Monday, May 6, 2013

Interview — Tiffani Thiessen: "It's Easy Being Green"

We all know her as everyone’s sweetheart, Kelly, on “Saved by the Bell,” every girl’s scheming enemy, Valerie, on “Beverly Hills, 90210,” and more recently as event planner Elizabeth on USA’s “White Collar.” Ironically, event planning is in Tiffani Thiessen’s blood, as she loves to throw a good party and entertain friends. And, as she demonstrated last month, which just so happened to be Earth Month, you can entertain without harming the Earth. Partnered with Glad and its One Bag campaign, Tiffani is on a mission to teach others how to make less waste, use fewer energy sources and still have a kick-ass party.

Recently, Tiffani — along with longtime friend and party planner Heidi Mayne — threw a One Bag party, dazzling her friends and family with gorgeous decorations, wonderful food, fun party favors, etc., all the while recycling, composting and sending only one bag of trash to the landfill. I spoke with Tiffani right before the party, and she gave me the scoop on her One Bag affair.

Celebrity Extra: Tell me about the party planning. You did this by committee, correct? Getting people’s votes via Glad’s Facebook page?

Tiffani Thiessen: Exactly. It’s been really fun to have an audience following along and helping us pick the menu, pick the decor, pick the place and choose the parting gifts. Usually I’m like, “Well, I want to pick out those things.” But it’s also been really fun to see what people want to see as well. It all came together beautifully. It’s breathtaking.

CE: I know that you are very green in your own right, so how did you hook up with Glad for this event?

TT: I was approached by them — I think that maybe they heard that I try to be as green as I can be. I grew up in a household that was very much about that, and I continue to be that way. I also strive to be a good role model for my daughter, Harper. We recycle, and we try to conserve water. We have huge water tanks in our backyard, where we use all the rainwater to water our garden. We grow our own vegetables — we try to be those responsible, good, green people. Nowadays what’s nice about it is that it’s not hard to do. It’s almost like it’s become normal for everybody to be doing that, which is nice to know.

CE: It’s definitely become commonplace to recycle at home, and at work, and when you go out.

TT: Oh, absolutely. And it’s just the simplest thing — if you throw a party, put three different huge trash bins out there, and label them “plastics”, “cans” and “glass.” It’s as simple as that, and you make a big difference.

CE: So, with the One Bag party and campaign, you’re trying to show others how easy it can be to create less waste and help save the planet, yes?

TT: With the party, we’re showing people really fun details on how to throw a beautiful, wonderful, luxurious party, while still being very green in the process. We are throwing away only one bag of trash for the whole party, which is amazing to think that I can throw a party for 50 of my friends and throw away only one bag of trash. We are using glassware instead of paper — there are a lot of wonderful companies out there that have the compost-type plates and forks that break down so much better than regular paper and plasticware. But we’re using actual china and real glassware and servingware that needs to be washed, and you can reuse it. The only things being thrown away are soiled items or half-eaten food, that kind of thing. But the menu’s to die for, so I cannot imagine there’s going to be a lot left of any food whatsoever.

CE: Besides being good friends, you and Heidi must work well together since you’ve planned so many parties together.

TT: Heidi is a dear friend of mine; we’ve known each other for a very long time. I love doing this kind of stuff, especially with her. She’s always bringing new ideas to me that I haven’t heard of, and there’s one idea that she loved that I brought to the table, and she’s been using it quite often. I showed her the idea of using chalkboards as menus instead of actually getting menus printed on paper. We used that idea at my wedding years ago, and it’s a favorite of mine that I incorporate into all of my parties now.

CE: While some places do rent dishes and silverware, I was reading how you always have your own sets on hand to match the party occasion.

TT: I do. I have a stockpile of dishes. I have a stockpile of cake plates and pedestal plates and other stuff I use. Now having a little girl, I’m going to be throwing a lot of birthday parties. Why constantly buy things that are going to be thrown away? Why not have beautiful things that you can use over and over and over again? Plus, it’ll save you money in the long run.

What’s nice about it too is if you get colors that work with a lot of different holidays and things like that, get more of a neutral pallet, then you can spruce it up for the occasion you are celebrating. I have a couple of different varieties of linens that will work for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and something that will work for spring and Easter. And then my daughter, Harper, is a summer baby, so her stuff is usually very bright and colorful.

CE: Why do you think a lot of people are still hooked on these disposable things?

TT: Honestly, it’s because we’ve become such a very busy society that we’re all about being quick. And people think going to a store and picking up paper plates and napkins and cups and all that kind of stuff is easy. But we need to be smarter. We need to be better role models for our children. The more we throw away, the more we’re wasting, and the more it’s actually just going back into our Earth, and it’s not helping us in the long run. I think it’s more fun and creative to come up with these green alternatives. And how wonderful would it be to start a legacy of beautiful china and silver that you can pass down through the generations? Wouldn’t you rather be served with beautiful silver than plastic forks and spoons?

CE: How green is the cast and crew at your day job on “White Collar”?

TT: They’re all very good. We don’t have any plastic water bottles around anywhere. Our very first season, we got metal water bottles with “White Collar” on them. It’s just simple things like that. On the sets of TV shows and movies, a crazy amount of stuff gets wasted, so little things like that go a long way.

CE: So, no dirt on your fellow cast mates then, huh?

TT: (Laughs) I can say we’re all pretty good. And it’s also definitely one of the nicest groups of people I’ve worked with in a really, really long time. It’s great to know that the show’s been doing well, and now we’re going into our fifth season. I’m very excited.

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