Jessica Alba, 40, movie star, mother of two, and founder of The Honest Company (specialising in toxin-free household goods) talks to MiNDFOOD about the importance of being green, family, and fitting Hollywood into her busy life.
Five minutes with Jessica Alba
What do you do on a daily basis to make the planet a greener place?
I grew up in southern California, and prior to being an actor I lived and grew up in a drought. I grew up with my grandmother and she grew up in the Depression Era and so everything had multiple uses. Every container you got at the store was going to then be reused to store food or store leftovers or used for lunch. Recycling was just part of how we lived our life. If something was still in good shape, I would wear stuff that was passed down from my cousins and I would pass it down to my other cousins. We never could waste water because we were living in a drought. I remember my grandmother would always make us take birdbaths. And I remember I was so cold as a kid always because the bath was ‘this’ big so that we couldn’t waste water. And that was important. So I think it’s just part of growing up in southern California, and growing up with grandparents that had a mindfulness of not wasting and making the most of what you had.
Do you use recycled water at your home?
No, I want to. I wish we were able to use the gray water. I actually am looking to maybe build a home soon and we’re looking into that type of technology. Basically, you take all of the water from the land and then also from your plumbing and you filter it and then you put it back into the land. And so it’s called gray water. It’s not cheap to put in those systems. It costs a fortune to be more sustainable or to care about the planet. But it is worth it in the long run.
You were inspired to create The Honest Company because you were sick as a child (pneumonia, a collapsed lung, asthma). We have an alarming level of pollution, the water is often contaminated and it seems like whatever we do is dangerous. What’s your take on the situation?
I don’t think everyone is living in all of those completely dire situations. I think for the most part in the United States most people’s quality of living is pretty good compared to other parts of the world. But human health is a concern of mine. It is why I started The Honest Company, because I did want people to have access to products to live a healthier, happier life. I was quite sick as a kid and it wasn’t fun and a lot of illnesses are linked to environmental causes. So there’s a lot of data that show things that are inside your home can actually create more of a polluted environment than outside, even in the city. And so there is always a potential to be exposed to harmful chemicals through everyday products that we all have and that’s why I wanted to create a company to give people options – so they don’t always have to be surrounded by that stuff.
When did you know Honest was going to be a success?
I think initially the success, or those moments of success, came in when people were writing us directly and telling us how we’ve changed their life or made their life better. Whether it was that they suffered from certain types of skin conditions and after using our products they saw not only a reduction but sometimes it would just go away completely, that’s when I knew.
You have two careers and two young daughters.. How do you manage the balancing act?
I think every day it’s different. My kids’ happiness is my priority. As long as they’re happy and taken care of and are healthy then everything else just sort of figures itself out.
You don’t seem to do as many movies as you did a few years ago…
Well, I am picky about what movies I do. I mean it is quite a time commitment and it does take away from my day to day. But if it’s going to be fun and if I can figure out how to block out the time to do it, I will. And certainly, I love doing action movies. My little secret is, there’s nothing I like to do more than action and comedy. Those are my two favourite things. I love the physicality of using your body and just getting into it.