Loving the Eco-Life

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Photo By Carranza Collective/Courtesy Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stillthedudeabides/159420378/
Actress and environmental activist Daryl Hannah participates in a candlelight vigil to support the South Central urban farm in L.A.

Known for her roles in blockbuster movies such as Kill Bill and Splash, actress Daryl Hannah is also an environmental activist and the founder of dhlovelife, a website filled with environmental news, tips and products. Hannah also hosts the video blog series lovelife, in which she explores global sustainability and demonstrates fun ways to go green. In 2006, Hannah made news by chaining herself to a walnut tree to protest the demolition of a Los Angeles urban farm. Last year, she told big oil companies to clean up contamination in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest.

What inspired you to start dhovelife?

I was trying to get off the grid and overhaul my lifestyle so it was more in harmony with my ethics–it was quite difficult to find reliable information and access to goods and services. So I had the thought to create the portal I wished existed. The video aspect was originally meant to be a television program highlighting inspirational stories and easy-to-assimilate solutions. However, I wasn’t comfortable with the constraints the networks wanted to put on subject matters or their advertising partners. When I learned about video blogging, I realized it was the perfect outlet to get the information out without censorship. I make weekly 5-minute pieces. Animal, humanitarian and environmental concerns are all interconnected, so I cover everything from biofuels to vegan junk food. It has been so much fun to make, and great meeting amazing people and experiencing and learning all these wonderful things.

You sell goods on your website. What eco-standards do they have to meet?

The goods we recommend and offer on DH Love Life are things I use and love. They also must be vegan, nontoxic, biodegradable, preferably recycled or at least recyclable, extremely useful, long-lasting, fun and have minimal packaging. Eventually I want to offer my top picks of everything from toothpaste to windmills.

You encourage people to shop locally. Do you have tips for local shopping?

For food, farmer’s markets, of course! They are getting very popular all over the U.S. The produce at farmer’s markets must be picked within 100 miles and 24 hours so the nutrients are still intact. It’s fun to meet your farmers and know where your food comes from. Many farmers will even invite you to visit their farms. Farmer’s markets also cut out the middleman, which can be very helpful to your pocketbook!

Check for co-ops in your area, too, as they usually have better selections and prices, or join a CSA (community-supported agriculture) program. So many of the problematic issues we are facing can be addressed by re-examining our value systems and aligning our lifestyles with them. A good guideline is to stick to essentials.

What inspired you to build a green home?

Common sense–who wants to live in a toxic box?

Over 150 chemicals found in the average home have been linked to allergies, birth defects, cancer and psychological abnormalities. Contaminants found in many household and personal-care products can cause dizziness, nausea, allergic reactions, eye, skin and respiratory tract irritations–and some cause cancer, according to the American Lung Association. Over the last 20 to 30 years, as more toxic chemicals have been introduced in greater amounts, the level of toxins stored in our bodies has risen. Bioaccumulation studies have shown that some toxins are stored in our bodies for life. Once you know these things, you don’t go back.

I didn’t build my home from scratch, though–I just restored an old structure with found and recycled, nontoxic materials.

What are your favorite aspects of your green home?

I love that it was built on a human scale. It’s small, but still open and airy. I love the moss deck and the living couch.

What is the first thing that homeowners should do to green their homes?

Step one is to get the poisons out: the stuff that cleans your dishes, clothes, floors, windows and body-care products. Get rid of anything other than nontoxic, biodegradable options. If you’re choosing the healthiest option for yourself and loved ones, it is usually the healthiest thing for the environment, as well.

You drive a biodiesel El Camino. Do you prefer biodiesel to hybrids?

I’m all for kicking our petroleum addiction. I like sustainable biodiesel (that means from waste grease or a local organic crop). There’s no petroleum needed and no wars necessary. I helped found an organization called the Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance (SBA) to help certify and identify sustainably sourced, harvested and produced biodiesel.
Electric cars powered by solar and/or wind are the way to go, though, especially with the new nontoxic battery technology.

What are you growing in your garden?

A little of everything: corn, collard greens, passion fruit, blueberries, potatoes, rhubarb, onions, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, grapefruit, apples, oranges, lemons, plums, pomegranates, persimmons and various lettuces. Unfortunately, the ground squirrels already got my artichokes!

How can people’s eating habits make a difference?

In every way! Eating habits not only affect our health, but all natural systems. For example, because of overfishing, destructive fishing practices and loss of habitat, we have wiped out 90 percent of the big fish in the planet’s oceans in just the last 50 years. 90 percent!!!! Coral reefs are bleaching out and dying, and the oceans are trending toward acidification. Maybe we should give them a break? Aside from the inhumane practices, the livestock industry generates more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation combined. I highly recommend reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Penguin, 2007) to get a more thorough understanding of what a huge impact food choices have on everything!

How can we convince skeptics that global warming is real?

If the world’s leading scientists sounding the alarm and an international scientific panel report doesn’t convince people, I couldn’t say, but I also don’t think it’s necessary. People seem to wait until there’s a crisis to make big changes. Well, we have some crises going on. There are incentives to make healthier decisions all around us. The economic crisis naturally begins the process of shedding excessive purchasing. Seeing our kids coming home in body bags from war should give us the goad to get off our dependence on foreign oil, and while we’re at it, how about getting off finite fossil fuels altogether–and onto infinite renewable forms of energy, like wind and solar. The obesity and diabetes epidemic is teaching us that maybe things that come in a box or wrapped in plastic aren’t food. Food grows on trees or in the ground.

How can people who are concerned about animal rights, humanitarianism and the environment make a difference?

Everyone can use their own set of talents to inform and inspire! Living by your beliefs and sharing information are the most powerful tools we all have to help create a more ethical, beautiful world…and don’t be shy, voice yourself and show up to lend your support to the voiceless.

Daryl  Hannah’s favorite things

• Meadows 

• Trees

• Wildlife

• Hot springs