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Anna Getty Interview with Greener Living Today

Anna Getty has a diverse profile: actress, chef, Kundalini yoga teacher, author, mother, environmental activist, and now green living and holistic lifestyle expert. She recently agreed to sit down for an interview with Greener Living Today.

Greener Living Today:
Can you tell us about your upbringing and your family’s lifestyle?

Anna Getty:
It is always a funny question because I think my life is very different in actuality than how people imagine it to be. I have this background on my father’s side. My mother is from a small German town, from a very poor family, and a working class family, post world war Germany. She and her twin sister were hippies and met my dad in Rome, who was also a hippie. Although he was part of this family, he was very much anti-establishment and chose to be a rebel in his own mind. He was very, very young when they decided to get married. She was a few years older and they weren’t very well received in the family, for choosing to get married very young and have children at a very young age. anna_getty_featured_lg1They were kind of banished in a way. Our family lived a very simple life. We lived up in Laurel Canyon in a tiny house. Our electricity was always being turned off. Eventually my parents were divorced and my brother and I were with my mom. It was kind of like a feast or famine situation. I’d be with my dad, and it wasn’t limos, private planes and helicopters and things like that, but it was a nice lifestyle. With my mom, it was much simpler. We had a little organic herb garden in the back of our apartment; many of our clothes came from friends and neighbors. We spent a lot of time at the Green Gulch Center in Marin County. I feel very blessed because I was exposed to a lot. My mother was in a Japanese drumming band and involved in the Japan Center in the Japanese community. It was very eclectic. One thing that I constantly have to remind people of is that when you are an heir, you get money when people die. So, I know that many parents, whether it’s out of guilt, or by choice, decide to endow their children with a lot of money when they’re very young. My brother and I, we’re not like that. My brother has been making his own living since he was thirteen as an actor. I started a baby sitting company when I was twelve. Then I worked at my grandmother’s antique shop. I was a messenger for a couple of years and I worked as a caterer for seven years. So, we’ve always worked. People have passed on in my family and things have changed a little bit, but not in a drastic way. Even though my father, aunts and uncles live a very wonderful lifestyle, most of them drive Priuses and they’re putting in solar panels at their properties.

Greener Living Today:
Where did you grow up?

anna_getty_featured_lg2Anna Getty:
For a few years I was in Germany, then in Italy. I spent most of my prominent years in San Francisco, almost nine years. I went to a Waldorf school with my brother, so everything was very nature oriented and magical. We spent a lot of time in Marin County. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. Then I went to Paris for three years to study at the Sorbonne, and came back again to pursue acting. That one thing has changed for me in terms of my career choices. I was really focused on being an actress for many years and I had some success. I was on ER and a guest star on other TV shows and commercials. One day I woke up and thought, I’m not serving anything but my ego. I want to make a living, but I want to do it by helping and inspiring people. I took teacher training for Kundalini yoga and that same time I was working in a catering kitchen assisting and learning about food. My boss was very much involved in the organic movement. That’s where things shifted. I was introduced to the Organic Center for Education, which is now the Organic Center. I became very involved with them both philanthropically and with my time and energy. Then I became pregnant and did the prenatal teacher training. Once I became pregnant, I became obsessed with the green life and literally cleaned house.

Greener Living Today:
Now you are a green living expert. What is your definition of a green lifestyle?

Anna Getty:
I don’t really feel that it’s about having a green lifestyle; I think it’s more of a consciousness. That’s why I call myself a holistic lifestyle expert, even though green is a major component. What I’m trying to encourage people to do is think of it more like the whole gestalt of it, all of the pieces in terms of the way you live, breathe, shop, walk, talk, raise your children, and interact with your community. To be less green focused and more holistic. What is my relationship to the planet? What is my relationship to my community? What is my relationship to my family and friends? Really looking at one’s life and yes, it is green because you develop a deeper relationship to the planet and to the people around you. It’s more about ecology. I feel like people look at the green lifestyle and say it’s a trend, a concept for wealthy and privileged people. The approach I’ve been taking recently, especially because of the economy, is to show that you save money and resources just by making different choices. People really love to save money. Everyone I know, whether they’re rich or poor, everyone wants to save money, everyone wants a deal and everyone, especially now, actually has to.

Greener Living Today:
How hard was it to adapt a green lifestyle after coming from such a privileged background?

Anna Getty:
In my own particular lifestyle, I’ve never been a big consumer. Oftentimes I had the financial resources to go out and buy a Prada bag, not thirty Prada bags, but one or two or three. I was definitely more of a consumer three years ago than I am now, but not in a very luxurious way. I probably spend the most of what I earn on food at Whole Foods, farmers markets and health food stores. I really started looking at my footprint and started asking myself, do I need this bag; do I need this bag because it’s the most recent in the current season? We put every luxury bag in a pouch, then in tissue paper, then in a box and then in a bag. It’s just unbelievable! Just to be cool and stylish and fashionable. I’ve been carrying my cloth bags to department stores and grocery stores for the last five years. I bring them everywhere. So it really wasn’t that hard. I grew up always driving a Honda Civic. I had three Honda Civics back to back while I was a student, because it was about saving money. So, it hasn’t been hard.

