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Natural Awakenings National

Loving a Sustainable Life: Heartfelt Perspective from Actress and Activist Daryl Hannah

Sep 28, 2011 10:17AM ● By S. Alison Chabonais

Photo by: Chaunnel "Pake" Salmon

Best known for her roles in such popular films as Splash, Blade Runner and Kill Bill, actress Daryl Hannah is now busy shedding light on environmental issues and working hard to help improve the way people treat our planet. “It’s just common sense to care about the environment,” she says. “I’ve always understood and valued the interdependence of all life, the idea that whatever we do to the web of life, we do to ourselves.”

Dwelling in a small community in the Rocky Mountains, Daryl attends to her ethical-lifestyle website and serves as a positive role model for living a simple, natural and healthy life.

How did you go about designing and building an ecologically sustainable home?

My home is a small, recycled barn that was about to be torn down to build a new post office. I salvaged the old barn and carefully had it relocated and bermed into the side of a hill, which faces southwest for optimal passive solar exposure. The sun passes high in the summer for shade and low across the sky in winter to warm the house.

The south wall of the house is like a greenhouse, where spring water flows through and provides humidity in the dry, high-altitude air. We used stones gathered from the site for the fireplaces, bathroom and stairs. I’ve also used a number of moss-covered stones in a “living” couch. I grow food in a garden that is wildly productive when cared for.

“Off the grid” is a new term for some people. How do you define it?

Off the grid literally means that an individual creates their own power and has access to rain, well, spring or ground water. I believe in being as self-sufficient  as possible. Both passive and active solar energy provides my power and I’m very lucky to have a productive spring for water.

What have been the most rewarding, as well as the most challenging, aspects of achieving your current Earth-friendly lifestyle?

More and more these days, I admire and crave simplification. While filming the video blog for my website,, I have found it incredibly interesting to learn how many gifts traditional knowledge holds and to discover amazing new innovations. The more I learn, the more I try to adapt to and adopt a simpler lifestyle.

Why do you choose to drive a biodiesel car?

I like opting out of the petroleum economy as much as possible, and I love that I can drive on non-toxic waste. Biofuels can be an important part of the solution to the energy crisis we face, but even biofuels can be produced destructively. I co-founded the U.S. Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance to help people differentiate sustainable biodiesel from other, “bad news,” biofuels.
In addition, I now own the Trans-Am car featured in the Kill Bill movie series. The car has been converted to run on 100 percent alcohol fuel, which can also be made from waste.

Which other issues are important to you?

In these times of environmental and economic crises, there are many things that call for our attention: I’m very concerned that global population has grown from about 3 billion people when I was born to nearly 7 billion now; we are also witnessing mass extinction of species worldwide; there are more enslaved human beings today than at any other time in human history. It can be overwhelming, but I try to do what I can and when I can, whenever I’m moved.

Who typically visits your website, and how do others use it to make their lives better?

I started when I decided it was time to try to live by my beliefs—it’s an ongoing process. The site curates information on truly sustainable solutions, based on my discovery that reliable information and resources for efficient and functional goods and services were not readily available.

There was a bit of trial and error in my own learning process, so I wanted to share what has worked for me. With today’s glut of green marketing, we may have lots of “green” options available, but now there’s a lot of greenwashing and the whole arena can be challenging to understand.

People from all walks of life seem to be interested in commonsense solutions. So, whenever I learn something fascinating and helpful and catch myself saying, “Wow, I wish someone had told me that before,” I like to share it with others.

S. Alison Chabonais is an editor of Natural Awakenings.


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