{Interview} Johonna K of Little Green Moments

January 10th, 2013 | Posted by skirsner in Uncategorized

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage…hopefully it’s an eco-friendly, lead and BPA-free carriage! Today my interview is with the founder of the blog, “Little Green Moments,” a practical guide to raising a toxin-free, happy & healthy family. This blog is a valuable resource for everyone, not just those with kids.

When did you start Little Green Moments (LGM)?

We launched October 29th, 2012, right before the November election.

Why did you start LGM?

I started LGM to provide a forum to share important information with friends and community around practical ways to live a non-toxic lifestyle; everything ranging from an organic and non-GMO diet, to reducing exposure to household, environmental, and digital toxins. I wanted one place to marry green and eco-friendly living with non-toxic living (essentially, what’s best for the environment and what’s best for our children).

When I was pregnant with my first child, I became hyperaware of what I was putting into my body and what long term effects my choices in diet would have on this baby. I started researching the health effects of exposure to plastics (BPA and phthalates), pesticides, hormones (rBGH), antibiotics, mercury in fish, and other neurotoxins on pregnant and nursing women.  The knowledge I gleaned prompted gradual behavioral change; I began to overhaul my lifestyle. Two years later, pregnant with my second child, I took it even further to research how my lifestyle choices would affect this baby; seemingly mundane choices such as which shampoo, sunscreen, linens, paint, carpet, mattresses, and even which nail polish to use. I dug deeper and found astounding results. This also came on the heels of the November 2012 election and CA’s Prop 37, which would require labeling of Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs), something I was strongly in favor of. Once I had gathered all of this information, I felt a responsibility to share it and to help to get the word out;  especially, since companies like Monsanto and Dupont were pouring millions of dollars into negative ad campaigns providing consumers with misinformation around the value of labeling our food and making our own choices for our families. I believe there is a strong correlation between all of these chemicals, endocrine disruptors and toxins we are exposed to (many, in utero) and the growing cases of ADHD, asthma, autism, obesity, cancer, and early onset of puberty. I wanted to shout it out from the top of a mountain with a megaphone. I felt a sense of urgency.

The general acceptance and tolerance of these toxins is so ingrained into the fabric of our society that it will take many years to first recognize, then unwind, and ultimately try to fix. I’m not going to wait. Undoubtedly, we have a long way to go. Politicians don’t touch this stuff. Media barely does. And so I wrote my first post.  It was a piece on GMOs and I wanted to get the conversation going. I wanted to educate, but keep it approachable. I didn’t want to preach or proselytize, but rather connect with my readers and earn their trust as a source of credible information. It can be a fine line and I felt a grave sense of responsibility to provide extremely accurate, well-cited, non-emotional, scientific data.  We were (are) living a non-toxic lifestyle in a non-toxic house (after a remodel using as many green and eco-friendly options as possible), started raising chickens for organic farm-fresh eggs, and eating primarily fresh, unprocessed, organic, local, and seasonal food.  And the blog was launched. I want to inspire our readers to make at least ONE digestible change, and then maybe another…after all, it is called, “Little Green Moments” and not “Little Green All Of The Time.”

Who are your major environmental “heroes” or influences?

My Dad. Through years of annual backpacking trips in the Sierras, he instilled a strong foundation for me to appreciate and love being outdoors and in the mountains, and the importance of nurturing our planet. Growing up, he would always (and still does) save important newspaper clippings for me with relevant environmental topics. He’s a Prius-driving environmentalist through and through. We grew up in a household that recycled, re-used, and reduced.

My 2.5 year old and 8 month old daughters. They inspire me everyday to maintain a non-toxic home and life. I continue to hone my cooking skills for them and to provide clean and chemical-free meals.

My husband, an avid fly fisherman whose love of the outdoors is unparalleled, is also an influence. I continue to hone my cooking skills also for him as well (and he has a very discerning palate, so this is a fun challenge!).

Ken Cook, President of the Environmental Working Group is an invaluable source of information.

Robyn O’Brien, author of “The Unhealthy Truth”– a true crusader in the food revolution.

What’s the one major thing that people can do to help make their homes/lives “safer” (environment-wise)?

It’s hard, if not impossible, to distill it down to only one change. It’s all of the small (and, of course, large) bite-size changes that we can make in our lifestyle and homes that have cumulative long-term effects on our health. There are many factors at play. I would advise starting with reducing or eliminating exposure to endocrine disruptors (found in plastics, sunscreens, shampoo, pesticides, etc.). Endocrine disruptors are synthetic chemicals that are absorbed into the body and mimic hormones, which can disrupt the body’s normal functions. Start small: pledge to no longer drink out of disposable plastic water bottles. You help the environment and avoid ingesting BPA (an endocrine disruptor) that has been leached into the water from the plastic bottle.  LGM has a Non-Toxic Diet Guide and a Non-Toxic Household Guide that provide 20 suggestions to start getting chemicals out of your daily life.

