Green lifestyle expert Danny Seo was literally born to be an environmentalist. His fateful birth date—Earth Day, three decades ago—inspired his passion for environmental conservation and led him on a path from pre-teen activist to becoming one of the country’s leading eco-lifestyle authorities.
His curriculum vitae includes the bestselling Simply Green books, DVDs and a weekly Sirius Satellite Radio program; he’s the editor at large for Country Home magazine, authoring a monthly column featuring easy tips on environmentally friendly living; he has a series of green living shows on Lime TV (lime.com/tv); and he’s acted as an eco-stylist to many of the country’s high profile tastemakers.
Endlessly referred to as “the green Martha Stewart,” Danny’s authenticity and enthusiasm in bringing eco-chic to the masses makes going green easier and more fun than ever. YOGI TIMES asked Danny to share his simple and affordable tips for creating a healthy and eco-conscious home.
Yogi Times: Average people seem to be paying more attention to the health of the environment lately. Do you think green has finally gone mainstream?
Danny Seo: It’s definitely an interesting time. I think what worries me a bit is that people are saying that green has become so trendy, so cool, so hip. Everybody’s green! Unfortunately, trendy things come and go, and I am hoping this is not a trend. Instead, I do think we’ve hit a cultural shift where people are realizing that: a) they need to live a greener, less wasteful existence, and b) it has become easier and more accessible to do so. There’s nothing wrong with people wanting green products and services to be convenient, affordable, beautifully designed and be effective. Finally, it’s actually possible to have your organic cake and eat it, too!
YT: You say your mantra is “Just One Thing.” Can you tell us a little bit about that? What are some of the small and painless steps that people can take to have a less detrimental impact on our planet?
Danny Seo: I get asked all the time what are the most important things people should be doing in their busy lives to make a difference. Sure, installing recycled denim insulation in your walls is a green way to go, but what do you do if your house is already finished? I brake it down to real, simple and truly effective ideas and tips you can do in the morning when making coffee, commuting to work, at the office, when shopping for groceries, etc., and it’s all broken down by seasons and holidays: organic rose tips obviously make sense near Valentine’s Day…all-natural mosquito repellant tips in the summer. I figure if you do the tip each day for a year, that all adds up to a big difference on one person’s part. And the calendar is fully recyclable and printed on recycled paper.
YT: Much of the green movement today is consumer-based, and eco-friendly clothing, furniture, etc. is still relatively expensive. You’re an advocate of repurposing and recycling what already exists. Can you share some ideas of things that don’t have to be purchased new, or ways to reinvent flea market finds?
Danny Seo: I am a big believer in creating a curated home, a home that is a reflection of who you are, where you’ve been, what you believe in and the journey you’ve taken in life. I like to mix and match new and old. I’ll buy a scratched and dented set of dining room chairs at Ikea and then reupholster them with vintage cashmere sweaters. It personalizes them and makes them your own…and because they’re scratched and dented, the chairs are already assembled and dirt-cheap! Flea markets are the oldest ways of living green; it’s all vintage and antique pieces that you really can’t find anyplace else. Some of the big name furniture companies scour flea markets for “inspiration” pieces; they buy them and then manufacture new pieces to look like the old piece they bought. So why not go straight to the source on the weekend and pick up some lovely pieces? A fresh coat of paint can do amazing things for any piece of furniture.
YT: What are some new green trends and/or ideas happening right now that YT readers should be aware of?
Danny Seo: Lighting. Those silly incandescent light bulbs are bad for the environment because they are—quite frankly—antiquated energy hogs. But those energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs are so harsh and bright white that they hurt the eyes. We are seeing a flood of energy efficient lighting that mimics the soft light of incandescent bulbs, but are as energy efficient as the CFLs (compact fluorescent lamp). The other thing is community action. San Francisco banning plastic shopping bags and Styrofoam had a ripple effect across the country. People should use their own reusable bags because they’re good for the environment and actually make carrying your purchases home a lot easier. Ever carry 20 flimsy grocery store plastic bags to and from the store? It’s so cumbersome. Those heavy-duty tote bags can hold a ton of groceries and won’t tear. It’s convenient and ecological. Expect to see much more corn-based plastic takeout containers, too. It’s called PLA and it’s compostable.
YT: What are some of your favorite green products?
Danny Seo: I cannot live without Method cleaning products (methodhome.com). The microfiber towels are incredible for gripping onto dirt and bacteria around my house. The super concentrated detergent—I like the unscented—is great because a tiny bit goes a long way to do a big load of laundry. And the O-Mop is fabulous; the wet sheets clean up dirty floors and I can toss it in my compost bin. I put encasement covers on all the mattresses and pillows in my house. It creates a barrier to protect the bedding and keeps microscopic dust mites at bay. It’s just better all-around for a healthier sleep.
YT: You’re known as a “green guru” with a history of environmental activism that dates back to your preteen years. Now you have a mile-long resume, boasting books, blogs,website, DVDs, etc. What are your big plans for the future?
Danny Seo: TV series, a 100% organic cotton bedding and bath products with a national retailer that is inspired by my Bucks County home on the Delaware River. Gorgeous all-American colors and patterns, all priced affordable, and again, organic and green. And books are the keystones of everything I do, be on the look out for more green decorating books for the home. Less about construction and renovation, and more about the finishing touches that really make any house a green and gorgeous home.