Danny has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, and Food and Wine, among other national publications. He's also the official "Green Living Partner" for JC Penney and has partnered with Method Products, a line of environmentally-friendly cleaning and personal care supplies sold in stores nationwide -- and he's working on a new line of eco-friendly bedding (pictured on it with actress Kerry Washington).
MindBodyGreen: You started Earth 2000 when you were 12 yrs old -- what led to this? Did you have an "a-ha" moment? What inspired you to start this organization?
Danny Seo: When I was 12---gosh, more than 20 years ago!---I was both idealistic and very naive. My birthday happened to fall on Earth Day, so I believed the world was coming to end from reading the newspaper but also believed maybe I could just change it all. The mission, in 1989, was to save the planet by the year 2000. Imagine that. But I figured twice my age would be the year 2000, and I would be 24 by then, which to a 12-year-old is ancient. I never thought my early years of creating a national environmental group from scratch would become a huge learning ground for what I’m doing today.
MBG: Any tips for someone who wants to be greener but doesn't know where to start?
DS: Going green is overwhelming; it’s not like going vegetarian where you just change the way you eat. Instead, it’s about making changes to everything and anything you do, live, breathe, and even think. I always say, start with the big picture. If you drive a lot, think about cutting down your commute or finding a more fuel efficient car. If you do tons of laundry, look into energy saving machines, greener detergents and techniques to speed up the drying to save energy. What are the energy hogs in your house? The kitchen, bathroom and heating/cooling systems are good places to start. Research how to be more efficient, invest what you can afford to do and commit to trying a bit harder each day.
MBG: What's the simplest/easiest thing we can do to be greener?
DS: I think the easiest thing you can do to go greener is to go vegetarian or try to cut back on meat. Even just going meatless on Mondays is something almost anyone can do. Pound for pound, meat is one of the most energy intensive foods you can buy at the store; from factory farms to feed to waste management to spoilage and refrigeration, it all adds up. I went vegetarian at age 12 and never looked back.
MBG: Biggest misconception about being greener?
DS: The biggest misconception about going green is that it costs more. Yes, is a Lexus Hybrid a very expensive investment? Sure is. But is a barely used Toyota Prius you find on Ebay or at the dealership a good deal? It can be if you shop around. With green going mainstream, one good thing has happened: a flood of choices. You can find affordable organic fruits and veggies, organic cotton sheets, light bulbs, cleaning products and much more now at your favorite stores. You have a choice if you want to live in eco-luxury or eco-cheap chic. It’s there for the taking.
MBG: Any green brands/products/trends we should be on the lookout for in 2010?
DS: There are two big products I’m excited about for 2010. First, my friends at Method are launching Method Laundry, one of the greenest laundry detergents to be launched with a patented SmartClean, plant-based formula. It’s TINY! Instead of big, bulky wasteful jugs of watered down detergent, theirs can fit in your front pocket because it’s 8X concentrated. But it’s the cleaning formula I love; it works as well as the big non-green products because the cleaning molecules have been reversed. One of the guys who helped develop OxyClean worked on this for the past 2 years. And I love the fact its dispensing system is all precise pumps; no overdosing and no drippy caps! Another product I think is really interesting are these LED lamps. We all loved the energy efficient holiday lights this year we used all over the house; those LED string lights use 1/10th the energy, last forever and barely use any energy. Over at JCPenney, we’re launching an LED table and floor lamp as part of our Simply Green designation campaign: stylish, affordable and easy to find in stores.
MBG: Favorite organic or healthy food?
DS: Right now I am obsessed with organic agave syrup. I discovered it at Rancho La Puerta in Mexico when I was vacationing there and loved how it tasted and how it didn’t spike my blood sugar to crazy levels. I use it on everything: dips, as pancake syrups, salad dressings, homemade lemonade, etc. So good.
MBG: Guilty indulgence?
DS: Do I have a guilty indulgence? Sort of. I wouldn’t call it an indulgence, more of a guilty sin. I love sugar-free Red Bull, or as I jokingly call it, cancer in a can. With the demands of a TV show, writing schedule, product designing, book tours and running all over the place, sometimes I need a pick me up that isn’t loaded with sugar. I know there’s nothing healthy about it, so I’m trying to replace them with water with Emergen-C powder packets. One day at a time…
MBG: What are you reading?
DS: I’m reading the book A World Without Us right now. I will never look at body wash products embedded with those plastic polymers the same way again.
MBG: What are you working on now and what's next?
DS: We’re developing a reality show. Very exciting. I’ve partnered with Authentic Entertainment, producers of the shows "Ace of Cakes" and "Flipping Out." We shot the pilot and hope to have the show on the air later this year. We’re also developing more models and extension products under my Simmons Natural Care by Danny Seo bedding line. The USDA Certified organic bath and beauty line launched last year called Wholearth Beauty by Danny Seo is another one of my favorite lines. This Earth Day, I’ll be introducing our USDA certified organic fine fragrances and some other great products on QVC. And my partnership with JCPenney continues to thrive; we’re aiming to launch a green home collection in stores by 2011.
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