The Many Shades of Green: Bringing Zen Into Your Life

 Image Credit: The Many Shades of Green

Image Credit: The Many Shades of Green

I'm so honored to have been on The Many Shades of Green radio show for another interview with Maxine Margo. This week, Maxine and I talk post-consumer recycling, BTB feng shui,  environmental psychology and more on the path to zen. Click here to listen to our newest interview on The Many Shades of Green.

Interview transcript:

Hi, I'm Anjie Cho, registered architect and LEED AP, and this is Holistic Spaces, brought to you by The Many Shades of Green.

Today I’d like to talk to you about an exciting topic: post-consumer recycled materials.

It’s actually pretty confusing – what does recycled mean? What does post-consumer recycled mean? What’s the difference? 

Post-consumer recycled content indicates that a portion of the content is made from recycled materials that you or I put in our recycling bins through private or public means. That means this material has gone through the hands of a consumer.  Otherwise, just “recycled” means that it was likely made from virgin material such as leftover scraps from factories and over-produced items.  

Why post-consumer recycled? When you recycle, it eventually needs to be purchased by someone to recycle.  If people like us are purchasing post-consumer recycled products, we create a market demand for those post-consumer materials.  Sadly, if there’s no market for the recycling, all the material we recycle may just end up in a landfill.

Also it wouldn’t hurt to have a good percentage of the paper and plastics that already exist to be salvaged and reused for post-consumer recycled products. 

In conclusion, I encourage you to make a choice for post-consumer recycled materials whenever possible. By creating a market and demand for post consumer recycled products, we can support and grow the infrastructure for more environmentally GREEN living!

MMR: Hi, I’m Maxine Margo Rubin, and welcome to The Many Shades of Green, our program that engages in conversations that move to raise your eco consciousness. My guest this week on The Many Shades of Green is Anjie Cho, founder of Holistic Spaces. She’s a LEED certified green architect, a BTB Feng Shui Practitioner. She has written a new book entitled 108 Ways to Create Holistic Spaces. How do you create functional, sustainable and balanced spaces within your home by using Feng Shui techniques? What steps can you take to enhance the flow of chi? Anjie will give us some ideas and green tips that will make your home more harmonious and set you on a path to Zen. So Anjie, how are you?

AC: I’m so good Maxine. How are you?

We’re on that path to Zen right now. We’re going to get in to your book in a little bit, but I wanted to get in to Feng Shui right off the bat. It didn’t come in to the States until about the ‘60s, is that right? I read that in one of the paragraphs in your book that I actually read, yes.

My mentor must have written that. Yes, it came in to the ‘60s and it got popular in the ‘70s and ‘80s through professor Lin Yun, who is the founder of the BTB Feng Shui School.

Now BTB Feng Shui, how does that differ from another form of Feng Shui, other areas of it?

There are many schools of Feng Shui. There’s BTB Feng Shui, there’s the Compass School, there’s Classical Feng Shui, there’s Form School. There are a lot of different schools, and also every culture has their own form of geomancy, which means looking at the land and the space and the environment and seeing how to best locate yourself.

So the difference with BTB, generally, is that it’s more of a westernized approach to Feng Shui. It’s more recent, and there are 2 main characteristics. It doesn’t really prioritize the cardinal direction, for instance north, south, east, west aren’t the most important thing. What’s more important is where the energy comes into the space, so that would usually be the front door. We call that the mouth of chi.

The mouth of chi is the front door of an apartment or a house. So when you walk in, you’re going to feel in a particular way because of the energy or the way things are placed or what’s in your house. What would you want to have in your front entrance that will make you feel the energy is positive?

Well, the front entry is the first thing that you see. Even if you live in a house that has a garage and you come in through the garage door, your front entry represents your face to the world and how the world sees you and the first thing that people see. So that symbolism says a lot about how opportunities come to you, how the world sees and views you. So some simple things that can improve the energy of your home looking at your front entry…one is to brighten it up. Make sure that the bulbs you have there are very bright. You have the opportunity to bring a lot of brightness in that space. A light bulb represents fire energy. Another thing is to keep it very clean and tidy, By keeping it clean and tidy, you automatically watch what’s happening in that space. You’re mindful of that space; you pay attention to it on a daily basis. Another thing that you can do is make sure that your door can be found. A lot of times, especially in New York City apartments, you don’t even know how to buzz the front door. There’s no buzzer, there’s no number. If your friends can’t find you, how can opportunities find you?

