Monday, May 19, 2008

Gorgeously Green by Sophie Uliano

When my husband came home with energy saving light bulbs a few years ago, my friend laughed because she thought he was cheap. Who’s laughing now? One of the easiest no brainer things to do to save energy is to switch out the light bulbs. What began as a way to save on our energy bill became a very popular way to conserve energy. My kids know not to let water run while they brush their teeth and to not waste anything. We all recycle and have been doing so for years. I think I'm on the right path to becoming “green”.

Sophie Uliano’s book, Gorgeously Green, is a down-to-earth, friendly book offering loads of eco-friendly tips and ideas. This is not only an inspiring read but a fun one too. With all the talk of saving the earth and becoming environmentally aware, I strongly hope we as a country are shifting our awareness and realizing how important it is to make wise choices, conserve what we can and treat this earth with respect.

Sophie seems like a fun person, a gentle spirit and a kind soul. I hope to meet her someday, after all, with both have daughters named Lola, (my girl is a Great Dane) live in Southern California, love beauty products and yoga. Seriously, what better basis for friendship? Gorgeously Green has a permanent place on my bookshelf and I plan to refer back to it again and again. I can't want to see what else Sophie comes up with! Buy the book, implement the ideas and live green!

What is the #1 thing we can all do to live Gorgeously Green?

The #1 thing we can all do is to sit down and think about one powerful change that you can make in your life today. For some people, this may be to start composting their food waste, for others it may mean buying a bicycle and using it for one of the many short car trips you take a day. If you live in a big city, it may be that you will commit to taking a reusable coffee mug to the coffee shop from now on. Tell your friends and family about the one change you have decided to make, so they can call you out on it! This one change will, I promise, not only inspire others around you, but it will also act as a springboard for many other changes that you will wind up making.

What made you decide to put this excellent book together?

I was a little overwhelmed and confused about the amount of information there was out there when I first started researching eco-friendly living. Once you start digging, it’s an endless tunnel! I also found that eco-tips tend to go in one ear and out the other, so I wanted to distill all this incredibly useful information down into 8 simple steps that any woman can follow regardless of her circumstances. I also wanted to reassure women that they can still be gorgeous while being green – yes nails, hair salon and fancy shoes are all part of the deal!

Although I’ve interviewed several authors who have been on Oprah, I have yet to meet her. So please tell me the details of your visit on Oprah’s show! How was she? Were you nervous?

Oprah was quite wonderful. She has an amazing energy about her that literally sets the studio ablaze – it’s infectious! Oprah is so down-to-earth and human that she puts you at ease immediately. I was very nervous: as a first-time author, it seemed almost surreal to be walking onto that stage, however, Julia Roberts and Oprah are old-hands at this kind of stuff, so I felt very taken care of. Julia is a very calming presence too.

I love the fact that here in the United States we are very aware of environmental issues. But what about the rest of the world, places like China and India where they may not have the resources to make positive changes?

Most people can make positive changes, regardless of their resources. Going Green doesn’t mean you have to have the resources to buy solar and hybrid cars, it simply means finding a way of living where you are using up less of the planet’s finite resources. In this way, it often means saving money: recycling, reusing and reducing are actions that everyone can take. I think the larger issue is that countries such as China and India are not far behind us in becoming mega-consumer nations. What’s most important is that China and the U.S. get with the program in terms of signing the Kyoto agreement etc and stop pointing the finger at each other. This is a global problem- we all share the same air. You got me going now!!

What kind of indulgences do you allow yourself?

Too many actually! I indulge in fantastic food because I LOVE eating and cooking, so I always indulge in the best ingredients I can find. I love getting my nails done and I indulge in clothes and shoe shopping every once in a while, however, I’ve stopped buying cheap inexpensive and often badly made clothes. Instead I shop less and save up for one or two pieces that have been made with great care. Oh and maybe once a week, when it’s chilly, I’ll run a nice hot bath and add essential oils. I am well aware that it is a 20- gallon indulgence that I feel horribly guilty about.

Do you live a strictly “green” life? In what areas do you find the biggest challenge?

I live as green a life as I possibly can, but I’m not extreme. I eat meat, shop for fun things, wear designer shoes etc, however, I am mindful that most everything I do doesn’t have too much of a negative impact on the environment. I shop consciously, eschewing as much packaging as I can and making sure that all living beings were treated fairly.

