Attention green-minded readers, GreenNest.com is a resource for all things eco-friendly. Lisa and Ron Beres, co-founders and owners of Green Nest LLC, have made a business out of transforming health and quality of life by visiting their site. Now they have a reference book for the would-be consumer who is afraid of the pitfalls of false green marketing. Just Green It!: Simple Swaps to Save Your Health and the Planet is a resource for anyone looking for a guide through the green world. Ron talked with 1-800-RECYCLING.com to share their insight and story of their entrance into eco-friendly living almost a decade ago. See their answers to their journey, their latest works and their hopes for the green future below. Until you read their book, they encourage you to visit GreenNest.com for a video and articles on how to go green for less than $250. As a bonus gift to readers, go to FreeGreenGift.com, where you can download “Ten Essential Secrets to Creating a Healthy Office.” 1-800-RECYCLING: Lisa and Ron — a husband-and-wife team — how did you first get started down the path toward becoming eco-experts? Ron: In 2002, my wife, Lisa, a former interior designer, started feeling run down and tired all of the time, suffering from chronic fatigue, sinus infections, hormone imbalances and lowered immunity after moving into a newly remodeled home. She was well aware of the abundance of toxic materials that exist in homes today from her experience as an interior designer, but was unaware these materials can off-gas as dangerous chemicals into the air we breathe (i.e., that “new home smell”). After much research and a dozen doctor visits, she discovered that her own house and products within the home were making her sick. After making the necessary adjustments in the home, her health gradually improved to a 180º turnaround, and we decided to help other people in their endless efforts to attain optimal health. We became BBEC/Building Biologist (Building Biology — a study derived from Germany that encompasses how buildings impact life and the living environment) and Certified Green Building Professionals. 1-800-RECYCLING: Your site, GreenNest.com, is a resource to the environmentally conscious everywhere, how did it start? Ron: After Lisa’s experience of getting sick from her own home, we wanted to create a resource and place for people to go that had similar issues. We wanted to find a place where they can find things like do-it-yourself air quality test kits for mold, to organic cotton linens, shower filters and more. So, in 2005, we officially opened GreenNest.com. 1-800-RECYCLING: What is it about green products on the market that are so misleading? Ron: “Green” can be very misleading as a term and lends itself to greenwashing tactics by companies. In our new book, Just Green It!, we have a whole chapter dedicated to the subject. Greenwashing occurs when companies and organizations spend time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing, but do not actually back up their claim with equivalent environmental efforts. Their products may sound or appear to be healing the environment, but they are ultimately taking advantage of consumers. 1-800-RECYCLING: What is the first thing that we can do not to be fooled by fake green products? Ron: The marketing term “green” or other terms like “environmentally friendly,” “eco-friendly” and “eco-conscious” are meaningless unless they share the label with some proof. They can also be misleading. Look for reputable third-party certifications such as Green Seal or USDA organic. There should also be a full and complete ingredients list. Evaluate the packaging. Is it made from recycled material and recyclable? For a product to make these claims, it should walk the walk. 1-800-RECYCLING: While writing Just Green It!, what did you find out about the green products market that surprised you? Ron: When we first researched products for Just Green It!, we expected to find and did [find] many toxic offenders in the marketplace. However, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised as to the plethora of great eco-friendly, green and healthy products that are available to consumers, if they just know what to look for. It is a great time to be green! We have a section in the book called “The Extreme Green,” and one of my favorites is the “Poo Poo paper products” we have listed. I know you have heard of recycling and regifting; but now there’s poo-cycling and poo-gifting. The company featured uses 100% recycled and odorless paper products made from our fiber-eating animal friends’ poo, including elephants, cows, pandas and horses, to create a wide variety of products: paper, journals, notebooks, greeting cards, wine bags and even a bouquet of roses! You can frame your loved one in the poo picture frame (or an ex should you find this more suitable). The poo, or dung, is thoroughly cleaned and additional plant fibers are added back in to add strength. So funny. 1-800-RECYCLING: What word of advice would you have to companies that are clearly taking the shortcut to green instead of changing their products? Ron: Don’t do it! You are not only short changing the world, but you are also short changing yourself. In addition, the average consumer is getting more educated on the subject of green as well. So, instead of trying to save your bottom line, build a green brand that the consumers will learn to love and trust, and you will be rewarded a thousand times more. Besides, it’s the right thing do! 1-800-RECYCLING: You’ve become media personalities, how did that first come about and how has it helped you to spread the word to more people? Ron: While attending a workshop on indoor air quality in Santa Fe, NM, in 2004, we were overcome with the feeling that we should pass on the information we have learned in all of our studies and personal experiences to mainstream America. At the time, most of our family, friends and neighbors had no idea what “eco-friendly” products were, and we felt compelled to take action. The green movement wasn’t all over the national media like it is now, and the idea that homes could make you sick was even a smaller dot on the radar. So, while in conjunction with starting our online healthy product store, GreenNest.com, we started doing a few local speaking engagements, eventually a local cable show segment, radio interviews and soon after we were on FOX & Friends and The Today Show with Matt Lauer! The increased exposure has helped our platform tremendously and we feel very blessed to be in the position to share such valuable information to many more people than we could have ever imagined. 1-800-RECYCLING: If there was only one value that readers could get from Just Green It!, what would you want them to walk away with? Ron: Going green will not cost you green. With new green products hitting the market every day, it’s easy to think it would cost you a fortune to truly go green. The truth is, going green isn’t about buying all new furniture, cork flooring and organic towels — although those are nice. It’s really about the simple decisions you make every day and changing habits to conserve energy, reduce consumption and make healthier purchasing decisions.
Making a Green Life Together: Lisa and Ron Beres
Ron and Lisa Beres wrote “Just Green It!” to steer consumers toward a greener, healthier lifestyle.