Yeah, if your friends can’t find you, you’re definitely in a bit of trouble. Now, you mentioned tidy, and I know there’s a lot of different thoughts about tidy. They say geniuses have clutter and then they create through their clutter, I mean, or the clutter just builds up around them but they still can focus. Yet clutter also can present problems in terms of how you’re organized, how your life is, so if something’s cluttered, do you need to work on it forever? Are there steps you can take to start doing it in increments and what is behind that theory of de-cluttering your space?

Well, clutter is really a modern day phenomenon. We didn’t have clutter in ancient times. We didn’t have so much stuff, and that’s one thing that, when we think about green initiatives, we think about reducing, reusing and recycling, but we often forget the first one is reduce. How do we reduce the amount of extra objects that we have in our homes? There’s actually an Einstein quote that says “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

Right, that’s where my genius reference came in. Thank you Einstein.

Those were actually two extremes. If you have a very cluttered desk where you can’t find anything, of course that impacts how well you work, how clearly you think. But if you have an empty desk, and nothing is going on, then it also means that there’s also nothing going on in your mind, nothing going on in your work, you don’t have anything happening, so that we would say it’s very yin. 

So you need balance, actually.

You need to be in the middle. Maybe it needs to be a process of clutter and removing. Because maybe if you take snapshots of the desk at certain times, it might look cluttered, it might look empty, but life isn’t static like that. We’re constantly moving. So when you approach clutter in your home, I think the first thing to think about is: is it really representing a block in your life? Is it really causing angst in your life? For instance, for a while, I had a lot of magazines piling up, and every time I saw them, I thought, “Those magazines that I keep meaning to read and I’m not going to read and they keep piling up.” It becomes a source of guilt and it weighs on you, and that takes up a lot of energy to ignore that. So if it’s representing a block in your life, then it’s definitely something you should address but if it’s not bothering you, you don’t need to worry about it.

I have that with mail. It just piles. The mail I need, I address. The mail I don’t need, which is from anything and any place, it just stays there. We started keeping mail in the mailbox that we didn’t want to bring in, or mail that we didn’t need to address, certain catalogs, certain things. I think we drove our mail lady crazy. Sorry! But again, the clutter issue is definitely a problem, and achieving that balance is the way to go.

Well, there’s that one approach where you only handle it once. Like for your mail, if you touch it, you need to deal with it. So make sure you only have to deal with it one time, so if you touch it, you throw it away or you address it.

That’s one way to approach it. And also it’s okay, like I said, it’s okay to have some clutter. For instance, my sister has 2 daughters and she has a table that’s her homework table. It’s a clutter table. You just throw everything on there, and you make a space in your life to accommodate things that are messy and that you can’t address right away. So maybe it goes in that area and eventually, you clean off that area when you got sick of it.

In achieving this balance, also, it’s, I think, important (and I read) that you take time to meditate and have some space to do that, and if you have a little tiny apartment in New York City, a studio, I mean, how do you figure spots to do that? I mean, where would you go in such a small space?

One of my meditation teachers, he says it’s really great to have a spot that you always go back to. For instance, if you had to make your bed area, for instance you have to create a bed every time you went to sleep, it would be very challenging, and you might just sleep on the floor sometimes. So same thing with meditation; if you don’t have a designated spot, you may not do it very often, because it’s not there. I hear you’re saying, not a lot of people have room, but the space could be while you’re sitting at the edge of your bed, or it could be sitting on your sofa or could be sitting at your desk, because when they talk about space and meditation, it’s not just physical space but also creating space in your mind and creating space between your thoughts and creating space within yourself.

There’s so much stress, and I know people do not take time to meditate which is something they should do. How would you get the message across the people to take that time and as a part of the Feng Shui practice to do that and how would they do that? What message would you tell them?

Well I feel that meditation is definitely an important thing to incorporate in your life, but if you’re not called to do it, maybe that’s not the right thing for you. But if you are called to it, you could go take a class at a meditation center. I go to Shambhala center, and they’ll teach you ways to incorporate it in to your life. I think one of the biggest benefits of meditation for me, is that I rarely take the time to be compassionate enough to myself to give myself a break and just be present and think. I’m always thinking about the next thing I need to do or the next person I need to take care of or the next meal I’m going to have, and that’s all okay, but if I can sit down and just be with my thoughts, then I can let all those thoughts happen and absorb them and watch them, then it creates space in my mind to really be able to focus on things. Otherwise my mind just, without the meditation, your mind just becomes like a wild animal.

