Trudie Styler on Rainforest Preservation and Human Spirit


 

The following originally appeared in Organic Spa Magazine.

Trudie Styler — actor, producer, director, human rights activist,
environmentalist and organic farmer — founded the Rainforest Foundation Fund with
her husband, Sting, in 1989. Styler's annual
Sting & Friends' Rainforest Foundation Benefit Concert at Carnegie Hall in
New City, which marks its 23rd anniversary on April 3, is a
celebration of hope and the human spirit. Organic Spa Magazine's style and
sustainability correspondent Zoe Helene caught up with Styler this month.

 

Zoe Helene: What inspires you to do this work, and what keeps
you going through the tough spots?

Trudie Styler: I've been very
fortunate in life, and I've had many opportunities to see the world and meet
some extraordinary people. Having witnessed environmental catastrophe and the
human suffering that results, I feel a responsibility to do what I can to try
to make a difference. Luckily I have a lot of energy, and I like a challenge,
so I'm honored to be able to channel that energy to raise awareness about important
issues.

 

You've
made impressive progress.

Since
we began the Rainforest Foundation all those years ago, we have helped local
indigenous communities gain legal rights to protect more than 100,000 square
kilometers of forest. Our current program of projects will protect a further 1
million square kilometers. That's the combined area of Texas, Washington, and
Pennsylvania. We are now supporting the fight against deforestation in 23
countries, covering all the major tropical regions. And as we protect the
rainforest, we help to sustain the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of its
people.

 

The year marks the 23rd anniversary of the benefit concert April 3rd. As producer you will be surrounded by positive
people who care enough to attend and contribute. Yet
still the rainforests around the world continue
to be aggressively destroyed and deforestation seems to only be accelerating.

It's true that deforestation continues, but actually
I believe that we are beginning to see some major changes now in attitude. It's
becoming more widely accepted that deforestation is the biggest single cause of
greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. And economics are now playing a part — I
think we are actually on the cusp of a major shift in how economics and
environmental conservation are connected.

The Brazilian government is taking a tougher stance on illegal
logging in the rainforest, and indeed the National Institute for Space Research
has said that between August 2010 and July 2011 deforestation dropped 11% from
the previous year. So I have hope.

 

A growing number of people are willing
to face the facts, but against the sheer power and magnitude
of destructive forces, it is easy to feel helpless. We're grieving. How
can
everyday people help?

We can all speak out against injustice. The power of the
individual is a very real force — it may take time and commitment to achieve
our goals, but one by one each voice joins together as we stand up for what we
believe. There have been huge changes in the world in our lifetime —
technological changes brought about by creative and imaginative individuals and
social changes brought about by courageous and fair-minded people. I never
underestimate the power of being true to oneself and taking a stand.

 

Traveling to remote Amazonian villages means
long river rides. Along the way it is not unusual to
see massive timber barges riding low in the water, loaded down
with felled giants like so
many Lincoln-logs, with still more logs dragging
behind in the water. We're talking old
growth
trees.
Is
this Dr. Seuss' The Lorax all
over again?

We live in an industrialized society, and that isn't going to
change, and I know it is sometimes easy to imagine that we will continue
destroying the world until there is nothing left but perhaps one seed with
which to start again, like in the story. However, we have a real opportunity to
build a new global economy based on environmental conservation. If money makes
the world go around, I see a future where it will continue to do so but maybe
in a very different way — a way that supports the life of the Earth instead of
exploiting it.

 

Most consumers would not chose to buy
rainforest-harvested wood if it was clearly marked as such, just
as they would not chose to buy GMO foods or child-labor manufactured
goods. Why then are co
mpanies not required by law to mark rainforest-harvested wood supplies
and products?

Well that's a
very good question. I believe very strongly that labeling of products is
extremely important, and that governments around the world should legislate to
make that happen. I believe it would enforce corporate responsibility, it would
give consumers genuine choice, and in the long run I'm certain it would
increase the markets for eco-friendly and harm-free natural products.

 

How do you protect
your mind/body/spirit from the degree of man's inhumanity
towards man and nature that you witness out there on
the front-lines?

While there are some terribly harsh realities in the world —
caused both by humankind and by nature — the resilience of the human spirit is
always remarkable and inspiring. For every harmful deed there are many more
acts of compassion, and ultimately this supports my continued faith in human
nature.

 

I'm looking
forward to watching your new yoga, Pilates and dance workout DVDs. How does staying healthy,
strong and vibrant support your work?

Staying fit is
vitally important to me. Good nutrition is the cornerstone of good health,
mental clarity and high energy levels, and I'm passionate about the value of
organic food. Exercise is another key ingredient — I work out most days and the
time I spend on staying strong and mobile pays back dividends in terms of my
energy, how much I can get done every day, and my quality of life.


The 'Sting & Friends'
Rainforest Foundation Benefit Concert
will be at Carnegie Hall, New York City, April 3rd. 

Learn more about the Gaiam Trudie Styler 5
DVD yoga,
Pilates and dance workouts set here

Photos by Zoe Helene