To say that John Vlahakis is passionate about the environment is an understatement. The founder and president of Earth Friendly Products, manufacturer of the top-selling ECOS “green” laundry detergent and many other 100% natural cleansers, authored a book called Green Bites: Ecologic Musings from the Front. This ode to all things green educates without being preachy. We recently spoke to John about writing a book and being green.
Why did you decide to write the book?
Several reasons. I always wanted to write a book. I thought it might be a good tie in, something I’d do for the business. It became more than that– it became personal. I started a blog, The Earthy Report, in early 2009, which helped with the discipline of writing. I had an idea for a book to interview people making an impact environmentally, but trying to arrange schedules is difficult. So I began to talk about issues that were important for me. I wanted the book to be more than just another green book, not preachy or negative. There’s so much negativity, people get turned off. There are so many things I found that were positive and I wanted to accentuate the positive. In the green business, people tend to get insulated and so you look for a way to reach people. Most will say that all they do is recycle cans and they’re not in tune to the issues. I wanted to get people’s attention. The idea was to write smaller vignettes rather than long chapters so people didn’t get bored. People tell me that they love it, and are learning things they didn’t know about. That’s what I wanted. They walked away with something. I changed a perception.
How long did it take to write?
One year to write, from when I started, then to book design and layout. Then I held off publishing it until the spring to coincide with a natural product industry trade show in Anaheim. It was released in March.
If there was one thing people could take away from this book, what should it be?
I hope there is something that caught their interest that made them change something in their life. It could be as insignificant as unplugging things in the house, or deciding that the next car they buy will be a hybrid, or changing to CFL bulbs, or get involved locally. I hope people would gain a new, different perspective on the environment and taking care of it.
What’s something easy people can do to “be green?”
Find a way to cut down driving. Do you really need to shop as much? It’s a conscientious choice. I’m a big fan of Amazon.com, so I don’t have to go to the store to buy stuff. There’s still some transportation involved to get it to me, but I don’t waste time going from store to store. People could move closer to where they work. We could invest in the towns we live in so we can shop locally and support local merchants. It can cost more, but you’re saving on gas, time. Shop locally when you can vs. driving long distances. When you go to buy your next vehicle, buy a hybrid or something that gets over 40 mpg.
Look at how you eat. Do not eat genetically-modified (GMO) foods. Consumers need to ask grocers to carry non-GMO foods. Only Whole Foods is pushing that, and will be 100% non-GMO in the next year. This will push farmers to go back to a natural-based seed. It’s better for us and better for the planet.
We can collect rain water in a barrel and use it to water flowers. This would dramatically cut down your water bill!
What’s next for you?
Running the business as usual and taking care of family. I look for ways to mix it up, making it more interesting. Not sure what’s next, just promoting the book.