Saturday, October 13, 2012

Eco Hero: Jessica Alba

Today's Project Green Challenge 2012 required participants to write about an eco-hero. The challenge was to create an article and questions we would ask our eco-hero and use sources to find them out. I did the best I could, so please read on!

Why Jessica Alba?

I have wanted to interview Jessica Alba and Christopher Gavigan since the Honest Company came out last year. I have a cover letter on my computer that, for whatever reason, I hesitate to print out and send in the mail. 

I chose Jessica Alba as my eco-hero because she shows that being environmentally friendly can be fun and stylish. I may not be a mother, but I am fully appreciative that someone is looking out for the well-being of our nation’s children. If we look back on Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff, it is during infancy that humans receive the highest concentration of toxic chemicals. Alba and Gavigan have impacted a major step in child development by making sure children’s futures are not impaired, because of unhealthy products. Think about how many children suffer from cancer. Some people may think that being eco-conscious means sacrificing a lot of conventional comforts, but what Alba does is create products that people will love because they are both healthy and practical.

Media Credit:

Jessica Alba
Actress, Co-Founder of The Honest Company

Most people recognize Jessica Alba as an actress from Sin City (2005), Fantastic Four (2005), and a number of Hollywood rom-coms, including The Love Guru (2008) and Little Fockers (2010). Alba, 31, has also earned recognition for her effortless style in several fashion and beauty magazines, including InStyle, People StyleWatch, and Self. 

Within the past few years, Alba has also taken on three other roles: wife, mom and entrepreneur.

In May 2008, Alba married film producer Cash Warren, 33, and welcomed their first daughter, Honor Marie, 4, soon after. Alba, also mother to newborn daughter Haven Garner, 1, claims that motherhood has made her become the person that she “always should have been.” She is proud to say “being a mom is the most profound experience” she has ever had.

When Alba was seven months pregnant with Haven, she was shocked to learn the amount of toxic chemicals found in baby products. After doing some research and reading environmental research by author Christopher Galvin, Alba “hounded” Galvin for a year about how to create a healthier approach to infant products. In 2011, Alba and Galvin founded the Honest Company, which is dedicated to helping mothers use healthy products for their babies.

The Honest Company provides a monthly subscription service which provides different baby essentials, depending on which subscription package the mother chooses. Each product available on the Honest Company website—diapers, household cleaners, baby wipes, etc.—is environmentally friendly and non-toxic.


Did you have any experience in business and entrepreneurship prior to the Honest Company? How did you approach making your aspirations for better baby-care a reality?  
(From what I can tell, I don’t think Alba had experience prior to Honest)

Alba was determined to meet the needs of her children and their health.She did a ton of research:

“Alba had read the work of environmentalist Christopher Gavigan and, seven months into her pregnancy, met him at a book party for his Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home (Penguin/Dutton). The two clicked and decided to become partners in The Honest Company (, which markets plant-based, eco-friendly home cleaning products, diapers and wipes, in addition to other personal care items. 
Alba is a hands-on partner, Gavigan says, and a stickler not only for ensuring that products are free of harsh chemicals but that they perform as well or better than their mass market counterparts. And as a creative personality, Alba has a strong hand in ensuring that the company’s products steer way clear of the drab army greens and bland, empty beiges that are the hallmarks of many eco-friendly goods. “She loves things that are bright and beautiful, multicultural and have a lot of different influences,” Gavigan says of Alba.
Alba, known for movies such as “Sin City,” “Honey” and “Into the Blue,” says she relishes the bookish research that went into getting her company’s products off the ground. “I love science, so I got excited about learning about the hormone disruptors and the endocrine disruptors,” Alba says.”
“That’s exciting to me but not to your average mom. And frankly having that information wasn’t that exciting to me when I was 9½ months pregnant. But moms shouldn’t have to be scientists or even love or appreciate science in order to understand what it is they’re trying to avoid. I wanted to break it down in layman’s terms and make it easy and digestible. I wanted to show, ‘Here’s what you can do, and here’s an alternative.’” --EnergyTimes

What advice would you give to future entrepreneurs?

“What are your top 3 pieces of career advice for young women?
It took me three years to see The Honest Company come to life and, based on the lessons I’ve learned during this time, my top three pieces of advice for young entrepreneurs are:
Understand the marketplace for your business—it’s key.
Have realistic business expectations and come to terms with the fact that it may be too much of a lofty dream and tailor your business plan appropriately.
Stick to your guns—if someone can persuade you to depart from your idea, it’s a sign that the business might not be the right fit for you.”- Forbes

Why is sustainability important to the integrity of the Honest Company?
“Without our health, without our planet – we have nothing. It's serious business and we're in the business of making it better. Since our inception we've tried to re-think how to create a business that promotes health and sustainability. It's definitely a work in progress. There are many great models that we've followed and in some cases we've pioneered new solutions, but there is always room for improvement and we will always try to improve.”—
            (see “Our Principles” and “Healthy & Sustainability Standards” on

What are your favorite products from the Honest Company?
(Jessica Alba really likes advertising the diapers. It’s a trend I’ve seen in most of the photos she takes for the company. The diapers are not only biodegradable, but they’re also pretty cute.)

What are the plans for the Honest Company in the future?
(The Honest Company hopes to build upon their sustainability efforts and continue receiving feedback from customers via social media. Jessica Alba told Forbes that Honest has created 13 new products because of this engagement.)
“Honest Goals
It may be a bit unconventional to include goals directly in our business standards, but we never intended on being conventional. Listing our goals here serves three purposes: 1) It lets you know more about where we're headed; 2) Gives you an opportunity to dream with us (really, we'd love to hear your ideas); 3) And – honestly – when you make your goals public, you're much more likely to reach them.
Let's be better by trying to:
·         Have ALL our body/personal care to meet the NSF standards ... we are half way there now
·         Because we love plants and because of their renewable & sustainable reality (not being a non renewable fossil fuel), have all our product, and our packaging, made entirely (yes – 100%) of plant-based materials
·         Have our company receive Cradle to Cradle Certification
·         Officially complete our B Corps certification (we're on track to reach this goal in 2012!)
·         Have our offices and warehouse LEED certified
·         Work with only manufacturers who are ULE 880 certified”—

Today, the message of sustainability and environmental consciousness is rising among college students. What green practices would you advise college students to follow? What are three products from the Honest Company you could recommend to college students? Why?
 This is a really specific question. Although no answers for this really exist, Whole Living did an article which included the fact the Honest Company does a “family essentials” package.

More info/press about Jessica Alba and The Honest Company can be found in the company’s Media Pantry

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