Its a rare occasion when you get to meet your idol – and its even rarer when they contact you. This is why I thought it was a prank when environmentalist Paul Hawken emailed me. This green entrepreneur turned activist is the authour of seven books, the founder of Wiser.org and was named by Fortune “The Original Hippie Entrepreneur”. Yes, Hawken has served as a personal inspiration to me. Well holy guacamole! He came across my blog a while back and it turns out we have the same views on sustainable skincare and beauty through health (I love you internet!). After a few emails back and forth, I mustered up the courage to ask if he would let me interview him. Of course, being a beauty enthusiast (and also extremely nosy) I made sure to ask him about his grooming routine and conscious self-care recommendations. Whether talking sustainable business, the culture of collectivity or natural skincare, Paul Hawken is insightful, eloquent and down right inspiring.
You wrote about doing business in a new collaborative and ethical way in “Growing a Business”, what companies do you think are exemplifying this today?
I think the companies that are emerging in the peer-to-peer, sharing space are doing it well. Yerdle, Ouishare, Sidecar, etc. Not always, but often because of the way they are oriented. To be honest, I have very little contact with company cultures. I only know what I hear or what I read. I do not consult with companies any longer (too many requests) and I think I have more leverage in either writing or creating my own company(s). I do think the act of creating a company has radically changed generationally. A top-down, hierarchical form is still prevalent, but if you want to create a company that is relevant today, you have to think in terms of inclusivity, openness, transparency, and authenticity.
Along with the private sector, you have more recently written about the the nonprofit sector. Tell us about they shape the new movement you outlined in “Blessed Unrest”.
Well, I wrote a book about it because I could not capture it in a few words. Basically, I believe there is a collective wisdom in humanity that is manifest in the million + non-profit organizations that address the problems of the environment, poverty, human rights (especially women’s), and cultural conservancy. In essence, I have called it humanities’ immune response to ecological degradation, political corruption, and economic disease. It is everywhere; it has no center, no ideology, no charismatic leader. It is a movement arising from the ground up, usually by default. The institutions we expect to honor life and justice do not, whether it is the church, the government, schools, corporations, politicians…so people organize to care for that which is being demeaned, harmed, or hurt. When we see the world through the eyes of compassion, we cannot help but want to help, and we cannot help but fall in love with life.
You write about the power of organizations, but what can we do as individuals?
Organizations begin with an individual’s insight, conscience, concern, and sense of justice. They do not start en masse. Behind and within every organization is the individual. The most powerful thing an individual can do is change themselves, educate themselves, re-imagine what it means to be a human being alive today at this time of transformation. And then act on that sensibility. Speak to it, embody and live it.
What’s your take on the beauty industry today?
Women (and men) have been made into crash dummies by the chemical industry. Behind all the glossy ads, the long-legged models, the glamor and glitch, is a witches brew of compounds that should not be placed on the hair, scalp, skin, or lips. I think every woman knows this in some way. Some look past it, some do not know what to do, others actively find alternatives and help others do the same. It is time to clean up the beauty industry. When organic food was first sold, people put it down because it was not as big, colorful, juicy, or fresh in some cases. Today, organic is fresher, tastier, more nutritious, and more appealing. This is what is going to happen in beauty and cosmetics, but women have to be discriminating and investigate, question, demand, and be willing to say no to being exploited. Right now, silicone and glycerin conditioners are all the rage, because it makes hair shiny. Of course it does. It is also called Armor All. Women wouldn’t spray what they spray on their tires on their hair but they actually do because it is expensive and deceptively sold as safe and natural. I think within a decade we will wake up to the fact that hair dye, although maybe not carcinogenic, is wreaking havoc inside women’s bodies in ways that doctors do not understand, see or correlate. The cardinal rule needs to be discovered by women if they are to be healthy, which is don’t put it on your body if you would not put it in your body, because you are anyway.
While lecture touring, whats in your travel bag? Which grooming items keeps you looking and feeling your best?
I travel very light. I carry as few extra clothes as possible. I wear a pair of walking shoes, and take one for running or gym. Two t-shirts, one pair of jeans, yoga pants, enough socks and underwear, a sport coat for when I am at the podium or being interviewed, and something to keep me warm outside. In my shaving kit is toothbrush, floss, aspirin (it helps me sleep if I change too many time zones and I do not want to take sleeping pills), b-vitamins, skin serum, and sometimes sunblock if needed. That’s it. I do not take any pharmaceutical ever, at home or on the road. And I take good books.
Any men’s care tips that combine self-care with sustainability?
The best care a man can take is food, exercise, service to others and meditation. And then stay clean 🙂 I work out for an hour or more every day except one rest day a week. I do not drink coffee, black tea, milk, or alcohol. I avoid dairy, red meat, (I eat fish if fresh), sugar, soft drinks, caffeine, and anything made with flour. Lots of veggies, fish, nuts, seeds, almond milk, fruit, and weird stuff like chaga, maca, green food, and reishi from Paul Stamets. I am always fooling around with something new to eat. I am looking at Houttuynia cordata right now, also known as dokudami in Japan. We call it Lizard’s tail or heartleaf. Plants are amazing. Eat them. Smile.