Whole Living Daily

Jessica Seinfeld Talks Green Parenting

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We caught up with Jessica Seinfeld, New York City mother of three, wife of comedian Jerry, and founder of Baby Buggy, a nonprofit that helps provide essential clothes, gear, and services to families in need. Her newest role is as a brand ambassador for Aveeno Baby, which just launched their Organic Harvest line—a collection of USDA-certified organic products for little ones that launched in March.

What does greening mean in the Seinfeld house? Our children are growing up in a much different era than both my husband and I did. What's nice to see is that our schools are emphasizing green living and they're backing up a lot of things that we're reading about and learning about. I've changed the light bulbs, I try to reduce waste, I try to buy products that don't have an obscene amount of packaging and support farmers a greener lifestyle. I wouldn't say that I'm 100 percent successful all the time, I definitely have a lot of faults, but I try to do something every single day that I didn't do a year ago.

Does your whole family participate? Are Jerry, Sascha, Julian, and Shepherd into it? We're three-quarters of the way there—there are definitely ways we could be better and we work at it all the time, but I'm proud of a lot of the changes we've made. We've changed the way we heat and cool our house—we completely redid our air conditioning and heating system to be energy efficient.  It was a big investment to do that, but I'm already seeing our bills cut in half for heating and that's exciting.

How do you make decisions about what products to purchase? I try to be extremely aware of companies and their philosophies. How they live, how they produce food, how they produce their products, how they treat their workers.

That sounds like it can get labor intensive. Yeah, you have to do your homework and read and learn what their best practices are. Who has the time to do that when you're busy and working and you have kids? I find in the end it's worth the effort because I like supporting companies that are responsible and I like feeling that our family is living in a responsible, respectful way.

Was green living part of your life when you were growing up? My parents have always been progressive people. They grew up in the '60s eating organic food, I worked at a food co-op since I was very little—they would send me to put in their volunteer hours because they were working! My mother always bought cereal that came in bags. My parents have done yoga since the early '70s and were eating organic since before I was born. It was harder to find and not readily available, but it's a philosophy that I was born with.

Are these lessons you're trying to teach your own kids? I just think it happens naturally. I don't try to drive points home with my children, I just try to live in a way that my kids are learning something by what I’m doing. I'm not one of those mothers who says, "You have to do community service every week for 12 hours!" My kids are not at the age where they're listening to that kind of wisdom, they're observing behavior more and I just try to live a life that I’m proud of and will hopefully teach them to be good human beings.

How can we all get started on a greener path? I think people should get out and walk and bike more, use their cars less. That's a simple way of starting. Small steps that are the pathway to making bigger changes in your life. I liken it to fashion magazines that introduce the concept of shopping at the high end and the low end. I do that a lot with food, and I do that with taking green steps in my life. No one wants to make major changes in their life. If you look at the most successful stories, usually it's about people making incremental changes and becoming that green person they want to be along the way

(Seinfeld family photo credit: John Dolan)
(Aveeno Baby photo courtesy of Aveeno)

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