Actress Kristen Bell has been praised for keeping it incredibly real over the years, whether showcasing the highs and messy lows of parenting on Instagram or sharing her over-the-top reactions to adorable animals on Ellen. She’s also been a worthy advocate of going green, sharing tips for how to live a more sustainable lifestyle in a simplified fashion. Recently, she and husband, Dax Shepard, took their eco passions to the next level with the debut of Hello Bello, a line of plant-derived premium baby-care products sold at accessible prices (most items retail less than $10). In Toronto recently, she discussed with The Globe and Mail the line and shared tips for how to maintain a sustainable lifestyle through parenthood.
What was the motivation behind launching Hello Bello?
My husband and I both grew up in Michigan, where both of our parents were on a really strict budget. We’re never not thinking about the fact that we can go to a fancy Los Angeles baby boutique and buy products and not look at the price. And there are a lot of people doing great work in this space. There’s really been a major tidal change and thinking in what babies should be exposed to and what their immune systems are early on and we wanted the accessibility and price point to fit the bill for the families that we grew up with and how we grew up. Dax always says, it’s your mom’s ingredients at your dad’s prices, because he’s very cheap and I read the labels on everything.
Not every ingredient in your products is natural. How did you decide which were and which weren’t?
We rely on the science. What are the ingredients we think in two years will be pulled out? Let’s not even bother with them. The shampoo is mostly aloe because we figured out a way with the efficacy to make it similar to products that work, so no one would ever have to notice a difference, they would just be exposed to healthier things.
Would you say that your entire lifestyle is green?
It’s pretty close, but it’s as much as possible. I started out with cloth diapers for my girls and it wasn’t feasible. I wanted it so badly to be feasible, and it just wasn’t. So, I had to look into the brands that existed at the time that had the lowest footprint and that were the most responsible and make those choices. It’s all about, “Can you do it?��� What’s in your line of sight? You don’t have to walk to work to make small changes. That’s how I try to apply it, it’s just much lower levels of stress.
What are some initial steps you recommend taking towards going green?
We use bamboo toothbrushes now. And there’s a great place called the Package Free Shop that will make dental floss that comes in a glass container that’s refillable and it comes in a paper bag. It’s tiny things like that, but I don’t think any actual change occurs when you guilt people to be greener. You have to give them a product that is greener. This first [Hello Bello] line has exactly the ingredients we want, and my main goal as this company develops is getting away from plastic.
How do you maintain a sustainable parenting style?
I wash out my Ziplocs. Sometimes you need a Ziploc, right? But it’s not awesome to go through 50 Ziplocs a week. When we pack the kids’ lunches, we use beeswax wraps. The beeswax wraps last about six months. I’ve been recently buying most of my kids�� toys on eBay. My kids were really into American Girl dolls. You go on eBay, you’ve got a grandma from Minnesota whose been tending to these toys every day for her grandkids, she wants to sell them for $20 a piece. You’re not making new plastic, you’re putting more money into her pocket – bingo! They don’t care about the wrapping.
You’ve spoken about having a good fake fact detector when it comes to green washing. What do you look for?
Organic means something, natural doesn’t really mean anything. You have to take the time to learn a little bit about it. You have to learn what the ingredients come from and how to read a label. Learning how to read a label is the absolute best detector you could ever have. The transparency of a website is a big deal because that’s your headshot of who you are as a company. Are you telling me what’s in the product? We print the ingredients on products that we’re not mandated to put ingredients on because we want people to know that they’re safe and that we’ve looked at it and it’s effective.
I think it’s hard to ask each individual person to do all this research, but it’s like Malcolm Gladwell says: There will be mavens in any community and maybe I’m one of them because I talk so much about it, where you’ll get a tip from your friend about the bamboo toothbrush or how to read a nutritional label, and it’s a quick way to digest that information as opposed to being daunted trying to Google how to read everything.