Lola Redford and Ilene Goldman: Consumer Action Now

A Plowboy Interview with Lola Redford and Ilene Goldman, founders of the environmental organization Consumer Action Now.

| July/August 1972

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    Ilene Goldman: "We're trying to find alternatives to both the popular junk we all eat and the expensive pseudo-natural foods."
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    Lola Redford: "Just being for trees, fresh air and pure water isn't enough."

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One afternoon almost two years ago, a group of housewives paraded through mid-town Manhattan supermarkets as if reenacting the Boston Tea Party. Instead of dumping tea in the aisles, however, they posted charts which listed detergent phosphate count and denoted environmentally safe and unsafe cleaning powders. It was the first real demonstration of how Consumer Action Now, a new environmental organization, planned on warning the public about the ways in which everyday products affect the welfare of our planet and its inhabitants.  

C.A.N. was founded by two women who became concerned enough by our deteriorating environment to do something about reversing its downward trend. "Just being for trees, fresh air and pure water isn't enough, " reasoned Lola Redford, wife of actor Robert Redford, and Ilene Goldman, wife of author William Goldman. "We're all for ecology but few of us know how to begin living our lives in ecologically sound ways. We need information that will help us distinguish between environmentally good' and 'bad' products so that we can vote for (buy and/or recycle) the good and vote against (not buy or use at all) the bad every day of our lives.  

Lola and Ilene (and 15 other concerned women) set out to gather such pertinent information and distribute it through a newsletter (printed, of course, on recycled paper) that C.A.N. hopes eventually will reach all the buyers in the country. The group also intends to lobby in Washington, open a speaker's bureau and tour on college campuses as they gain strength . . . and they are gaining strength daily.

Which just proves, once again, that one or two people with determination CAN do comething meaningful about the environmental problem. How? Allan Richards visited Lola Redford and Ilene Goldman in C.A.N. 's New York City office to learn the secrets of their success.  

PLOWBOY: What motivated you to start Consumer Action Now? Why did you leave your more or less anonymous and luxurious lives as wives of a famous actor and an accomplished writer to get actively involved with the day-to-day give-and-take between consumers and the environment?

LOLA REDFORD: It actually began with the first Earth Day. I think the event inspired many of us in the city to talk about our environmental feelings and concern. Ilene and I, especially, found that we felt women were helpless to exert meaningful pressure in the marketplace (where it really counts) because information—about how the products we buy affect us and the environment—was being withheld.



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