Most of us want to use products that are good for our health and for the environment, but many people don’t have the time to research or just don’t know where to start. I’m sure we’ve all stared blankly at a wall of products in a store, feeling overwhelmed and not knowing which one is the safest for our families. The Borden Big List provides a solution to this exact problem. The Borden Big List is a website full of excellent advice and lists of healthy, sustainable and allergy-friendly products for your business, body, home and kitchen pantry. It connects people with good products and helps make environmentally savvy decision-making easy for everyone.
Lisa Borden, the owner of Borden Communcations + Design Inc., is the mastermind behind The Borden Big List. Lisa is a mother of 3 children, a Creator of Stuff that Matters and a Woman of Many Titles. She is the accomplished author of Alphabet of Avoidance, a book to inspire healthier and smarter green habits, and The Tale of Kale, a children’s book that encourages good eating habits and trying new things.
I had the honor and privilege of interviewing Lisa Borden about her journey, her fierce commitment to better, more responsible living, and how her daughter’s food allergies changed the course of her life. Here are highlights from our conversation:
How would you describe yourself?
I’m highly passionate. I’m determined and dedicated, with relentless passion to help people make money when they are doing good or trying to change.
Why did you create The Borden Big List?
I love networking and connecting people to each other. I love writing. That’s where The Borden Big List comes from. People know that I’m a resource, and that I have very very very high standards, which are unique because of my lifestyle and my set of values.
So, are the products listed on The Borden Big List mostly from companies you have worked with?
I would say 98% of people that are on that list I’ve never had business dealings with. We don’t ask for free product, I usually buy everything. I was inspired to think that way by my son, who started his own restaurant review blog, Ry’s Ratings, when he was 8 years old. He never liked telling people that he was a blogger when he went in, because he didn’t want to be treated differently or get anything for free, because he only liked doing positive reviews and didn’t want the pressure of taking something from somebody and not writing anything. He came up with that concept all on his own at 8 years old. There’s a lot from that that I draw on. I also want to have a clear conscience and fully disclose everything that I’m doing.
Were you always this conscientious and environmentally aware?
I really thought that I was a conscientious shopper, or aware, but boy was that misguided. I made a lot of good choices for my first child that I didn’t necessarily make for myself. For example, my husband and I were still drinking conventional milk, but I would buy organic sheep milk in a glass bottle for him. I made organic baby food for him, but I was still eating fast food myself.
What caused you to change? Did your daughter’s food allergy diagnosis play a role?
When my son Ryan was 2 years old, my daughter Joey was born. She was diagnosed as what they call a “colicky kid.” When she was 3 months old she was hospitalized for bronchiolitis, and at that time a nurse told me I couldn’t breastfeed because of her respirator and feeding tubes. I thought, “okay, that makes sense” and I let someone else dictate medically what needed to be done to save my daughter.
We took her home and were told she would likely need a Ventolin tank, possibly long term. My daughter’s breathing improved, but her eczema worsened.
We got an appointment to see a dermatologist and this was the catalyst. I waited and waited for so long, then brought in my baby and the doctor barely looked at her, then gave me a Benadryl sample and cortisone cream and told me to use it every day. I remember looking at my cute little baby and thinking “that can’t be good.” I left in tears, because I was so overwhelmed that this could be her only option. So I went back home to Google and read about this person that claimed to heal everything in their lives by removing cleaning chemicals from their home. I remember thinking, “That makes me feel better. At least I’m doing something, and it won’t cost me anything to try.” I took all cleaning chemicals and removed them from our living space. Joey’s skin cleared up and her breathing was better – within 2 weeks! My baby started sleeping and was happier. She never needed a tank, or a puffer, she is now 14.
That was early on. I continued to remove items. I wasn’t stopping at cleaning chemicals. I did all of our personal care, and cooking stuff like removing non-stick and plastics. I really started more health driven, not necessarily environmental. I was looking at getting rid of toxins and cleaning up my home and habits.
At 22 months my daughter had a reaction to peanut butter. That made me read labels on food, and I did the same thing (getting rid of toxins) in about a week. I couldn’t believe what was in products. So, like anybody else who goes through an allergic reaction with their kids, you have no choice but to be aware.
Did the changes in your lifestyle and household have an impact on your business?
I gave up about 80% of my revenue stream in the beginning, but I sought out companies and products that were conscientious and exciting. It was like starting a whole new business.
One of my articles called “The Sin of Unknowing” is something that I believe in very much. Once you know, don’t unknow it to make life easy. Once you know, use it to do better. When someone is knowingly choosing to do harm, I wonder how.
Can you tell us about No Nuts Please and why you started it?
When my daughter was in elementary school she felt like she was the only person with a nut allergy. Being in marketing, I thought that I could do something to help. I knew that some of my friends had kids with nut allergies too, so I designed a t-shirt, printed a dozen shirts and dropped them off to my friends, asking them to have their kids wear it to school so my daughter would see them.
What do you think is the biggest barrier for people living with food allergies?
Existing within our society. It’s a social thing. It’s about relating to others. I believe that’s the hardest thing. I know that my daughters activities and social activities have been limited because of her food allergies. But as parents, it’s about giving your child the confidence to deal with these barriers.
**Read more about Joey Storm, Lisa’s daughter, in this interview where she shares what it’s like to go to school, parties, and camp with a nut allergy, and what it’s really like to be Lisa Borden’s daughter.
I can honestly say that my conversation with Lisa had a huge impact on me. I’m amazed and humbled by her dedication to the environment and healthy living. Lisa’s excitement and passion is contagious and inspiring. I left the interview feeling empowered to change my habits and to save the planet.
I encourage everyone to learn more about Lisa Borden and get inspiration from her ideas, special projects and creations. Even the smallest changes can make a big difference!