I was interviewed by high school student Tara Nelson, for a project she was doing on being "green".
What is your name?
Where do you live?
Rapid City, South Dakota (right near the beautiful black hills - about 20 min from Mt Rushmore!)
Why have you gotten involved in your business?
In early 1995 I was helped organize a fashion show fundraiser for a non-profit college environmental club. When I heard about Organic Cotton Clothing I knew it was an exciting new thing, and wanted to learn more. Discovering how destructive the process of growing conventional cotton* was convinced me that someone had to offer organic clothing for everyone. So after much research, I decided to open a store, Natural Selections, in my hometown of Fairfield, Iowa on the town square in November of 1995.
(*It requires about 1/3 of a pound of pesticides to grow the amount of cotton used in one t-shirt. And did you know that 25% percent of the worlds insecticide use is just for cotton? Yet cotton takes up only 2% of the worlds agricultural land. These chemicals are cancer-causing and should be eliminated, as every year people are poisoned and die from exposure to them.)
How long has your business been running?
since 1995 --- When I started you could find organic clothing in only one or two places in the entire USA!
Do you partake in being a green outside of work?
Absolutely! It is ingrained into me! Plus it feels great!
If so, how do you partake in being a green outside of work? Well I believe the most important thing I do is buy organic food and clothing as much as possible. Since we spend 1/3 of our life in bed, I sleep on soft organic cotton sheets and use natural rubber latex pillows and mattresses. And since our skin is our largest organ, I also use organic personal care products and makeup.
But of course I also recycle, conserve resources by growing a small organic garden, and use natural household cleaning products (this is SO important- especially considering I have 4 children!) I try to educate my children also, for example, my nine year old daughter is interested in makeup and so the lip glosses I buy her are all natural, organic ones that actually are good for her, instead of chemicals.
With one of the green resources you use in your house how does it save you money/save the environment?
Organic products are higher quality. In the case of textiles, they are softer, and don't put harmful chemicals into your skin, plus they often last longer than conventional textiles. In the case of food, they taste better, have more nutrition, and I find can literally keep you healthier! (We all want to avoid getting sick!)
What do you typically sell the most in your business?
Mens and Womens underwear! Shouldn't underwear be soft and pure, since it is next to your skin? And our organic cotton underwear is actually made in the United States, where the workers are paid a true living wage, (not made in a sweatshop overseas.)
What advice do you have for aspiring greens?
The very best thing you can do to change the world is to change yourself, change something in your life. So, voting with your dollars makes a lot of sense. When you buy an organic product, you are casting a vote, showing companies what YOU want, what YOU think is important. You are making an improvement in our world. Plus, with organic products, (whether it is the cereal you had for breakfast or the sheets you sleep on at night, if you choose organic, you are getting the best quality.) Look for green products that are actually made in the USA. If you have to buy an item made overseas, look on the tags to see if it was made with fair-trade practices, or fair-wage labor, or sweatshop free. If you think green is expensive, start with one thing. One pair of underwear. Or one organic lipstick. Or one organic chocolate bar. In my experience, once you have tried it, you will love it and see the difference.
There is so much information available online - so many cool resources, groups, etc. I wish those resources were available when I was younger - I think there are so many amazing things you can do now! For starters, check out http://www.greenamericatoday.org/ to find local links to green products and services in your area. If you can, go to one of the Greenfests http://www.greenfestivals.org/ they have in major cities, like Denver and Chicago, as they are SO much fun and you can try lots of organic products and meet interesting people too! And don't forget my website: http://www.theorganiccompany.com/
Is there anything else you would like to add or is there anyone else that you suggest I contact for another interview?
What specifically is your interest? There are LOTS of people I could suggest in different green businesses!
Thank You very much for taking time for this interview.
Sure. Good Luck!