Right. Well, people need to take a chill time in their crazy workday, and it’s kind of hard to do, but maybe even connecting to nature, go outside, go to a park. I know there’s eco-psychology which is something that seems to be sprouting up, and again, I saw that in the book, a reference to it. What is that about?

Oh, Environmental Psychology?

Yeah, Environmental Eco Psychology.

There’s one book I was reading where there have been some studies done where people are in hospital spaces, and they heal faster when they see green space or they have access to green space. You can start to see that someone’s actually healing when they begin to look outside of themselves and worry about things besides themselves, so maybe about their environment. So one of the amazing studies they did was, I think they studied the same amount of people with the same surgery, and the ones that had a view to green space and trees healed much faster, and they needed fewer pain killers than the other group.

So the study was in a hospital setting or…

In a hospital setting.

Wow. So the people who saw greenery felt better even looking out a window, not necessarily being outside, but just seeing it, and the people that didn’t weren’t healing as fast. So that really shows you that we need to get outside, and we need to have space outside. Now, how could you bring some of that green inside?

Well, we’ve talked a lot about plants before in these interviews, bringing in plants, but even bringing in the color green. So, you forgot to ask me…

We’re going to get to that in the next half now. We’re really going to get green in the next half, because I want to hear all these shades that I don’t even know about.

Well, you can definitely bring in some plants, and not just small, little, dinky forage plants but bring in a big, 3 foot fern or ficus tree or something. Bring in some living plants. Not only does that bring greenery in to your space, it improves the air quality, and it improves your ability to take are of something outside of yourself. It works in a lot of ways. And also bringing in the color green, because the colors of nature are much more soothing to the eye. We’ve just evolved that way, and that’s another thing that these environmental psychologists have studied: how colors affect our eyes, how it affects our wellbeing and our emotions.

So we’re going to talk about more green because I’m very interested in various shades of green, or the many shades of green.

We’re here with Anjie Cho. We’re talking about green things and Feng Shui and the relationship with color and space and energy. There’s something called the bagua map which has 8 trigrams. We’re going to learn now what that is, and then we’ll focus on some of the colors, one of them being one of my favorites, well, my favorite color, which is green. So can you give us a little background on that bagua map?

Sure. The bagua map is the Feng Shui map, and it’s a conceptual grid. It’s a 3 by 3 grid, and it creates 9 different areas, although there are 8 trigrams, but that’s for another conversation. The 9 areas represent 9 different areas of your life, and it has different connections. For instance, the first one we’ll probably talk about is new beginnings, which is related to green, and it’s related to wood, the element of wood. It’s related to a certain area of your home, it’s related to family, it’s related to the spring. It’s also related to Chinese medicine, the meridians. They also use the 5 elements in Daoism; it’s the same thing. 

What are the 5 elements again, so the people know?

The 5 elements are wood, fire, water, metal and earth. 

Okay. There’s a group called Earth, Wind and Fire so they’re pretty close.

They’re close, they’re missing one...

I love their group,

… the metal. They’re a metal group, right?

They use metal, right. So in terms of the colors and the numbers, there’s a number associated with each color as well. So let’s start with green. Also, how many shades of green are represented? Tell me about that.

The green area of the Feng Shui map is called, the Chinese name is Zhun, and it’s related to new beginnings and family, and also it relates to the season of spring, like I mentioned before. It’s interesting we’re talking about the many shades of green, because there are many shades of green. What do they represent? I would say very light green would be a very yang green. When you think about light green, you think of a sprout pushing out of the ground and there’s that very forceful energy…

To push it out.

… to push it out, yeah, to come out of the shell, to push through the soil and to really grow. That’s why sprouts are so nutritious, because they have all those enzymes, and they’re really full of life energy, so that would be lighter green. As you get medium green, that’s more neutral. You remember earlier we’re talking about balance, you can go to one extreme with other. Medium green would be in the middle. Dark green would be more related to a mature tree. Think of a huge…

A redwood or something?

… a redwood, yeah! That deep dark green relates more to knowledge. The greens, in general, are all very healing and supportive, because the color is really comforting to us, and it also reminds us of growth and trees and expansion and change and moving on to a better place from where we are now, so it represents new beginnings as well.

New beginnings and plants and trees and grass, but there are also blue-green waters. There are deep green waters, so that’s another thing. That’s a flow. You need water for anything to live. So is there a water sign? Is there a water color? Is there a water number?

