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Celebrity Mom Q&A: Kelly Rutherford

Gossip Girl star and NYC mother of two

We love Kelly Rutherford as UES socialite Lily van der Woodsen on Gossip Girl (and of course we adored her as heart-of-gold Megan Lewis Mancini on Melrose Place, back in the day). But what really impresses us is the way Rutherford passionately advocates raising city kids eco-consciously.  During a recent chat in New York, Rutherford told StrollerTraffic how she manages green living in the concrete jungle with her two young children, three-year-old Hermes (whose namesake is, yes, her favorite designer label), and Helena, aged 9 months.

Q. So tell us: exactly how green are you?
A. I’m as green as I can be in every day life. I do what I can. We recycle. We don’t let water drip. All the containers we use are biodegradable. I have a (Toyota) Prius in LA.

Q. When did you first start adopting an eco-friendlier lifestyle?
A. When Mrs Gooch’s (later acquired by Whole Foods) opened in Beverly Hills. I moved to LA to act when I was 19 or 20, and I remember buying Seventh Generation products for my home. I’d recycle and read about nutrition and health. Then when I got pregnant it really changed, I started thinking more globally.

Q. How do you teach the kids to be green?
A. It’s hard, but in little ways: not to keep water running when brushing teeth. Hermes wants to run a hose to clean his cars (in the backyard) and we just go with that, but we teach him not to just let it run. I mean, when I was a kid the hose probably ran all afternoon.  Parents need to take the pressure off themselves. I think the more fun you have with being green . . . it grows your awareness.
 
Q. What are some fun ways, then, to teach kids about living greener lives?
A. Definitely by re-using a lot of things. If we get a gift, we save all the papers and ribbons, and re-use them to make art projects. We do the same with boxes. We just made a huge fun house from boxes delivered by UPS. We taped them all up, painted it, and made a great playhouse! With ribbons, we tape them down and make roadways for cars.
 
Q. Do you eat strictly organic?
A. At home, I feed them all organic. Hermes loves sweets. I don’t want to deny him sweets, but at home we use agave, and organic Nutella. I’ll put the Nutella on a rice cake, very thin so it’s sweet but not rich. He eats a ton of vegetables and fruit. I can make him a whole plate of steamed vegetables and olive oil, with a little Himalayan sea salt.  He’ll eat a plate full!

Q. Grocery shopping in New York is notoriously awful. Where do you get your organic ingredients?
A. I go to Whole Foods and local health food stores. Whole Foods is where I learned about Seventh Generation products, which I love.

Q. What about restaurants?
A. Serafina. It’s so kid friendly, so fun . . .  and Le Pain Quotidien for lunch. All of their takeout containers are biodegradable.
 
Q. What are your favorite places to go, and things to do with the kids?
A. We go to Central Park a lot, and will collect twigs and leaves. We put the twigs on paper and make ABC’s out of them. I try to do fun things that don’t cost a lot of money and are very much about nature—picnics in the park.  I buy whatever my son wants, pretty much within reason, but at the same time, he ends up wanting to play with stuff at home, like taking the ice out of the icemaker and scooping the ice. He’ll do that for an hour-and-a-half, wearing his “worker’s’  shield” so he’s really using his imagination.

Q. You were born in Kentucky, and grew up in both California and New York. Were your own parents healthy? 
A. My mother was into health and nutrition and used to buy us organic cakes and cookies when we were young. She would allow us one box of cookies a week. When I left home, my mother said all the fruit would go bad. I was the only one eating it. My mom wasn’t big on television. She was really big on nature. She used to tell us stories about when she tried tequila, how she couldn’t drink it. So we always thought, oh no!  She didn’t intend to scare us—I never had issues—but I never drank or did drugs.

Q. And of course the big question: raising kids in New York versus LA?
A. In a way, New York is an easier city than LA. You are in and out of the car so much in LA. Plus New York has so many things for kids to do—the museums, art centers, book readings, FAO Schwartz and Central Park, with the boathouse. I find it a lot easier to get together with other moms in New York. I live on the Upper East Side. Living near Central Park was a big thing for me. I like nature, and my son does, too. He loves to be able to run around in the grass.

Photo Source: Oh No