An Interview With "Eco-Pioneer" Priscilla Woolworth, Author of LOLA Lots of Love Always


The first time I heard about Priscilla Woolworth was when she was named a "New Green Pioneer" in Time Magazine. Of course, having grown up in New York, her name was more than familiar. Priscilla is the granddaughter of the founder of Woolworth's, the iconic chain of "five and dime" stores. Connecting with Priscilla brought back a flood of warmhearted memories of accompanying my mom on shopping trips to Woolworth's for "odds and ends."

When Priscilla became a mom, she began creating books for her two daughters about making healthy choices. After producing 40 volumes (talk about mother love!), she decided to compile her tips into a book for young women, LOLA Lots of Love Always.

Here's my interview for with Priscilla Woolworth:

Moms Clean Air Force: What is LOLA? Why did you write the book?

Priscilla Woolworth: LOLA Lots of Love Always is a book I wrote for young women about how to live a sustainable lifestyle and make healthy choices that are good for them and the planet. It's a health and lifestyle reference book that's a good read for everyone. Witnessing when my own two daughters were teenagers, being bombarded by confusing and conflicting information from foods to beauty aids, I tried to give them guidance at any opportunity. But they didn't always want to hear it from me. LOLA is as much a book meant to empower young women to make informed and healthy choices, as it is for all us parents who try our best to educate our children.

From sourcing healthy foods to natural beauty to fostering clean air environments, LOLA provides simple sustainable solutions. Please share your simple solution for breathing clean indoor air?

Adding houseplants which help purify the air to using either clean burning soy based or LED flameless candles, I also found that I could breathe better in my home when I switched to using chemical-free cleaning products, or even better, making my own.

What are 3 of the most important steps moms can take to empower their daughters to make informed and healthy choices?

Eat an increasingly plant based diet made from organically grown foods, choose toxin-free beauty care products from shampoo to moisturizer, lipstick and even nail polish, and reduce their exposure to plastic by using glass reusable containers for all food storage needs.

LOLA says to boycott toxins. What's the best way to do that?

Learn what those toxins are, learn their names by heart and then check every label on products before buying. We can use our purchasing power as a tool for positive change and support manufacturers of non-toxic brands. Help make them the norm rather than the exception for everyone.

Recycling and repurposing are the cornerstones of sustainable living. LOLA provides ways to go "beyond" the recycling bin. Tell us about some of those actions.

Besides the usual things we all recycle, there are many more that can be as well from cell phones, to books, CD's and DVD's, eyeglasses and batteries. Every little bit makes a difference in reducing the amount of waste that goes out to our overfilled landfills. It feels good making the little extra effort and it's a wonderful role model for our children.

LOLA offers terrific natural remedies for common ailments. We know air pollution is an asthma trigger. With 1 in 12 people in the US suffering from asthma, do you have any remedies for asthma?

Avoid triggers such as cleaning products that contain toxic chemicals, and also removing shoes before entering your home is a great way to prevent pesticides, toxins, and other chemicals from being tracked indoors and then polluting the indoor air. I've read that drinking plenty of water, eating organically grown foods and also eating ginger and turmeric regularly helps because of their anti-inflammatory effects. When congested, or for improving breathing, fill a medium size glass bowl with 2 cups of boiled water and add 3 small drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Sit in front of the bowl, with a towel over your head and inhale the steam for a few minutes. It's an old-fashioned recipe that is very soothing and one I learned from my grandmother in France.

I don't ever remember seeing tips for adapting to extreme weather and natural disasters in a women's resource book. Why did you include those in LOLA?

Even though it doesn't sound like information that would naturally be included in a book about sustainable living, regardless, I felt that it was important enough to be worthy of a chapter. Being as prepared as possible in the event of a crisis, and there seems to be one any given day somewhere in the world, I hope will help them deal with emergencies in a responsible way. Peace of mind for them and also for parents who may be too far away to be able to help.

At Moms Clean Air Force, we say moms have passion and power - an unbeatable combination. We advocate for harnessing the strength of mother love to fight back against those who pollute our children's bodies and environment. You share a friendship with Dr. Jane Goodall, one of the most admired women activists. What have you learned from her?

She doesn't just talk about the ways we can heal the environment, she leads by example, with grace and when appropriate, humor as well. I always look forward to spending time with her.

Why is activism and volunteerism so important for women of all ages?

I brought my daughters up to think how they can contribute to their community and the world at large, and that every kindness and generous action, nourishes the soul. It's a win-win all around. You can get involved with a cause that is important to you and feel that you are actively helping to make a difference, rather than standing by feeling helpless. It's a wonderful way to contribute your time to making a positive difference in the lives of others.

LOLA lists your favorite books. What are your 3 favorite environmental books?

The Better World Shopping Guide by Ellis Jones was one of the first books I put in my store and after many years, it's still my favorite reference guide on how to be a socially and environmentally responsible consumer. Ecoholic by Adria Vasil is full of all sorts of practical eco information from Canada. I even wrote on the cover: "fabulous book!" For the last choice, it's a tie between The Body Shop founder Anita Roddick's Body and Soul and HRH The Prince of Wales's pamphlet On The Future of Food. The first is completely inspiring. Through The Body Shop, Anita Roddick brought attention to issues ranging from social responsibility and respect for human rights to protection of the environment and animals. On The Future of Food is a thought-provoking call to action for sustainable farming practices, and every page of my copy is chock full of highlighted sections that ring true to how I feel.

What's next for LOLA and you?

I created the LOLA blog and twice a month newsletter as a natural extension to the LOLA book and will continue to grow it, including the latest resources and tips. There are requests for a LOLA for boys, LOLA + for the over 60 and a LOLA for new mothers, and I'm looking into possibilities of having LOLA translated into other languages, as well as adapted and personalized for each country. So stand by for updates!

Anything else you'd like tell the MCAF members?

To keep on fighting the good fight and know that your voice is being heard!