Kimberly Rider is the author of The Healthy Home Workbook
and Organic Baby,
owner of atmosphera interior design firm and an expert on creating beautiful and stylish eco-friendly designs for healthy living. She lives in Northen California with her husband and their 2 1/2-year-old son.
Tell us a bit about yourself, your family and what led you to becoming an eco-focused interior designer?
My parents moved to Northern California in the late 1960s and we've lived a healthy-outdoor lifestyle here -- lots of fresh (mostly vegetarian) and unprocessed food. I went to UCLA straight after high school, worked in marketing and real estate for a while and then went on to study Industrial Design in San Francisco. My parents still live close by and I have two brothers. Now my husband and I have a son, who's 2 1/2.
I appreciate beauty in life -- in art, in nature and in my living environment. It took me a long time to figure out that interior design was a great career for me because I love to cook, to entertain and create jewelry and other decorative objects. Interior design merges a lot of my loves plus it requires a lot of systems and logic to problem-solve the best solutions. It's an ever-changing job depending on the people I am working for, the products available and the look and feel a person wants to create.
Is it possible to be eco-friendly on a budget?
I have to say, I love a well-made high-quality item -- but we live in one of the most expensive places and sometimes you just can't get everything you want all at once when you spend so much on housing.
I clean with non-toxic cleaning products and often use baking soda and vinegar for some jobs or I buy a bulk concentrated cleaner that I water down. It's less expensive, safer, and better for the environment.
I re-use fabric all the time and save really expensive fabrics for specialty items like a throw pillow -- but often times I back things with plain organic cotton or linen, or reverse a fabric on the other side to get two pillows out of one. I buy seconds, discontinued items, vintage and my friends and family "hand-up" and "hand-down" (and "hand-over!") maternity and kids' clothing. We also shop consignment a lot.
In Organic Baby you write about safe food storage – what are your favorite tips?
I rely heavily on glass and metal. (The Container Store
has some nice items.) I also like bamboo plates and utensils for little ones, picnics, and for snacks so you can just wipe the plate clean instead of washing it. I know lots of plastics are now deemed safe and non-toxic, but they are always finding new chemicals that are potentially harmful. I just steer clear of it because there are alternatives.