Hey, ya’ll! I have a way overdue treat for ya’ll today. I contacted Val Reddeman, president of Greenfeet, and co-host of the wonderful show More Hip Than Hippy, at the end of last year regarding doing an eco interview. She agreed! Between her busy holiday schedule – owning a business during the holiday season can keep you jumping – and my three girls and work and etc etc, I have FINALLY gotten to posting it (I’m a bad, bad blogger!).

So without further ado, please find our wonderful eco-interview below. Thanks, Val! And make sure ya’ll give a listen to the MHTH podcast and check out the Greenfeet Store.

How did Greenfeet Evolve?

A fusion of time and passion. Back in 1997 when I started, being ‘green’ wasn’t hip – it was crunchy. People thought I was nuts creating a company based on the idea that you could enjoy the benefits of a modern world while limiting potential dangers to both your health and the planet. Boy, have times changed.

How Do You Choose Your Vendors?

Many come to us. We also have an army of folks who keep their eyes peeled for new, innovative and quality made goods. This includes our loyal customers.

What Is Your Best Selling Product?

That changes on any given day based on press, news or time of year. Solid sellers are reusable water bottles, reusable bags and composters.

What is your favorite product?

Our cast iron chef skillet. Not a glamorous choice, I know, but it’s one of our products that I use nearly every day. It’s affordable (under $25), will last forever with minimal maintenance, is made in the USA and is a great choice for those looking for healthy cookware. Cast iron is also a lot easier to season and clean than most people think. Don’t be afraid!

If you had just one piece of advice to give our readers regarding living a green lifestyle, what would it be?

It’s the small steps that count. Small shifts over time add up. Avoid making sweeping changes. Think of it like one of those fancy diets. They work in the short term but before you know it you’re back to your old habits again. Instead, focus on changing one small thing at a time. It’s far more likely you’ll stick with it and those small shifts in your behavior will add up to savings both for the planet and typically for your checkbook too!

What “beginner” products would you recommend for our readers?

There are tons of really easy, inexpensive things that can save you time, money and help reduce your carbon footprint. Here are just a few:

1. Digital Shower Timers. Saves water, money and keeps your kids on schedule
2. Reusable bags like the ChicoBag. They reduce clutter and waste costs and is one of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
3. Reusable Water Bottles like the Greenfeet Klean Kanteen. You’ll save over $100 dollars a year by opting for a reusable bottle, reduce the amount of foreign oil we use (in the production of plastic) and again, help in the fight to reduce landfill
4. Reusable Coffee mugs. Same concept as above and most coffee houses give a reduced price if you bring your own mug.
5. Change out those lightbulbs! You’ve heard it a million times. By switching bulbs out to CFL’s (compact fluorescent) you’ll save big bucks over the lifetime of the bulb. Buyer beware – choose quality bulbs and review the manufacturers’ warranty. Cheap CFL’s don’t last as long – you get what you pay for.
6. Digital Timers for lights. So easy to install and set up. Use for outside lights (including holiday lights) and opt for motion sensors for indoor lights that commonly get left on.
7. Digital Thermostat. Most models offer four settings – morning, day, evening and overnight. Easy to set and use.
8. Rechargeable batteries. In California, it’s illegal to dump batteries in the landfill due to the toxic metals and chemicals contained within them. Switch to rechargeable’s. They cost bit more upfront but save you a fortune over their lifetime. Once expired, be sure to dispose of them according to your local hazard waste laws.

Which is better- organic cotton, hemp or bamboo for clothing?

Organic cotton is grown without the use of herbicides, pesticides or chemical defoliants. It’s also processed without the use of harsh chemicals. While there is some organic cotton grown stateside, most comes from south Asia and needs to be transported across the great blue sea.