Well actually, green and blue are both related to wood in Feng Shui system. Wood element is related to plants and greenery and life and that cycle of life. Water is actually related to the color black, which is depth of wisdom. If you think about an ocean, if you’re out in the middle of the ocean and you’re looking at the water, you actually see black. There’s so much going on underneath, and you can’t see what’s happening underneath but there’s a lot of motion and a lot of activity deep in the ocean, so that’s where black comes from.

Now, these were all from the Chinese Feng Shui, ancient…how far back does this map go? I mean, just curious about the origins of it and what the thoughts of the ancient Chinese people were when they, whoever, developed this.

Well this Feng Shui bagua map that I use is a newer map so it’s I don’t know how many thousands of years, but it is quite old, but there was one before that called the former heaven bagua, and I don’t think I’m qualified to talk about it today, because it’s really complicated, but it’s a little bit different. It’s a little bit different, but water is also related to this black area of the bagua map which is related to your career and your path in life and how you move through the world.

It’s interesting because when we think black...people dress in black at funerals, people, black…

In China, they wear white and they wear black at weddings, or they used to.

Interesting. So it’s kind of a different, an Asian culture thing that brings different colors to different things so I would imagine that white at a wedding…

Well black is also…

Black in the wedding?

So black is the absorption of all colors, and white is actually the reflection of all colors, so white is almost absence of color where black incorporates all color. So it makes sense that it’s knowledge and depth of knowledge because it’s absorbing all the energies to create that black.

What about red?

So red. Red is…

Got to get red in there, fiery and cool…

Exactly. Red is very fiery, it’s passionate, it’s related to fame, the fame area of the Feng Shui bagua map and...

Fame? So all the celebs have like red things in their…

They have good fire chi, yeah. It’s how the world sees you and how people recognize you. It’s your reputation and how you appear to others.

I also saw in the book to get red sheets, get red lingerie so…

Yes. Are you wearing any red lingerie today?

I’m not even, I’m actually wearing black and blue. I don’t know.

Actually there’s fashion Feng Shui too, how it affects your clothes. So the blue is actually very, it’s like a royal blue, but I would say with the black, you’re dressed very water.

I’m water? I like the water. Born in August, I like the water. So this information is in the book and there’s also a lot of tips in the book. Could we go over a couple of tips for people to be conscious of saving and reducing and things that they should be looking out for in terms of what they need to do to make their carbon footprint a little less as well?

Sure. My book is about really simple things to incorporate Feng Shui and green design in to your home. So one is that you could stop using bottled water and to get a filter in your home. I love to get the seltzer machines so you don’t have all those seltzer bottles. That’s one really easy way. Another is to look in to getting a green energy provider into your home so you’re not just getting the regular dirty energy but you’re putting your dollars towards renewable energy like wind energy.

We have green energy, I have them, I use them so…

Great.

Anything like them, they have similar companies out there so that’s really important. What other tip can we have for the spring? One more.

One more. To refresh your space by getting rid of 9 things in your closet.

9 things in your closet?

Yes, 9 things. Can you do it?

Can I do it? You come to my house, oh God, I can’t even imagine what is going to happen over there but…

Once you move 9 things out of your closet, I promise you, things will start moving in your life.

Okay, I’m going to start doing that, because I need to be moving. So those were some tips. I hope everyone jotted all those things down and we’ll jot them down, and Anjie, thanks for being here.

You’re welcome, thank you for having me.

Okay. We’ve been talking with Anjie Chi, founder of Holistic Spaces, Feng Shui practitioner and designer as well as a LEED certified architect. Anjie has written a new book entitled 108 Ways to Create Holistic Spaces which is available on amazon.com and you could also go to, what’s your web?

AnjieCho.com with a J, A – N – J – I – E – C – H – O.com or holisticspaces.com.

Okay, I wanted to get that in there. So this book will definitely help you lead a greener and more balanced life, which is good for the soul. So thanks for joining us for The Many Shades of Green.

by Anjie Cho


About the host

Maxine Margo Rubin has been involved with the media business as a content producer and part-time co-host for Air America (Marc Sussman’s Money Message), and hosted and produced Village Green on WDFH, a show which focused on topics of environmental sustainability and progressive social issues.


