Ask Alexandra – March 2011
I have been a loyal fan ever since I first saw you in feature films “Christine” and “American Flyers” on Dutch TV when I was a teenager in the mid 90’s and it actually resulted in the fact that I have had a crush on you ever since. ( since I have a girlfriend don’t tell anyone though 😉 )
Though your great professional acting performances have always been the reason why I have been such a fan of you, for the last couple of years it has been your exceptional way of life that’s truly been inspirational for me.
I very much admire your way of living and think it’s a fantastic example and inspiring for everybody of how to live life to the fullest, reach your personal goals and yet reduce the carbon footprint you leave behind and inspire others to do the same.
Also your view on the topic of overpopulation is a subject which I almost don’t hear from anybody but one I most definitely agree about, as well as your passion for the electric car. Although I own a few classic cars myself as a hobby, -I ride my bicycle during the week for everything- which I drive them very little and because of their age and limited use they leave a tiny amount of carbon footprint I can see the EV is the short-term future in mobility.
Seeing how involved you are with numerous projects dedicated to lead a better way of life I often wonder if you have any personal time at all!
I have been on holiday in America numerous times and it never ceases to amaze me how much more programmed to consume most American people are than inhabitants of other countries. I live in the Netherlands (a country you have visited as well I believe for the filming of “Detonator2”) and although perhaps we are more recycle-minded and less-is-more-orientated than some other countries, the addiction to oil and mother earth is still present. The will to change that way of life is there as various government incentives to for example promote EV’s are well underway.
Now to my question to you: Is it hard for you living the life in the way that you do, and at the same time being surrounded by millions of people in Los Angeles who live in the exact opposite way that you do? I can imagine that it gets you down, being as passionate as you are about your believes. How do keep yourself so motivated and how do you deal with people who don’t seem to care at all?
Thank you for your answer Alexandra and please don’t ever change your ways, I am positive that I’m not the only one whose life has changed because of your enthusiasm and passion!
P.S. Great to read that your brother Jonathan has been released, I trust his incarnation hasn’t affected his personal beliefs, all the best to him.
Thank you for your lovely email. I love Holland when I was there in the mid 1990s for Detonator 2 and was so impressed at all the bicycles there. The hotel we stayed in composted its food waste and it was the first time a hotel encouraged me to save water by not having the maid change the towels and sheets daily.
To answer your question, I do not find it hard to live around folks who live differently than I do. None of them live “the exact opposite way” – I believe people have more in common than they have differences even if you take a rich man from Miami and a very poor woman in the Sudan. It does not get me down that there are alot of Los Angelenos who eat meat, litter, waste, consume etc. because there are so many more people who inspire me! Just last night, I was in a health food store with Ian and I had two conversations with strangers about eating cruelty free. Neither person was vegan, but both were moving towards eating with more consciousness towards animals, and I was so heartened to see that.
I also have many friends who live lives so admirable to me, and I aspire to be like them: Nik Tyler, who grew up a Jane; Brendan David, who rides his bike everywhere; Daphne Zuniga, who meditates regularly. When I know a few people like, it is enough to keep me from feeling alone. Also, I am very careful not to judge others for their lifestyles, as I am sure there are ways they are doing good for the world in which I am not.
Thank you for writing, and yes! I am so happy Jonathan is out of prison!
I want to write and thank you for responding to me earlier this academic year. I wrote to you about being gay and what I could do do help the community around me, and you gave me such unbelievable advice. I am out, and my girlfriend and I have since gotten married, and we’re both mentoring gay kids in our area. I am loving our lives now, and i think you deserve credit!
What wonderful news! I am thrilled for you and your partner, and applaud you for your courage in being out in a world that is not welcoming to lesbians. I am honoured to have been even a small part of these steps. It is such an inspiration to me that you are living generously and being true to yourself. Thank you so much for sharing your success with me and all of us. It helps us all be braver and truer in our own lives.
Please check in next year, when I hope America will have more acceptance of and give more rights to gays and lesbians.
I have always admired you as an actress, particularly in the Perry Mason movies. There is no one who was more made for that role. I also loved you in Dragnet. Only you could look that sweet and innocent. I see from your website that you are an environmental activist. I am just curious to know what you do in your daily life to mitigate your impact on the environment and curtail your own consumerism. I see a lot of actors and actresses with cars and houses and other energy consuming assets and who are blatant conspicuous consumers and claim to be environmental activists but make no sacrifices in their personal lives except supporting environmental causes by giving money and a small amount of time on telephone call in donations lines but actually do very little sacrificing of their own as evidences by the pictures seen of them doing like the rest of us and not sacrificing lifestyle for the environment. Of course I have no idea what celebrities are really like outside the news stories and I don’t mean to imply that you don’t live your activism, which is why I am interested in your activities. I would not waste my time asking if I did not think you were sincere. I also hope that you will answer this yourself and not assign it to a staff person who will give a clever, non answer of an answer. I know that you probably have a hectic schedule and that your time is precious to you but we can always hope to hear from you personally.
