Global Green Room Interview: Zem Joaquin

Zem (right) at the Gorgeous & Green event in 2011. As the founder of ecofabulous, an online magazine for sustainable style and design, Zem Joaquin celebrates green living fully -- and, as expected, stylishly. We have been lucky to have Joaquin co-chair our annual Gorgeous & Green gala event in San Francisco (fabulous every year!) and to also have her serve on our Global Green Board of Directors. After this year's Gorgeous & Green event, she answered questions for our Global Green Room Interview.

What would surprise us about your work?

You might be surprised to know that my children review all of the kid-related products for ecofabulous.

Who is your hero?

President Gorbachev is an amazing environmentalist and humanitarian. Meeting him and hearing his vision for nuclear non-proliferation and a cleaner planet in general fueled my activism. His passion compelled me to join the board of Global Green. William McDonough has been an incredible inspiration and mentor. It was the book that he co-authored with chemist Michael Braungart ("Cradle to Cradle") that gave my environmental path direction. When I was creating my house six years ago and I couldn't figure out how to replace a material or solve a function dilemma, Bill offered me his architectural wisdom. Since then, he has helped me hone my vernacular and has encouraged me to find my own unique voice. But before I could even speak, I was being trained. My mother raised me on a commune dedicated to non-violence and environmental-awareness, which I was oblivious to at the time. Growing up (later… not on the shared land), she brought me to health food stores (before there was Whole Foods), reusable bags in hand.

What has been your greatest success so far?

Raising children to understand what phthalates are and why PVC is unacceptable. Leaving a legacy of activism is imperative. Ecofabulous has been pretty great as well.

What about a failure or challenge?

I felt like a failure when I realized my young children were getting sick from the cleaning supplies and new -- off-gassing -- furniture I had filled my house with. Luckily, that wake-up call not only prompted me to create a significantly healthier environment for kids, it set me on my path of activism.

If you had the power to make one global and green change, what would it be?

I would make "Cradle to Cradle" required reading for all students, especially those studying design.