The Many Shades of Green with Maxine Margo

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AC: Tell us about TMSOG and your mission

MM: The Many Shades of Green (TMSOG) is an internet radio show which airs on BBoxradio. The program delves into topics on the environment and its interconnection with culture, politics, music and the arts. Many important issues about the environment are under-reported in the mainstream media, and it is a low priority for most Americans. While we, as a human species, depend upon natural resources to survive, we are quickly decimating and depleting those resources, and we are causing the extinction of many of the world’s most majestic and beautiful creatures. We are not living in harmony, nor are we living in balance with nature. The mission of TMSOG is to inform and educate the public about issues of sustainability, and to explain what actions we all can take to protect the planet.

How did The Many Shades of Green start?

I was the content producer and booked guests for a show on Air America called “Green America”.  The program name was later changed to “The Money Message” with host Marc Sussman. We covered topics that included socially responsible investment, which greatly interconnects with issues of sustainability. I co-hosted the show on some occasions, and via my research for guests and topics, I became very interested in all things green. After Air America closed its doors, I hosted and produced an environmental radio program called “Village Green” on WDFH, Pacifica Radio. I was pursuing other avenues for my program, and I saw a flyer posted on a bulletin board in a coffee shop in Brooklyn, for BBox Radio, which stated that they were looking for radio programs for this new Community Internet station. I sent a sample show to Donna Zimmerman, the program director at BBox, and the rest is history.

Where and how did you get involved with sustainability?

I grew up in Brooklyn, not far from Brighton Beach, so I was always drawn to the ocean. I enjoyed the water, the birds, the salt air, as well as the French fries at Nathan’s (salt air and fries go hand in hand). My mom would take me on “nature” walks, and we would take cuttings of bushes and flowers that grew wild in vacant lots, which we would then plant in our backyard on Ocean Parkway. My interest in the environment grew even more through taking Geology courses at Brooklyn College, where I studied Geological periods, fossils, rocks, mountains, oceans, dinosaurs and more.

When I started working on the Green America show, I researched guests and topics that focused on sustainability. Alan Weisman, author of “The World Without Us” and Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org were guests on the Air America program.  I had Mr. Weisman on TMSOG, not long ago, to talk about his new book “Countdown” which covers the serious topic of overpopulation. I also had MayBoeve, co-founder of 350.org, on the program to discuss the problem of greenhouse gas emissions, which is the leading cause of climate change.

Tell us about some of the most interesting people or things you've learned through hosting this radio show.

First off, getting to meet and work with two amazingly talented and compassionate people, Abba Carmichael, my co-producer, and Brian Horowitz, my sound engineer, has enriched my life on so many levels. I could not do the show without them, as they both put their hearts and souls into getting the show out each week.

I have had many fascinating people on the program, and each and every guest is working hard to make a difference and help the planet. I have learned, though it saddens me, that issues involving sustainability are not taken seriously and have a low priority in most people’s lives. The “it is what it is” attitude is pervasive, and on the show I try to educate and inform the public about the need to take action to make the environment a priority.

I have had many interesting interviews that have stood out in my mind. I did an interview with J.K. Canepa, co-founder of NY Climate Action Group, who is fighting to stop the liquefied natural gas port from being built off-shore from areas in Brooklyn and Long Island. When the sound of a construction jackhammer outside the window muffled the interview, we moved to a tree house in a Community Garden in the East Village. Doing a “green” show from an actual tree house was truly awesome.

I also hopped on a Ferry Boat to Governor’s Island with my co-producer, Abba, to interview Murray Fisher at the Harbor School, a high school that teaches students about the importance of the waterways, and what we need to do to protect them.

Other guests of note include Riverkeeper; Eva Radke of Filmbiz Recycling; Syd Mandelbaum, CEO of Rock and Wrap It Up; Clare Donohue, founder of the Sane Energy Project; Nancy Bruning, founder of Nancercize; Tiokasin Ghosthorse, spokesman for the issues affecting the Native Americans and radio host of First Voices Indigenous Radio on WBAI; and of course the terrific Anjie Cho, founder of Holistic Spaces.  

You can hear the interviews of all the wonderful guests that have appeared on the show via my web page (www.themanyshadesofgreen.com) and (www.BBoxradio.com/the-many-shades-of-green). The bottom line is that we have to all be proactive and pick an environmental group and/or cause to get behind, so that we can keep this planet safe and beautiful for future generations to come.

What are three simple tips that you can give to readers to go green and truly lead a holistic life? 

First tip would be “don’t waste water.” Water is a precious commodity that is being threatened by over-consumption, hydrofracking, the bottled water and soda industries and drought conditions due to climate change, nationally and globally. I suggest taking shorter showers, getting a reusable water bottle, and trying not to purchase bottled water whenever possible.

