Zooey Deschanel Talks to Treehugger About Making the World a Better Place

The actor and eco-entrepreneur catches up with Treehugger on her projects, partnerships, and personal efforts to make the world more sustainable.

Zooey Deschanel

Lettuce Grow

There are only 24 hours in a day, but based on the sheer amount of projects she’s involved in, Zooey Deschanel appears to have found some magical exception to this rule. 

The actor, singer-songwriter, producer, and current host of ABC’s “The Celebrity Dating Game” with Michael Bolton has been on an entrepreneurial tear in recent years, throwing energy behind projects and initiatives that seek to do everything from reconnecting people with their food to rewarding them for smarter, healthier choices at the supermarket. All the while, she’s also balanced motherhood and raising a family with her boyfriend Jonathan Scott, star of the popular HGTV series “Property Brothers.” 

Speaking with Treehugger, Deschanel credits her kids for inspiring her to make sustainable changes personally and professionally. 

“Having kids really made me think ahead about what our planet will be like generations down the line,” she says. “It was a huge motivation for me to do what I can to help make the world a better place. We can all make a huge impact if we work together!”

In addition to hosting a popular video series called “Your Food’s Roots,” Deschanel also co-founded a vertical hydroponic farmstand product called Lettuce Grow and a food resource blog called The Farm Project

“I love fresh produce but I’m not talented at gardening. I don’t really have the time to devote to making the plants happy,” she says. “I invested in an organic aquaponic farm about seven years ago and was amazed at the possibilities of growing in water, so Lettuce Grow was the extension of that. It’s gardening for anyone and everyone. You don’t have to be good at gardening, have a huge yard or a ton of time to have fresh produce. My farm stand only takes five minutes a week of my time. It’s truly amazing.”

Reviews of Lettuce Grow, which allows customers to choose from 200 different pre-sprouted plants, have been favorable, in particular for those with limited (or no) backyard space. 

“Until I tried the Farmstand, I didn’t think it was possible for my family to grow our own vegetables: We simply didn’t have the skill, time, or interest in gardening,” writes Elizabeth Segran for FastCo. “But technology has cut through all of these problems. Since we’ve been testing the Lettuce Grow, we’ve made far fewer trips to the grocery store and we’ve barely thrown out any produce. It’s one small step towards ending food waste.”

In addition to launching new ways to connect with food at home, Deschanel has been partnering with companies and on initiatives that seek to make a difference. Her latest is with Air Wick and the World Wildlife Fund, which are working together to plant 1 billion square feet of wildflower habitat in the American Northern Great Plains. 

“It’s an incredible initiative—so many animals rely on wildflowers, most especially pollinators which are so important to our environment in so many ways,” she says. “They are essential to growing some of the crops we rely on the most. I am very proud to be a part of this initiative and hope more people join in to plant wildflowers.” 

When asked what advice she might give people looking to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle, Deschanel offers up some lessons she’s learned, as well as a clean-living shopping app she recently helped develop and launch. “Small things can make a huge difference. Another new venture I’ve co-founded is Merryfield, which is an app that rewards people for shopping in a cleaner, better for you, and more sustainable way."

She continues, "Just by choosing products from brands making products in a more environmentally responsible way, we are taking a huge step in the right direction. Other things you can do: Cut down on meat and dairy consumption. Switch to a reusable water bottle. Turn off your lights when you leave a room. All of these little things and many more really can help if we all come together as a community and make the effort.”

Like she’s done the last several years, Deschanel says she’ll keep learning, making changes, and pushing her impact to be more sustainable. 

“I already have solar power at my home. The goal is to move more and more in a sustainable direction, though." She adds, “My boyfriend is very passionate about sustainable energy, so we are both always working to live in a more eco-friendly way.”