Most of us had our share of candy, Coke and hot dogs when we were kids. Not so green lifestyle expert Sara Snow: her favorite snack was a whole wheat chappati chock-full of sprouts, hummus and sea kelp flakes. During my call to her home in Indianapolis, Snow spoke enthusiastically about the (dietary) quirks and graces of growing up green, her respect for family and her passion for a credo of organic living—a devotion that sparked her new book, Sara Snow’s Fresh Living: The Essential Room-by-Room Guide to a Greener, Healthier Family and Home.
How-to guides can be preachy, especially when addressing human morals and mores. Fresh Living is not: Snow’s approach is friendly, her information is accessible and the book’s “Green Bar Profiles,” brief cameos of “people from inside the natural products industry and green movement,” are inspiring. Snow walks readers through a typical American household, room by room, offering simple, easy and affordable ways to create a healthier, environmentally friendly home. “I didn’t want to advise people to go out and buy all the latest green gadgets, throw out everything in their houses and start over,” she says, “because that would do more damage than good.” Instead, Snow has produced a reasonably priced, useful guide that folks can take shopping and “scribble in the margins.” She wanted to reach everyone, wherever they were on their journey toward living a healthier, more eco-friendly life.
From kitchen to living room, bathroom to bedroom (how to make “natural whoopie”), nursery (the ecology of diapering) to laundry room and beyond to the Great Outdoors, Fresh Living helps us rethink what we put in, on and around our bodies. Did you know that green grocery shopping happens on the store’s perimeter? That’s where all the veggies and fruits are stashed. Do you have a spider plant on your counter? If so, you’ll breathe easier. Do you know the top tips for greening your car? (First, check the air pressure on your tires.) Especially insightful are Snow’s clear explanations of often confusing food labeling, hazardous pesticide use and the dangers of plastics.
Sara Snow’s definition of green—what she likes to call “fresh”—living (she thinks “green” is overused) is not only about making a healthier home environment, but also about living at a slower, more aware pace—much like the way she was raised. Daughter of Tim Redmond (a green movement pioneer and co-founder of Eden Foods) and mother Pattie, Snow grew up in a unique household where measured, low-impact living ruled supreme. “I was aware that we did things differently in our home,” she says, “and that we were part of a movement much bigger than our family. My dad and mom were involved in important work, and raised us in a very specific way.”
Elders, too, played a crucial part in Snow’s life. Though her parents swept the whole family along on the exciting green movement tide, she credits her grandparents for many of her sensibilities. “My grandparents were ahead of their times,” she says. “They were environmentalists, but they weren’t uppity about it. They would sit down in the dirt and explain the difference between a pea shoot and a weed, where food comes from and why it was important to eat food that has life still in it.” Sadly, Snow believes that many kids today lack this basic knowledge and an understanding of the slower, more earth-connected way of life practiced by earlier generations. On a bright note, though, she says that many questions she answers and consultations she has are with parents, teachers and students who want access to programs, activities and curricula about eating well, establishing responsible carbon footprints and reducing environmental toxicity.
Since 2005, Snow, helped by her previous experience as a television producer, has created TV programs emphasizing an aware, organic lifestyle. She now hosts “Get Fresh with Sara Snow,” carried by the Discovery Health channel, appears regularly on CNN and FitTV, and blogs at treehugger.com. She is an environmental activist who uses her platform to champion planet Earth. “I have a voice and I use that voice to positively encourage people who are trying to do some good. If we can simplify, buy less and start educating ourselves as consumers, we can help companies clean up their environmental practices,” she says.
To make a difference, Snow believes people need to be aware of how their slightest actions can affect their well-being and the health of the environment. “It’s about making that one small change so that you can be a little bit healthier, a little bit more environmentally conscious. Once that change becomes habit, then you add something else. One day you’ll realize, hey, I’m living a really healthy life! And that’s something you can be proud of.”
Alison Hood recycles, re-uses and gardens organically in Marin County, California.
Read more about Sara Snow on her website.