Debra Redalia

“The Queen of Green” — New York Times
(1991, The Travails of Living the Green Life )

 
The World’s Leading Expert on Living Green at Home
1989-present

 

Debra was the first
to define, find, use, and recommend to the general public
everyday consumer products that have do less harm to the environment
— even before they were called “green” —
so individuals, society, and all Life can better survive.
And then she continues today to move the field of green products
forward and ever more forward with greater and greater understanding and insight.

 

Debra Redalia (known also as Debra Lynn Dadd) was born and raised in the suburbs of the San Francisco Bay Area. While she had outdoor experiences at Girl Scout camp, for the most part, Debra was a typical American industrial consumer, whose favorite pastime was shopping for industrial products. Debra’s ecosystem was the local shopping mall. Like most other Americans, her life was oriented around making money so she could buy the latest consumer goods.

Debra Leaves Industrial Consumerism

 
 
Debra’s industrial consumer life came to an end in 1978 when she began to experience a strange set of seemingly unrelated symptoms, now known to be an immune system disorder called multiple chemical sensitivity, which is caused by exposure to toxic chemicals in everyday consumer products.
 
To save her life, Debra had to completely remove herself from the usual industrial consumer lifestyle that was harming her body. She had to question every product. When she found that eliminating toxic products restored her health, she wrote the first book on nontoxic products and went on to be the world’s leading expert on toxic-free products for forty years.
 
 
 
 

Debra Discovers Nature

 

In 1984, Debra had an experience that changed her life. A friend brought her a glass jug filled with water from the famous spring in Mt. Shasta City Park. “The crystal clear water flowing through the park begins its journey high on the snow-covered peaks of majestic Mt. Shasta, flowing through underground lava tubes until finally gushing forth into daylight at City Park.”

At this time, Debra was aware that the tap water she and almost everyone else had been drinking was polluted with toxic chemicals, and she had been using and recommending various water purifiers. But when she drank this spring water, in its natural state, charged with minerals and oxygen, she could immediately tell the difference. This water was alive in a way that tap water could never be.

After this Debra no longer wanted to live the city life. She wanted time alone in nature.

In 1985, Debra moved to a cottage in a forest near the Pacific Ocean and for the first time experienced living in an intact ecosystem. The world of nature became real to her as she watched the plum tree burst into blossoms in the spring and the blackberry bushes provide breakfast on summer mornings. She became aware of the cycles of the moon as its light fell through the skylight over her bed. Animals came to visit in her yard. Instead of nature being something off somewhere else, Debra was now living in the natural world every day.

When Debra Met Larry

 

Debra & Larry first photo 1987

In May 1987, Debra Lynn Dadd met Larry Redalia. A mutual friend brought him to a lecture Debra was giving and right then an there he decided he wanted to spend the rest of his life helping her with her daily life so she could put her time and attention on her work. Larry carried Debra’s books to her car after the lecture and that was that.

Immediately after meeting Larry in May, things began to change for Debra, even though they had only met briefly. Suddenly she began finding books about nature that she had never seen or sought before. Then Debra lost her toxics business when her computer crashed in a summer storm and she had no backup. Clearly it was time for a change.

In August Debra and Larry met again when their mutual friend brought Larry to paint Debra’s house.

Larry was not the sort of man that Debra had dated or thought she belonged with. But when he came to her house, she noticed certain qualities about him that were suited to her that she had never experienced before. They were qualities buried so deep within her that she didn’t even know about them yet. They married, and over their lifetime together, it turned out that Larry understood the exact connection with nature and awareness of spirituality that were native, but dormant, in Debra also, and their relationship began to revolve around how they could live as spiritual beings in natural ecosystems.

While Debra is the writer, the ideas she writes about are the result of a lifetime of exploring the subject with Larry.

The Earthwise Consumer

 

Debra’s intense interest in nature led her to begin to research a new criteria for choosing consumer products.

In the autumn of 1989, she began a new newsletter called The Earthwise Consumer, in which she outlined the first definition of products with environmental benefits, which she called “earthwise”.

In 1990, Yoga Journal published a cover story “How to Be An Earthwise Consumer.”

This was before green products became popular.

Debra Develops Some of the First Mass Market Green Products

 

One day in 1990, a man was listening to talk radio and Debra came on as a guest. He loved what she was saying about nature and contacted her. He asked Debra to be part of a research and development team to establish one of the first companies dedicated to the creation and sale of green products.

The eventual result of this R&D was the founding of WorldWise, Inc.

From the beginning, the company relied on Debra’s understanding of Nature to create the Worldwide Guiding Principles, which begin with this statement:

We are all a part of nature, not separate from it. We must live within nature, for if there is no nature, there are no humans. To sustain ourselves, everything we do must be in accordance with nature’s ways. At WorldWise, we are committed to the process of moving towards sustainability — living in such a way that life on earth endures, providing for our needs while maintaining the natural functions, resources and beauty of the planet. Our contribution to the global goal is to provide useful everyday products that sustain both our customers and the Earth, and to educate consumers about sustainable living. Our product selections are rooted in nature. We evaluate the entire lifecycle of products for sustainability, from the harvesting of the resource to recycling it back into the system. Living well within the limits of nature is our goal.

 

As the company grew, Debra compiled an award-winning resource on Sustainable Living, including “Fact sheets for over 100 common products show you how to buy (and make) what you need.”

Worldwise placed the first green products in Walmart, and contributed to their policies on environmental purchasing.

The company was eventually sold to investors, and today Worldwise is a leading brand of innovative pet products that are “attractive, affordable, and accessible to everyone…made principally from recycled, reclaimed, renewable, and certified organic resources,” still sold at Walmart and other mass market retailers.

Debra’s Environmental Books

 

1990

Nontoxic, Natural & Earthwise

Debra added her earthwise criteria to her previous book on nontoxic and natural products, creating the first directory of earthwise products.

1994

Sustaining the Earth

This book focused exclusively on environmental issues to help consumers choose sustainable products.

2008

Really Green

As green products became more and more popular, Debra wrote this small book to clarify exactly what green products are, to help consumers find actual green products in the midst of products that were making false green claims,

Debra & Larry Create The Lifely Group

 

After years of juggling her interests in nature with continuing her work finding and recommending nontoxic products, in June 2019 Debra finally made a decision to hand over toxics to the next generation, and she and Larry together reated The Lifely Group.

It was clear to Debra that in order to solve the environmental crisis we face today, we need to do more than use green products. We need to make a fundamental shift to seeing ourselves as “part and parcel of Nature,” as Henry David Thoreau stated. We need to live according to the ways of Nature rather than as industrial consumers.

The Lifely Group is working on

  • increasing awareness that we humans live in ecosystems
  • collecting and understanding the laws of Life, and
  • translating these laws into guidelines for everyday life.

The goal is nothing less than a metamorphosis from living in an industrial world to living in Nature, from which we were born and where we belong.