TGSG Note: I am so excited to have writer, eco mom, and all-around good egg, Wendy Gabriel stop by The Guru today. Wendy is my go-to source for green living info and is a huge supporter of outdoor play and time in nature. BIG thanks to Wendy for taking time out of her busy schedule to chat with us. Enjoy the interview. See ya outside! ~ The Grass Stain Guru
1. what kind of kid were you? how did what you loved as a child translate in adulthood?
What a great question… I was a skinny, geeky, tomboyish, artsy, bookwormish, shy, talkative complexity of a girl.
When I was five we moved to a 100 year old farmhouse located in the middle of nowhere and we went from city life with a dog to country life with two dogs, numerous barn cats, cows, horses, chickens, geese, a pig and a lot of space to run, play and explore. It was heaven for a child.
Some of my favorite memories are playing outdoors with my three sisters, drawing with my Nana, hiking with my Dad and baking with my Mom. I have fond memories of making mudpies, building forts in the woods and sledding in the snow.
Reading was also a big part of my childhood. Both of my parents are book lovers and they passed on their love of reading and learning to me. It was a major crisis if any of us were without a good book.
So, to answer your questions, I’m still a complexity of a girl who likes a good mudpie and a great book.
2. Why is living and promoting a green lifestyle important to you?
I guess it’s not even that living a green lifestyle is so important to me, it’s more like why would I live any differently. It’s what I know. I’m definitely not saying I’m perfect or even live as sustainably as I would like. For example, a dream is to be completely off the grid and have our own sources of electricity.
It wasn’t until probably high school or college that I realized everyone didn’t grow their own produce. And I was shocked to learn that people used toxic chemicals on the produce they were going to be eating.
I also thought that my Mom cleaned with vinegar and baking soda primarily to save money until I began to research the toxins that are in every day cleaning products.
Another source of amazement, the things people throw away; perfectly good things that could be fixed, given to charity or recycled.
I feel it is each of our responsibility to be kind to every living creature and treat the earth with respect. Isn’t that how we all would like to be treated?
As far as promoting a green life style, I try to be a good example to my children and the people I live around without being too annoying. One of my favorite quotes is, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I don’t get it right all the time but I do my best. I write about green living because it provides me a creative outlet for something I’m very passionate about. The fact people actually read what I write is both gratifying and humbling. It makes me want to write better, and be better.
3. If you could speak to your child’s principal and have them make adjustments and changes at school — in the classroom and beyond, what would you say and ask for?
First, I think I should warn you that I’m THAT mom. I didn’t know what that meant until I heard someone talking about not wanting to be THAT mom; everything she described, I had already done. I have already talked to my daughter’s teacher about having the children using Clorox wipes to clean their areas every morning (among others things, the warning on the label says it’s not safe for humans and animals). I’ve talked to the teacher and the principal about the lack of recess for ½ day kindergarteners. I’ve called the teacher at home when she said the kids couldn’t bring red food for snack (and found out that she meant food with red food dye in it). I’m currently working on a recycling program and my next campaign: using non-toxic chemicals for cleaning at the school.
In my mind, cleaning without toxic chemicals should be a priority for all schools. Why would we use toxic cleaning supplies that impact our children negatively when there are effective non-toxic cleaners available?
Then when all that dust has settled I’m going to work on the need to stop motivating the students with food. In my daughter’s school it seems every other day they are having ice cream, pizza or candy, all tied to meeting some sort of milestone. They read a certain amount of books and they get a pizza party. They make it another ten days in school and they eat ice cream. I’m going to suggest maybe extra recess or extra gym time is better motivation and healthier for their bodies.
Having said all that, we absolutely adore our daughter’s teacher and the school that we’ve put her in. Like anything else, there is always room for improvement.
4. You have an afternoon free to yourself. what do you do?
Bio: Wendy Gabriel is wife to a recovering stage actor turned radio talk host, mommy to two amazing little girls and a green living writer. She is the owner of My Green Side.org , writer for TwilightEarth.com, a columnist for Examiner.com and a weekly on-air contributor to The Christopher Gabriel Program. You can listen to her Wednesdays on AM970 WDAY where she talks about Simple Tips for Green Living. Follow Wendy on Twitter @mygreenside.