Author and renowned consumer advocate, Debra Lynn Dadd, has been a pioneer in everything green, natural, and healthy for over two decades. Culminating from her many years of research and analysis are seven books and a comprehensive website overflowing with the greenest of green data and nearly 1,000 links to websites that sell green products. She is a master in her field and has been crowned “The Queen of Green” by the NY Times. Here Debra talks about her new book, “Really Green,” a simple guide that takes the hype out of today’s sizzling green market and presents her creation: the very first green standard not based on the technical and financial sights of green business, but , to quote her, “…that which is inspired by the wisdom of Nature.”
Q: Debra, I’ve read your new book Really Green and I found it to be intelligent, informative and inspiring, yet very simple to read. And, I came away simply feeling good about myself and my own efforts to go green. Through your book, I was given a new understanding of what more I could do to benefit health and the environment. Tell us what your book is about.
A: I am in contact with people every day who want to live green-they want to do the right thing. In talking with them, I realized that most people don’t know the basics of green. I could talk about recycling, for example, but they don’t know the difference between the word “recycled” and the word “recyclable.” They don’t know that recycled refers to the material used in a product and recyclable indicates that they can recycle the product. The most common question I am asked is “How do I know if this product is really green?”
My book, Really Green, is the answer to this question. It covers all the basics anyone needs to know to tell the difference between products with real environmental and health benefits and those with misleading green hype. It covers everything from defining biodegradable to how to identify greenwashing. But most importantly, it outlines the basic principles that define green products, so anyone can have confidence they can recognize a green product when they see one.
Everyone I show this book to wants it. They say, “Thank you for writing this book! We need this!”
Q: So, tell the world what “green” really means?
A: In the broadest sense, green includes any product, service, or activity that is supportive of life, both human and otherwise. So this would include everything from helping the environment to human health and social issues. “Green” is the umbrella that encompasses everything in these fields, including organic, recycled, biodegradable, fair trade, and other life-supporting practices.
Q: By what do we measure green? Is there a standard for what is really green?
A: Well, actually there is a green standard. It doesn’t have to be just opinion. Life itself is making green products every day-apples, trees, butterflies…. All we need to do is look at nature to see that a green product would be made from resources that are rapidly renewable, taken sustainably, made with efficient use of resources, locally produced, and other practical guidelines. There can be no more solid and true foundation for what constitutes a green product. Yet there are also various shades of green. A product doesn’t have to be 100% green to make a difference. Every small step is worth taking.
Q: Some think even the smallest green steps are too expensive. Don’t green products cost more?
A: When I was choosing a printer for Really Green, I thought I would have to strike a balance between the price of the book and the shade of green. I wanted to keep the price under $ 10. But by staying firm to my green integrity, I found a printer who could print the books on 100% post-consumer recycled paper with nontoxic inks (and wind power, too!) for the same price per book as virgin paper, toxic ink, and fossil fuel energy. So I’ve learned that green products don’t always have to cost more.
Q: What excited me the most about your book was to learn that I am not this thing called a “consumer.” I got that the one thing that is important in the green movement is that we simply come back to being human. How can we become more human in living and less consumer?
A: Our whole consumer identity of having our lives revolve around the buying of things is not our natural state. We don’t have to buy our lives, we can live our lives. Consumers rely on others to provide for them, as humans we can think for ourselves, feel for ourselves, create for ourselves, and act from caring about the well-being of all life. We can cook our own dinners, tend our gardens, learn healing arts, and entertain each other. It’s about remembering we have our own ideas and skills and abilities and taking joy in using them.
Q: Finally, with all the years you’ve been an advocate for health and the environment, why did you choose to write this book now?
A: Actually, quite suddenly, I felt a new urgency-we all need to go green right now! This past winter I spent some time in San Francisco, where I lived for most of my life. Amazingly, in December, the camellias were blooming, the fruit trees were blossoming, and the fields were yellow with mustard flowers. None of these things are supposed to happen until February. I was walking in Golden Gate Park and I saw this cherry tree in bloom. “What is this?!!?!” I was shocked. I lived in Northern California for 47 years and I know when the flowers bloom. I have never seen these flowers out of season. The earth is changing. I can see it with my own eyes in my own life.
This is more than a book to me–it’s a mission. I feel called to do this at the deepest level of my being. The Earth is calling all of us.
Really Green by Debra Lynn Dadd can be ordered online at http://www.dld123.com/reallygreen
Joyce White is a writer and the founder of Wordistry, a company that provides a variety of support services to writers.