I think the biggest challenge for me is driving less. I live in Los Angeles, where everything is spaced quite far apart. I am trying to keep everything local: my daughter’s school, her play dates, where we shop, where we go out to eat. I also try to walk or cycle anyway that is within a two- mile radius of my home.

Do you drive a Prius? How can people switch to fuel- efficient cars when they are so expensive?

I drive a Toyota Highlander Hybrid. I love it as it’s pretty fuel-efficient and does a great job of carting my daughter and her friends to the beach with all the requisite beach supplies! I don’t, however, think you need to go the hybrid route to save gas. There are plenty of small, very fuel-efficient cars on the market. One of the greatest gas-saving tips is to ALWAYS drive below the speed limit. I have a gauge on my hybrid that shows me exactly how much gas I’m using and when I put my foot on the pedal (if I’m in a hurry), it suddenly starts guzzling. So my driving habits are now safer and more cost-effective.

If every person reading this interview vowed to make a few simple changes in their lifestyle to become “Gorgeously Green.” What kind of an impact could we make on the environment?

Huge impact, because it’s not just the people reading this interview. When you make a positive change, it affects everyone around you and soon they too will inspire others.

Think of your change as a pebble in a pond – it will make ripples that will get bigger and bigger. Yesterday, at a book signing, a girl traveled two hours to come up and meet me and buy books for her friends. She dragged along a reticent boyfriend and 3 other foot-dragging girls. She bought them all a book. I was so touched by her commitment to try to get these young people to become conscious. Kudos to her.

I had dinner at someone’s house recently and as shocked that they didn’t recycle! What’s a nice, tactful way to strongly hint that they should toss those cans and bottles into the recycle bin?

I just start helping and then innocently ask “where is your recycling bin please” and if they say they haven’t got one, I innocently ask if there is anything I can do to help them get set up. I try to never to judge (or pretend not to), as I want to encourage, rather than alienate people.

What is your favorite way to relax on a weekend?

I just love to chill out on the weekends with my husband and daughter. We just hang around and laugh and play and I’ll bicycle to the farmer’s market and get all the veggies for the week. Most Sunday evenings, we grill a bunch of veggies out on the grill and sit outside with a bit of Bob Marley playing and a chilled bottle of organic wine – heaven!

Do you read? Who are your favorite authors?

I eat books! I adore reading. Recently I have read books by Barbara Kingsolver, Scott Spencer, Maya Angelou and dozens of environmental books!

What are your future plans and goals? And what will we see you doing in five years from now?

I am about to start working on my next book (I’ll keep you posted!), I am also working on a line of Gorgeously Green home and beauty products and there are a number of television projects in the pipeline. Five years from now, I will hopefully have another three books out on the shelves. I’m passionate about writing and have many ideas. Technology is going to have changed so much in 5 years time that I’m not sure virally what will be happening, however, Gorgeously Green will be a mega-movement and social-network where through the web and television, we will be creating change on a huge scale. More than anything, I hope you will see me continuing to be grateful for and to enjoy what is still gorgeously green about this planet.

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Anonymous Magda Collins said...
Great interview! I love the cover art, and will be sure to go out to my nearest Barnes and Noble to check it out. I know a few tips about going green, but I, like most people, know that I could definitely use a little more help in that department!

Another thing I want to talk about is bioheat, it’s just one small measure that people can take in order to start living a greener lifestyle.

Has anyone ever heard of it, or has switched to it? I want to start taking initiative in turning my home into a greener household, one way I have started is by switching out all my lightbulbs in my home to energy efficient lightbulbs. And I am also seriously considering switching over to bioheat as an alternative to regular oilheat. The thing that I love the most about it is that it’s completely clean burning, and is comprised of a b5 blend of oils which are derived from natural plant and vegetable sustainable resources such as corn, hemp, and avocados just to name a few. If you all want more information on how bioheat, just go on to I work with NORA to bring this info to you all! @ 8:06 PM  
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Anonymous Leslie said...
Sophie Uliano will be holding a booksigning at the Borders Mira Loma location during the weekend of 5/30. @ 6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Sophie just did a signing at the Borders I work at. She has a delightful accent. Cool lady. Another good "green" book is Ed Begley Jr's - Living Like Ed. He was also at my store yesterday. Nice guy! @ 10:56 PM  
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