How do you constantly come up with new information?

I read everyday. I have a backlog of at least 20 topics that I want to write about, so there is no shortage of information, only a shortage of time and sleep! I process information when I’m out on hikes or while I’m in the shower. At this time in my life, those are really the only times my mind is free to wander and really think through things.

What blogs do you read?

Environblog.org (Environmental Working Group)
Healthychild.org (Healthy Child Healthy World)
ourhealthandenvironment.wordpress.com (The Collaborative on the Health and Environment)
Robynobrien.com (Robyn O’Brien)
Momsclearairforce.org (Moms Clear Air Force)
blog.saferchemicals.org (Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families)
chej.org/backyard-talk/ (Center for Health, Environment & Justice)

Did you always care about the environment and worry about toxic living?

I have always cared about the environment, from a very young age, again thanks to my dad. But being an environmentalist doesn’t always equate to clean and non-toxic living. You can use reusable grocery bags, backpack in the mountains without leaving anything behind but footprints, use a governor in your shower to conserve water, and drive an electric car, but that won’t protect you from arsenic in rice, neurotoxins in your apples, hormone disruptors in your sunscreen, or lead in your balsamic vinegar. These are things you have to research for yourself, become aware of, and take action to protect your family. Rarely does a doctor tell a pregnant woman to avoid these chemicals, even though they have been definitively linked to adverse health effects in babies and small children.  Many of these toxic chemicals are found in newborns and in breast milk.

Taking care of our environment and taking care of our health and the health of our children are not always part and parcel, although there is often an overlap.  I have always had a general “awareness” of non-toxic living, but nothing powerful enough to drive a consistent change in my behavior (what I ate or the products I used) until I had children and until two people extremely close to me developed cancer. Boom. Something had to change. In my early twenties, I had a roommate who only ate organic food; and, although I always gave her a nod of appreciation and listened to her rationale (seemed cogent enough), I never felt compelled to follow suit. I didn’t yet have the internal motivating factors needed to initiate change. She was far ahead of the game; and I simply thought she was “alternative” and that it just didn’t quite fit my lifestyle, or budget for that matter. A lot of it also comes down to your support system and the people you surround yourself with. If non-toxic living is high on their priority list too, it’s incredibly helpful to have your immediate community all singing from the same song sheet; think: organic and clean food dinner parties!

You have two kids under 3 yrs old– how do you find the time to research and write?

In all honesty, it wasn’t an ideal time to take on a new project.  We have an infant, a super active toddler, and two chickens. There are endless house projects in sight, I cook 98% of our meals at home, and there are many competing priorities throughout each day. However, when you’re passionate about something, you somehow make time.  It’s tricky since I don’t want to take away precious time from my children and I’m cognizant about not having them always see me on my computer or looking at my phone (it’s all about parental modeling, right?). When I’m with them, I’m focused on them and we’re typically outside playing, reading, cooking, or cuddling and phones are out of sight.  Undivided attention is invaluable and it’s easy to be a “distracted” parent with so much technology and “stuff to do.” Early morning, naps, during some post-nap independent play, or after we put the girls to bed are really the only times I have to write, which doesn’t leave a tremendous amount of time, since I also like to enjoy a glass of wine and catch-up time with my husband (and go to bed with a clean house).  At times, I’m not able to open my computer for days; and that’s okay. If I do serendipitously find a chunk of time, and the dishwasher has already been emptied, I’ll try to write a few posts to have in a queue. My sister, Maya, is also a contributing author from Washington D.C. and provides thoughtful content and delicious recipes. If I find an interesting blog post that someone else has written, I will try to synthesize it, add some editorial, and then post it under the author’s name. Information is information and although I’m discriminating in my sources, I don’t need to claim credit for empowering information.  The whole point is to get more people talking about this important topic and to ignite real change in Washington.

What does 2013 hold for LGM?

Since the blog is still in its infancy, I have simple wishes for 2013 – content, content, content. I would like to see a steady and consistent stream of informative and well-researched (and validated) content that makes it easy for pregnant women and new moms to make practical changes to their lifestyles. Most importantly, I want to get to know our readers to understand where people need the most support in creating healthier, non-toxic homes and to help empower our readers to facilitate change. A green revolution is brewing.

Don’t forget to follow LGM on Facebook and Twitter!

 

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