Greener Living Today:
Over the years you have developed a green business empire. Can you elaborate on the type of retreats and workshops that are available and product lines that you sell?

Anna Getty:
We have this house in Italy that my husband and I got a few years ago, and the goal has been to create a luxury eco retreat center. It’s very much a work in progress that we see happening over years. Now, the more that I’m involved in my community and in various not-for-profits, and seeing what’s going on in the world, the concept has changed.  We have switched from creating an eco luxury retreat center to a place where anyone can come. Even if you can’t pay, you can come and work in our organic garden, or help us pick olives from our organic olive trees in exchange for your stay.  We want a community center. This is years down the road. We haven’t had any retreats and while it’s not a ruin, many areas aren’t livable on the property. Meanwhile I have my DVD line of pre and postnatal yoga workouts. I partnered with a small jewelry company and designed a limited edition necklace and bracelet. More importantly, I have two books soon to be released, a cookbook and an eco Christmas book called “I am Dreaming of a Green Christmas”. Even with the economy being what it is, it’s the most wasteful time of year all over the world. I think this book will be great because people are going to be much more aware of the money they spend. This book helps you take everything out of your closet, your garage, your attic, your basement and make things, decorations, ornaments, gifts, etc.

Greener Living Today:
What inspired you to write the book?

anna_getty_featured_lg3Anna Getty:
I was actually approached to write the cookbook first. Both books are for Chronicle, which is a wonderful publisher up in San Francisco. The first book called “Anna Getty’s Easy Green Organic Kitchen”, is to help you green the kitchen. There’s a few chapters on that and then there’s a hundred recipes promoting organic ingredients, along with facts contributed by The Organic Center for Education and green tips. As I was writing the book, Chronicle came to me and said there’s an editor in-house who has this eco Christmas idea and we think you’d be perfect for it. The literary agent I was working with at the time said you can’t say no to this. Maybe you’re already writing this one book, but you have to hire a ghostwriter. This is a marketing opportunity and it’s important for you to get your expertise out there. So, I did. I was writing the cookbook and realized that there’s no possible human way to do both with the deadlines so close together. I found a wonderful ghostwriter who became my team mate. My manager said I shouldn’t be telling people that, but I really valued her.  I understood the benefits of a ghostwriter and if I were ever to be doing two books at once again, I would do it that way.  But I won’t ever do it again, not for all of the tea in China. It was so stressful! In addition to the two books I am the eco editor for Pregnancy Magazine. I have a campaign that I launched called Pregnancy Awareness Month, which is the month of May. It helps empower women before, during and after pregnancy. The campaign is very much about helping moms find the right resources, and going green. It’s not green focused, but it’s holistically helping with the whole picture of pregnancy, and having the healthiest possible pregnancy.

Greener Living Today:
There are many global warming and green activists out there today. Who inspires you the most?

Anna Getty:
You know, I’d have to say Al Gore is probably my hero. I’m constantly tracking his public speaking engagements online. I love Rachel Carson, who is no longer with us. Sandra Steingraber, she’s a scientist who is challenging the system. Al Gore is very inspiring. I feel like he’s somebody’s who’s within the system, but also challenging the system.

Greener Living Today:
Are there any new projects planned for the near future?

anna_getty_featured_lg4Anna Getty:
Well, not at the moment. I’m seven months pregnant with my second child, who is due in July, so he’s kind of the next project. Then, continued work on Pregnancy Awareness Month, it’s growing and this year is our second year. The Christmas book comes out November first and the organic cookbook comes out in March 2010, so there will be a lot of energy in promoting those on my end.

Greener Living Today:
What tips can you offer people who want to make a serious change in their lifestyle and contribute to the betterment of the planet?

Anna Getty:
I always say just start with one thing. Something that you feel is doable in your life. For example, if you have not gotten your recycling program in order, it’s time to start. There are no more excuses. Bags. There is no reason you should be taking bags from any business or anyone. Bring your bags. Yes, you will forget at first. It took me a couple of months. If you’re in the grocery store and you forgot them, you better go out to the car and get them. I carry five or six little ChicoBags in my purse. So, they’re always with me and I never, ever, not have bags. In addition I have twenty five stuffed in my trunk. That’s a great way to minimize garbage in your house. Stop using plastic. Stop buying plastic water bottles. Invest four or five hundred dollars in a water filtration system. Stop using pesticides on your lawn. Be conscientious of your water use. Again, start creating a relationship with your community.

You can learn more about Anna Getty by visiting her website located at:
http://www.purestyleliving.com

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