Interview with Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff

When did you first start writing?
I can't remember not writing. I wrote my autobiography in first grade and published poetry in high school. I've written screenplays and fiction, but journalism has always been the form I return to. I think blogging can be an extension of that, if done right--it's a return to the era of the columnist, whose opinion you trust to interpret events. My books are an extension of what I've learned as a journalist and blogger. Recently, I started writing songs for a band that I play with in Los Angeles. I'm afraid that my song lyrics bear a strong resemblance to my adolescent poetry. It all comes full circle, right?
What's the story behind your latest book?
About seven years ago, I began to realize how much of an impact what I bought for myself and my family could have on the environment—and the marketplace. Women are responsible for 85% of the buying decisions in a household. What we spend our money on matters.

As I learned more, I started applying this knowledge to my life. I wrote about eco-beauty for women’s magazines—and found it increasingly more difficult to write about conventional alternatives. I was asked to create a marketing campaign for a major denim label—and turned it down when I learned that takes an astounding one-third of a pound of toxic fertilizer to make a t-shirt (dump that into a bowl and keep that visual in mind the next time you go shopping).

How could I promote this stuff, with what I knew? That’s when I started The Big List of Things That Suck. First, it was just a short list of conventional fashion, beauty and lifestyle factoids for me to use when I was writing. Then I started slipping in my own suckies as commentary on the green lifestyle—for example, a “sustainabully” is a person who makes others feel guilty for perceived eco-sins.

In 2007, this encyclopedia of essential eco-information got so gigantic that I built a website around it:, which became in 2013. Also this year, The Big List of Things That Suck achieved its ultimate goal of becoming an actual book. Yes, it’s an eBook. But that counts, right?
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I love Smashwords! The system is so easy to use and makes it effortless to publish and market a book.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I can't not write. I always have a little book and pen in my bag; I can't have a conversation without writing something down. But I'm also a working married mother of three, so typically I'm writing in fits and starts--whenever I can squeeze in some time. There is nothing better than sitting down in a quiet room with my book of notes and losing myself in the sentences for a few uninterrupted hours. That is true joy.
What do your fans mean to you?
I don't know if I would call them fans, but I truly love interacting with readers! People reach out to me through Facebook and Twitter, on my YouTube channel and on Pinterest. They comment on Mommy Greenest posts, and send me emails directly. Sometimes they're asking questions, but often they're just sharing how they've used some piece of information in their lives. It makes me so happy to read those stories. The fact that something I wrote actually helped a person I never met is just amazing to me. Keep 'em coming!
What are you working on next?
I'm currently editing my next book, which is for pregnant and new moms--or couples who are thinking about having a baby. It's called Mommy Greenest: 101 Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me About Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond.

I began writing the book as a letter to my children, when my third was only a few weeks old. I started thinking about it after realizing that I remembered virtually nothing about what to do with an infant, despite having gone through it just five and eight years before.

That amnesia is legendary, and in some ways it’s wonderful, because as a mom become an expert each time you have a baby—it’s an incredible feeling of accomplishment. But throughout all three of my pregnancies, I wished that my mother could have told me how it was for her.

I didn’t grow up with my mother—in fact, I didn’t grow up with a mother at all. My parents divorced when I was two, and she left me with my father when I was four, cutting off all communication. I reconnected with my “birth mother” in adulthood, after my children were born. And although my dad did a good job of parenting me, he wasn’t that great at giving pregnancy advice.

So when I got pregnant for the third time and still felt like a novice, I asked my friends to tell me what their mothers had told them about pregnancy and birth. And guess what? They didn’t know anything, either.

I realized quickly that my lack of knowledge had nothing to do with the fact that I didn’t have a mother—even my friends who were close to theirs were sorely lacking in the knowledge department.

But it’s too bad we don’t remember! Because by now I’ve talked to so many women, and regardless of whether they had labored under a fig tree in the back yard (yes, I know this person, and it isn’t me) or ended up on bed rest in a hospital, having babies is one glorious, incredible, mind-blowing experience.

But for those of us giving birth in the 21st century, the need for knowledge is super important. Especially in pregnancy and when our children are young, I truly believe that by taking small steps to create healthier homes and environments, parents can create a better world—for all of our children.

Mommy Greenest: 101 Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me About Parenting, Birth & Beyond will be an easy-to-follow, from-the-heart guide to doing just that.
Published 2013-11-01.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Big List of Things That Suck
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 11,000. Language: English. Published: October 29, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Health, wellbeing, & medicine » Green living
The Big List of Things That Suck is an essential encyclopedia of eco-information to help you shop, talk and live better, without annoying all of your friends.