Hemp is quite wonderful. It grows without the need for pesticides or herbicides. Unlike its kissing and smoking cousin, hemp contains very small amounts of THC (the component which gives the high when smoking marijuana). Hemp is remarkable in that it is a very durable fiber used for a multitude of things. It’s naturally antibacterial and helps wick moisture. As we all know, Hemp is currently illegal to cultivate in the US so most of our finished fiber comes to us via Canada, Romania and China.

Of the three – bamboo is the least green. Why? The process of converting plant material to fiber is in many cases quite nasty. The good news is technology is improving and I’m confident that bamboo will be up there with organic cotton and hemp for best fiber choices soon.

What do you say to people who claim going green is too expensive?

Rather than “tell”, I prefer to “show”. Showing how installing CFL’s can save money on their electric bill. How buying less “packaged” items can reduce trash output resulting in downsizing their trash can (smaller trash can= smaller bill in most cities). I show how maintaining HVAC systems with clean filters keeps them running more efficient which means lower utility bills and a longer lifetime of the system itself. If you like to cook, show how cooking whole foods, simply, can save money through buying seasonally, buying in bulk, and avoiding expensive packaged foods (even novice cooks can prepare delicious meals with minimal ingredients and cooking skills). You get the idea. As you live green, keep a journal with the changes you make and document the savings. You can’t get more real than that. Show by example.

What gift would you recommend for the “Greenie Meanie” for the holiday season?

Observe their lifestyle. What is it they like to do – cook? Play golf? Read? There are lots of eco-friendly options to choose from. If they love their coffee, consider an uber-cool reusable coffee cup (if they have a connection to NYC, check out our ethically made Happy to Serve You mugs at Greenfeet.com). Consider an experience – theatre tickets, gift certificate to their favorite restaurant, you get the idea. Also, remember to buy quality goods. They cost a bit more but can extend the life of a product dramatically reducing landfill.

As a retailer, what do you think of Amazon’s new reduced packaging?

I think it’s a wonderful idea. Amazon moves a lot of product and if they can influence manufacturers to reduce packaging for online retailers that would be fantastic. Most packaging is designed for security purposes to prevent theft on a store shelf. Online retailers don’t have that issue, however, Amazon will have to convince manufacturers that either reducing overall packaging or having two forms of packaging is worth the expense. I believe it can be done but also believe it will have its challenges.

Who would be on your top five list of eco-friendly businesses?

Well, Greenfeet.com of course! I’m a big fan of Interface (manufacturers of carpet), Patagonia, Stoneyfield farms and Sierra Nevada Brewery (they have a lot going on that is not publicized)

Which is sexier 100 mpg or Brad Pit?

Hehem….millions of women will think I’m nuts, but I’ll take 100 mpg. Why? Brad Pitt’s tied up with what’s her name and won’t be available to go with me to the eco-resort in Dominica I’ll be visiting with all the money I’ve saved on gas. Besides, I suppose I really should invite my husband.

How did MHTH [More Hip Than Hippy] come about?

We wanted to spread the word about how easy shifting to a green lifestyle can be. Podcasting was brand new and intrigued us. My friend and soon-to-be co-host Dori, was a seasoned, professional broadcaster at a local radio station. I asked her to join me “on the patio” as it was set up back then and More Hip Than Hippie was born. That was over 3 years ago and this month we celebrate our 200th show with an interview with Ken Grossman, Founder of Sierra Nevada. Oh yeah, while the thrust of the show is about living a green lifestyle, we also taste test beer and chocolate. How did that come about? Neither Dori or I can remember. Chalk it up to our 40+ year old brains.

You can also be found on other networking sites?

Yes! Both Dori and I are on Twitter. My handle is grndiva and Dori is morehipdori. Our show, More Hip Than Hippie has a page on both Facebook and MySpace and I would like to invite your readers to come be our friend!

What is your favorite beer and chocolate combination?

My all time fave is Mississippi Mud – essentially a black and tan in a bottle – combined with Dagoba’s Xocolatl, a delightful 74% cacao blend of chilies and cacao nibs. Yeah, baby!