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Vanessa Rae is a reporter, host, producer, and writer who loves telling a great story. A New York native, she enjoys talking to interesting characters on the street just as much as interviewing major celebrities.
You may have seen Vanessa hosting several series for the Today show/Today.com, interviewing actors, musicians, and comedians for AXS Live, or testing out the hottest new gadgets and technology as the host of Syfy’s DVICE TV.
Here, she shares her thoughts with Eluxe on taming flyaway hair, retail therapy and government responsibility.
What’s the most positive thing you do for the environment in your daily life?
I’m a vegan, which has many positives. It’s great for animals, very healthy, and it has a huge positive impact on the environment.
What’s your greatest eco ‘sin’?
I love eating out and I don’t like to waste food. That means I’m often guilty of leaving restaurants with a doggie bag. I also get take out or have food delivered sometimes. Unfortunately most restaurants don’t have compostable takeaway containers. I do ask that they don’t give me any plastic bags, plastic utensils, etc. Living in New York I use public transportation and don’t often drive, but I do travel a lot which means flying on planes.
What would be your eco-friendly dream travel destination?
I have done a lot of traveling where I seek out sustainable tourism activities. While I was in Laos, I visited the Elephant Park Project with Tiger Trail, and there was a lot of eco tourism in Costa Rica. I think for my dream eco-friendly travel destination I’d love to go to a luxury eco-resort. That way I could relax knowing that everything there is sustainable. A place like Alila Villas Soori would be perfect especially because I really want to spend time in Bali.
Do you have any favourite ‘green’ fashion brands?
Definitely! For coats there’s a great vegan brand based in Brooklyn called Vaute Couture. WildLife Works is a company that helps protect threatened wildlife, forests, and communities, sells carbon offsets, and also happens to have a very cool fashion line. Neuaura is an eco-conscious, animal-free foot wear company. The Neuaura Reneu is super comfortable, great for walking around the city, but they don’t look like what you picture when you think of a comfort line.
Matt & Nat is a vegan and eco-friendly bag company that uses eco/recycled/upcycled materials. The name stands for Mat(t)erial and Nature. I have a wallet, Malone bag, and an Alter bag that can easily fit a laptop, tablet, important papers, etc. so it’s a great work bag.
This summer I was rocking a hat made by Tilley called The Mashup Hat. The fabric is made from recycled hemp & organic cotton which is supposed to protect the wearer from the sun’s harmful rays (blocks 98% UVA/UVB radiation, delivers ultraviolet protection factor of 50+).
Sustainable fashion brands are easier to find than ever before since there are now online sites like Zady.com, shop ethica, Modavanti, Raven & Lily, and A Boy Named Sue that carry a variety of great eco-friendly labels. They’re showcasing quality products, making them available to people who may not otherwise have the opportunity to purchase them, and informing people about how and where the products are made.
Do you use any organic skincare brands?
Yes! Some that I’ve been using and am really excited about: Suntegrity is an all natural anti ageing vegan sunblock & moisturiser that is tinted so it’s great to put on when you don’t have a lot of time for makeup.
Bare Skin Beauty is an eco friendly skincare line out of the UK with great all natural ingredients. Yarok is a 100% vegan and eco-friendly hair care line. I like the leave-in conditioner. Flyaway hair is always a HUGE issue for me on-camera. I found an all natural vegan hairspray from Aubrey called Natural Missst Regular Hold that works well.
For the bath or shower I use Dr. Bronner’s (I like the almond, peppermint, or lavender which is great for spring). I also really like the bath products from Rain Africa. The Winter Therapy bath soak is great when I have a cold and the mustard green & ginger bath soak is nice to relieve sore muscles.
Which celeb spokesperson for the environment do you most admire, and why?
I admire any celebrity who uses his or her fame and social capital to make a positive difference. It’s really exciting to see celebrities who embrace a positive cause because it usually means they will be able to help generate more media coverage and help raise funds. They have the opportunity to inspire their fans to get involved and help create positive changes.
How would you like to change your work to be more eco-friendly?
On a set, time is money so people are always rushing to get things done on time and on budget. Especially on bigger sets, there seems to be a lot of waste when it comes to eating. I’d love to see the use of refillable drink containers and a water fountain (instead of smaller plastic water bottles), compostable plates and cutlery, and even a place to throw food scraps and other waste to be composted.
As far as the camera and editing equipment goes, wouldn’t it be great if it could all run on solar power, other renewable energy, or even user generated energy? When I think about all the time I spend running on a treadmill or in a cycling class, I really wish all of that energy could be used to power my computer.
Which eco issues are most important to you?
Overconsumption is a big one. I’ve definitely been guilty of following fashion trends and over consuming. Somewhere along the line we started being told that we constantly needed to purchase the newest, bigger, faster, shinier products on the market even if the ones we already have are perfectly fine.
I can totally relate to retail therapy; it feels great to get something new. But I think it’s really important as a society to examine how consumption and waste are harming the planet. When I buy something, I plan to have it forever. So I buy special items that I really love. If something breaks and can’t be repaired (especially electronics) I find a way to recycle it.
Besides recycling and repurposing goods, I think clothing swaps (shopping your friends’ closets while clearing out your own) are great steps in the right direction. And you do get that special feeling of getting something new.
Besides over consumption and waste, I think being able to purchase food grown locally has a huge effect on the environment. It reduces the resources needed to ship produce and the pollution created in the process. Ideally people in a city like New York would be able to use available rooftop space for growing fruits and vegetables. Hopefully that would result in lower costs for healthy food and a surplus that could be given to people in need. And of course, the production of food made from animals is creating a lot of negative problems for the environment. I think plant based vegan diets are the way to go, for so many reasons.
How do you think governments can best act to help stop climate change?
They need to work with other governments, since it’s a problem that concerns everyone and everything on the planet. Governments can promote energy-efficient businesses and households by incentivising sustainability via tax breaks and penalising organisations that are contributing to the problem (via carbon taxes). It’s great that some companies purchase carbon credits, it would be even better if they found ways to reduce their carbon footprints in the first place. Governments can encourage companies to work together and share resources to reduce waste.
Governments can include sustainability as a major criteria when deciding which companies will receive government contracts. Governments can encourage businesses to use more eco friendly packaging (lose the Styrofoam), to stop using disposable plates, cups, and cutlery in break rooms, to source resources locally to reduce shipping, and to get energy audits so they are aware of how much energy they are actually using. If retail businesses stopped using plastic bags, that would have a huge impact.
Governments can also give incentives to companies that build sustainable homes, office buildings, and retail spaces as well as the people and companies who occupy them. Governments can create sustainability education programs in schools and scholarship funds for people pursuing higher education degrees so they can study sustainability and work on solutions.