I would hope that by reading my other Ask Alexandra responses you would recognize that I answer the questions myself. Since I have no staff it would not get done unless I did it!
The celebrities I know do truly care about the environment, and have made lifestyle changes for it. They recycle, drive hybrids, bring bags to the grocery store etc. I agree that alot of wealthy people continue to purchase as many possessions, but now they are “green” possessions. This is self-defeating, as it is vital we cut down on our buying if we are to live sustainably. Having said that, most Americans are far from living sustainably – including me! We all need to make larger, fundamental changes – the main problem is that just living in the United States is a huge detriment to the environment: the way our society is set up and our high base standard of living has a enormous footprint that even the most conscientious of us fail miserably at doing our part. This includes me also.
This is how I live my activism, and I am the first to say it is not enough: I became a vegetarian when I was 14, last year I became a vegan (I am sorry it took me so long), I dont use anything tested on animals or which contains animal products. For over 2 decades, it has been spelled out in every acting contract that I will not wear fur or makeup tested on animals. I have not worn leather, wool or silk since 1989. I have driven electric cars for 21 years. We have solar panels and we purchase green energy from our utility. Both our cars are plug in cars, although mine also has gasoline (www.ChevroletVoltage.com). I compost, recycle. I took a class to live more sustainably and our refrigerator is the most efficient on the market even though it is twice as expensive. We water our patio plants from a bucket in our shower or the dishwashing tub, and we are having a water barrel installed to catch rainwater. Our cleaners are non toxic.
Our home in Los Angeles is 1800 square feet townhouse, as living in a smaller home and with shared common space is more environmental. I make a real effort to buy used items, and to fix things when they break instead of replacing them with something new: my computers have all been refurbished (except one I bought in 1997), my printer was bought used from Ebay, most of our furniture is used (the furniture that is not used was purchased in 1990, before I realized how important it was to not buy new things). Ian gave me a used iphone for my birthday, even though it was twice as expensive as a new one. Our glasses and our silverware were likewise bought used. I am trying to find a nice set of used dishes in bright colors and a microwave on EBay or Craigs List, which is proving to be difficult, so we have to wait until something appropriate comes up for sale. The kitchen cabinets, our bookshelf, Ian’s and my office are made from recycled materials.
Unless I am in a foreign country, I never drink out of a plastic water bottle, I drink tapwater. I boycott Old Navy, the Gap and Banana Republic due to their ties with deforestation; Proctor & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson due to animal testing. My investments are only in value-based mutual funds, which for me means most importantly no oil or coal stocks, no pharmaceuticals. I turned down the most money I had ever been offered to represent a gas car. I also turned down an offer to be involved with the selling of green products, as I am not comfortable pushing alot of “stuff”. We buy organic and from the farmers’ market. I make a real effort to not buy alot of things, as evidenced by my small (but still not small enough) wardrobe. Each January, Ian and I get rid of one thing a day in our home in an effort to keep things more simple. At our wedding, we asked for no gifts, as we did not want to add more “stuff” to our life. Maybe most importantly, Ian and I do not have children, as overpopulation is the biggest crisis humans face, I believe.
Where I fall down:
- Ian, my sister and her partner, my mother and myself share a home in Central California. Even though I share it, this is more wasteful than just having one home.
- Even though I buy most things used, I do buy new clothes. I can still get rid of more clothes, for sure. For example, I have 4 pairs of jeans, 4 pairs of business slacks, and 2 summery pants. That is too many!
- I still have too much “stuff”. Although I own less than the average American, I can do better.
- I drive a car. I do not ride a bike or walk to do errands.
- We just got our kitchen and my office redone. There is inevitable waste in that process. Always better to keep what one has!
- I know someone who doesn’t buy anything which comes in packaging that cannot be recycled. I don’t do that, although I am very picky about packaging – wont buy something if it is packaged wastefully and often choose a foodstuff over another one due to packaging. I have, however, bought soup or tofu in that aseptic packaging, which is really bad for the environment.
- And probably in many more areas which I cannot think of.
Every move I make, I assess how it affects the environment, but I know I still have a LOT I can do to lessen my impact.
I hope this reply was informative, and that you have gotten a better sense of who I am and how I live my life.