live a green lifestyle. Alba’s interest in natural and non-toxic products began when her daughters were born and she began to realize how many toxic ingredients were in everyday products. She co-founded The Honest Company, a line of natural and non-toxic family essentials, with Christopher Gavigan and earlier this year launched her first book, The Honest Life: Living Naturally and True to You.
1. What is your name (and age)?
Jessica Alba, 32
2. What is your occupation?
Co-Founder and President of The Honest Company/Actress/Author/Activist
3. Do you have a “green” memory growing up?
Growing up in Southern California we had droughts, so I have always been eco-minded and aware about conservation. As a family we focused on not wasting water and repurposing every container or bottle we purchased. My mom would skip buying Tupperware, and instead we’d reuse a butter container or glass tomato sauce jar. The foundation that I was taught as a child—not to be wasteful—I apply to my family, with the focus on their health as the number one priority.
4. What’s your favorite meal?
I’m such a foodie and like to think of myself as an amateur chef, so this is an almost impossible question to answer! I have such fond memories of the carnitas tacos my grandmother prepared. I love my mom’s famous lasagna. And now I really enjoy preparing family-style dinners, even if it’s on a Tuesday night, using fresh organic ingredients (we enjoy produce delivery from a local CSA). I’ve perfected making Cornish game hens and roasted butternut squash. In my book The Honest Life, I also share family recipes, many of which are my favorite eats.
5. Who/What inspires you to be more “green” in your life?
While I’ve always strived to live a natural lifestyle, it wasn’t until I had children that I actively educated myself on what we should and shouldn’t consume, bring into our home, and put in and on our bodies. It all came into focus when I was pregnant with my first daughter Honor. I broke out in rashes after using THE “baby-safe” detergent to wash her layette. If I had such a bad allergic reaction, I knew it couldn’t be good for my baby.
So, I read the book Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home by Christopher Gavigan and scoured the Internet and learned about toxic chemicals in everyday products like baby shampoo, diapers, home furnishings, and household cleaners. I was shocked. And, even more frustrating, I would then pay a premium for the supposedly natural alternatives only to get home and find out the eco diapers I just bought still had ingredients in them I was trying to avoid. The few products that were really safer also never seemed to work. To me, it was a social injustice that the average family couldn’t easily find or purchase safe, effective products at a reasonable price. I created The Honest Company (Honest.com) because my mission was to make healthy, non-toxic products accessible to children and families everywhere.
6.Where on the “green scale” do you fall?
Living healthy and “green” doesn’t require an extreme lifestyle overhaul. My approach is more moderate—it’s really about taking baby steps, doing what you can, and finding the eco-friendly alternatives that make the most sense for your family. There are many easy ways you can start to make healthier choices each day, so don’t feel pressure to make the switch all at once.
7. What are the most rewarding and most challenging parts of your job?
Every decision feels like a life or death decision because Honest is still such a new company, but it’s truly rewarding to know that we’re making a difference in the lives of families.
8.Where’s your “greenspot”: food, body care/beauty, oceans, home or neighborhood, explain:
Because the health of my family is my number one priority, I don’t think toxins or untested chemicals have any place in the basics we use every single day—like body care products. Sadly, the chemical industry in the United States is essentially unregulated and there are many untested ingredients in these items—the last major law passed was the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in 1976. Since then, more than 80,000 chemicals have been produced and used in the United States. Over the last the 37 years, the EPA has only required testing on 200 of the 62,000 chemicals that were “grandfathered” in under the TSCA. Only five of those chemicals have been restricted. For example, asbestos isn’t banned in the U.S. and we all know how toxic that is. My partners and I knew we couldn’t wait for this long-overdue regulatory reform to happen (although it’s very needed), so we decided to redefine the family brand and create safe and non-toxic products, especially for children.
9. Where do you turn for your news?
10. What is one environmental change you vow to make in the next year?
11. If you could trade places with one person from any time in history (past or present) for one day—who would it be and why?
My daughter Honor because I think it would be reinvigorating to look at the world through her eyes—children see the magic in the everyday.
12. You have a meeting with the leader of every country in the world. You have 30 seconds to tell them anything you want. Go!
Teaching computer coding should be taught in every school — it is the language of the future.
13. You have the chance to send one tweet to all the tweeps in the world. Let’s hear it in 140 characters, or less!
A small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. ~ #MargaretMead
14. If there was one industry/product that you could make more eco-friendly, what would it be?
Beauty. Unfortunately, a lot of the makeup we use is filled with toxins and many of the eco and natural lines currently available lack the colors, staying power, and effectiveness that we want and expect. I know it’s so much harder to make cosmetics without synthetic ingredients, but it’s one area I would like to explore further and look for safer alternatives.
15. Where in the world would you most like to be right now?
At home with my girls, Honor and Haven. There is nothing better than playing dress-up, doing crafts, and snuggling together.
16. What is the best book you have read recently?
Conscious Capitalism by John Mackey (Co-CEO of Whole Foods Market) and Raj Sisodia.
17. What makes you cringe?
Going to the dentist!
18. What do you want your legacy to be?
My number one goal is to raise thoughtful, grounded, and happy children. As an individual, I want to make the world a better place by changing the way people, businesses, and even governments make impactful decisions related to social goodness, environmental protection, and mindful practices—specifically, eliminating the use of all toxic and untested chemicals in consumer products.