An Interview with Leya Nicolait of Our Green Nation
Anyone’s desire to learn more about wellness and sustainability will soon lead you to a trove of useful information via search engines alone, but it’s mixed in with red-herring promises for snake oil and other quick fixes, as well as sly corporate attempts to use our desire for information to make a quick buck.
Enter Wellness Warrior! We’re trying to cut through the mess and uncover good and balanced information so we can share it with all. And...we are not alone!
Leya Nicolait has been hard at work creating Our Green Nation (OGN)—a place for readers to sift through the latest information about living more sustainably. This week she officially launched the website and we caught up with her to learn more about her inspiration for OGN and her personal pledge to support the health of others and the planet. She is refreshingly positive!
What’s the end goal for Our Green Nation?
Our Green Nation is a one-stop-shop for credible information that assists us all in making educated decisions regarding overall health and wellbeing. Health information online is spread out all over the place and oftentimes you find conflicting information that is shady, at best. There really isn’t one “end goal” for OGN. It’s there to help people along the way. We are all individuals, so I believe that people will seek out what they need from the site. My hope is that we provide information that helps to bring about an “ah-ha” or an idea that encourages a positive effect in a person’s life when they need it. OGN is really about the path, not about the destination.”
"Green” can mean so many things. What’s your take on what it means to be “green” or sustainable?
‘Green’ reflects our connection to the earth and commitment to the partnership we share with our planet. It’s about being awake and open to great information about how to live more sustainably. Once you start to educate yourself about what known harmful chemicals are in most of our mass-manufactured products, you cannot turn a blind eye and accept that as the norm. Polluted planet = Polluted people. Life is full of choices. We want to encourage people to vote with their pocketbook and find goods and services that will have a positive impact and not lead them down the road of chronic disease and toxic land.
You pull content from a large variety of sources. Why did you chose this approach to helping consumers, as opposed to just trusting sources like government agencies, non-profits, or businesses?
Having a variety of credible sources speaking to alternative ways of thinking, living and eating paints a picture that we have other options. We can customize a life based on what each of our bodies needs and not what major corporations would like us to buy.
Here’s an example: Many consumers have no idea that the FDA is an independent regulatory body that is mostly swayed by lobbyists of the major corporations in the United States. The old Food Guide Pyramid and new My Plate is a great example of this—the milk, grain and meat industries have had major influence in the creation of both. Yet, Americans dutifully follow these guidelines and as a result, we have watched inflammatory related disease, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer numbers soar at an unprecedented rate.”
What drives your passion for health and wellness and the environment?
It’s just common sense that we take care of our body, family, community and the world around us. The notion that we can consume food that is bad for our bodies, while polluting the earth, and then expect someone to give us a magic pill/procedure when we are sick or have someone else clean up our mess, is really a Dark Ages mindset.”
What are the elements of wellness that you work with on OGN?
The website is organized in 10 Categories: Career, Community, Creative, Fitness, Food, Health, House, Mindfulness, Relationship and Self-Care. ALL of these categories contribute to your overall health and wellbeing. Holistic medicine has long looked at all of these when determining ailments or issues, whereas our modern medical system often views us in a fragmented way. As patients, we see one doctor for one issue then another for something else, bouncing around until we become trained to not see ourselves as one whole person. So, for example, you could eat all the kale and quinoa, workout every-day, use only the most organic products, but if your work life is overwhelming and your family life is a mess, you are most likely going to have some issues manifesting in your body. For others, being overweight is the effect and not the cause of their problems; the root problem oftentimes is emotional turbulence that causes them to turn blindly to food for comfort. Our bodies are telling us stories. Wellness comes when we learn to listen and weave those stories together as a WHOLE.”
What are the greatest advancements in world wellness and sustainability?
Social awareness and the “mainstreaming” of wellness and sustainability concepts have been huge advances! No longer are these ideas considered “extremist leftist fringe,” and now people from all walks of life can see that regardless of political party, these ideas are just good common sense. Enough eyes from a 360-degree perspective have been put on to these topics to provide good data to reveal how the system is broken and the steps we need to take to repair it.”
How can we ensure that everyone in our country has access to wellness opportunities?
I think the key is education. Our society has become disconnected from the sources of our goods and products. There are large companies out there who are leaders in their industry that have become very powerful at the expense of the end consumer. They have long held profits in importance over the health of the people and planet. Learning to read product labels is an important and basic step in a healthy direction. One goal of Our Green Nation is to help people connect with the understanding that wellness is often times as simple as choosing quality people, products, ideas and things to have on, in, or around us. It does not have to be expensive or complicated, but it does take a mindset of wanting a healthier life that is full of good choices.
PHOTO: Leya Nicolait of Our Green Nation