Blog image

Eco-Hero: Liza Turalli

April 2010

By Kateri O'Neil, Los Angeles

LA-based Liza Turalli teaches fifth-graders and spends her free time volunteering, studying to become a Master Gardener, hiking in Laurel Canyon and Griffith Park, practicing yoga, and inspiring her peers and neighbors to live a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle.

Kateri: Do you find it challenging to maintain a “green” lifestyle in LA?

Liza: It’s definitely taken a while for a green mentality to penetrate the LA’s collective psyche, but people are definitely more aware of – and interested in – green living. Over the past few years, I’ve seen dozens of eco-boutiques pop up around town, and there has been more of an effort of the city’s part to promote public transportation and cycling. The primary obstacle is transportation – and while I ride my bike and take mass transit as often as possible, I am sometimes tempted to purchase a car. While I truly enjoy taking the bus and subway (LA’s best-kept secret!), my schedule is so busy that I’m definitely sacrificing time.

I’m contemplating purchasing a Prius or a Scion since they’re more fuel-efficient than most cars on the market. Although I’m also looking into buying a car that runs on vegetable oil. That said, I don’t understand why we aren’t all driving around electric and/or solar-powered cars! I just read an article about that solar-powered model airplane that made it around the world without stopping once! I really hope this BP fiasco will incite more consumers to reconsider their decisions – we certainly have access to other renewable resources that can allow us to reclaim our independence from fossil fuels. As such, we will not only be preventing future environmental disasters, but also saving our atmosphere from detrimental carbon emissions.

Kateri: What community organizations are inspiring the most change vis-à-vis the green movement in LA?

Liza: The LA County Bike Coalition, Bicycle Kitchen and the Bike Oven offer cheap lessons, tools and events to make life easier and fun for people trying to make biking as their primary mode of transportation in LA.

Farmlab is another incredible educational resource. I try to attend their free Friday lunchtime lectures and panels to link up with like-minded folks and discuss developments in long-term thinking and the overall sustainability of our planet. I find the Farmlab salons really insightful, and it’s encouraging and motivating to engage with an active and progressive community.

The Echo Park Time Bank is also a cool concept, allowing people to trade time and skills – it’s a very simple and fundamental idea that works on an honor system. I think people are beginning to appreciate the value of both skills and time, so trading and bartering is starting to catch on as a form of currency – especially in this economy! Furthermore, people are evidently growing tired of disposable commodities and are seeking to extend the life of their possessions through trade, recycling, and re-appropriation. Finally, I also volunteer at Tree People to do my part!

Kateri: As a consumer, what criteria do you look for when you purchase goods?

Liza: I’m look for durability and longevity when it comes to household items and clothing. Companies like the LA Box Collective are really inspiring since they make use of salvaged, restructured, and repurposed wood for some incredibly unique pieces. If only companies would make things to last like they used to! I also try to shop local as often as possible.

Kateri: Can you name a few brands you deem exemplary when it comes to sustainability?

Liza: In terms of clothing, TOMS has certainly set the bar high in regard to quality and ethos, but there are, of course, other brands worthy of the “eco-fashion” label.

For higher-fashion, I’ve heard Avita and Loudermilk mentioned with high praise. Etsy can also be a decent online resource for handmade, organic goods.

I personally enjoy supporting creativity and skill directly at the source itself. When I want to invest in cool green household items and furniture, I head to Kelly Green.

I try to buy household cleaning products in bulk to recycle old containers, but Seventh Generation seems to be committed to conscious consumption and transparency, which is usually what I find lacking in most brands. I wish we all had access to more facts uncovered by watchdogs. Companies are allowed to make so many false claims without being reprimanded. Ultimately, it’s unfortunately all a matter of perception for the mass consumer…

Kateri: How about green entertainment? Do you go out to eat at restaurants or spend money on green luxury items?

Liza: I’m a big fan of Slow Food LA's events and workshops and when I go out to eat, I am a regular patron at Cru, an organic, raw food restaurant with a creative menu in Silverlake.

I think a lot of restaurants get away with putting “organic” on their menu without actually extending themselves in any socially or environmentally conscious capacities. I guess I’m somewhat of a locavore in that I’d rather buy local produce and cook with friends than indulge in a meal in a purported “green” restaurant that really isn’t as eco-friendly as they seem to claim.

I rarely set out to pamper myself, but Natural Mind just opened up in my neighborhood and it’s worth a trip for a range of biodynamic spa treatments – and to see the spa’s vertical garden!

Right across the street is another indulgence: Naturewell, where a delectable assortment of raw and vegan smoothies are concocted. Otherwise, an expedition to Whole Foods is, in itself, an outing!

Los Angeles

Subscribe Form