Tip number two: purchase LED light bulbs for your living quarters, you will be reducing electricity usage and saving money in the long run. LED light bulbs have come down in price, and it is a win, win all around.

Tip number three: recycle cans, plastics and bottles and reuse as much as possible. Thrift stores have become cool over the years, visit one and get some vintage clothes or furniture. You will be helping yourself and Mother Earth.

One extra tip: go outside and connect with Mother Nature.

by Anjie Cho


Maxine Margo Rubin has been involved with the media business as a content producer and part-time co-host for Air America (Marc Sussman’s Money Message), and hosted and produced Village Green on WDFH, a show which focused on topics of environmental sustainability and progressive social issues.

In addition, she worked to create a pilot for Green World Radio. Maxine is a Brooklyn girl, born and raised on Ocean Parkway, and is an alum of Abraham Lincoln High School and Brooklyn College. She has a master’s degree in Public Policy/Public Administration from New York University (The Wagner School). Maxine is a confirmed “Greeniac,” and serves on the Sustainability Advisory Board in the town of New Castle. She loves all genres of music, and enjoys her wonderful, nutty and creative family, including her pampered and highly cerebral pooch, Sparky 2.0. She is happy to be connected with BBOX Radio, and looks forward to spreading the word about environmental and social issues affecting Brooklyn and beyond.


Feng Shui on The Many Shades of Green

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I returned to The Many Shades of Green radio show to chat with host, Maxine Margo about feng shui, creating nourishing spaces, EMFs and much more. Check it out below! 

How can we nourish our spaces and ourselves? Anjie Cho, founder of Holistic Spaces, Feng Shui architect and green designer, explains how simple it is to feed our mind and body in order to create more balanced spaces that give positive energy or “chi”. 

Interview transcript

MM: Our next guest on the show is a friend of the program, Anjie Cho. She is a LEED certified architect and founder of Holistic Spaces and uses the energy of chi to bring nourishment, spirituality, beauty and Green Design to help create spaces that are warm and receptive to our life needs. So welcome to The Many Shades of Green. You are a friend, and we’re so happy to have you.

AC: I’m so happy to be back, Maxine.

I love that smile. That’s awesome.

Thank you.

So how I do put the Feng in my Shui?

That was your pop quiz?

This is the pop quiz. How do you get, how does one get the Feng in their Shui?

Well, it’s actually Feng.

It’s the Feng in the Shui.

Or you’d say Feng Shui…

Feng Shui? Which, even that, we’re in trouble…

Well Feng Shui means “wind and water,” so you can look at how you bring in wind, could be like your breath, and water, we’re made up of 70% water. So that said, as humans, we already embody Feng Shui, because we’re breath and water.

We’re breath and water already, and without breath and water, we wouldn’t be here.

No, and then those are the most fundamental elements in nature, right? We need water and we need air, and plants need air and water, and animals do too. When we look at ourselves, humans, as a part of nature and as part of the planet and we’re able to connect and be in tune with environment, then we really do embody Feng Shui, and that’s what you’re trying to do here.

Right, we’re trying to get people to be more embodied and more aware and know that there’s a connection to the natural earth, which a lot of people don’t think about these days because of their connection to things electronic, things that just keep them self-involved, and trying to get back to nature, which is where we all came from, is something as important. Nurturing ourselves and nurturing things around us is an important thing to go on. So in terms of how we nurture ourselves and how we deal with the spaces around us, can you tell us or give a little definition of what that would mean? Nourishment and how that affects spaces?

Well, I think it’s very possible to create spaces that nurture and nourish you. For instance, most of us wouldn’t want to be in a space where someone might have been killed or murdered or something, right? That’s really negative. You don’t want…

That’s scary, yeah.

Yeah, so you can understand that a space can really hold energy. Instead, you want to create a space that’s filled with love and that’s comforting and that’s not stressful. So you can create spaces like that, and Feng Shui really looks at that. Some ways that we can do that are to use colors, for instance, and bring in elements of nature that we were talking about earlier, like houseplants or having windows and light. People are so drawn to light. I mean, that’s the number one thing that you look for, right? Especially in New York City. People want to get as much light as possible.

Light is very important. It brings life and what else?

It’s healing.

It’s healing. It makes you feel better. They have this syndrome in the winter where people get very depressed because it gets dark very early and actually sell these lamps to try to…

I have one.

Do you? Okay so what does that do? I mean, do they work? I’m just curious.

Well, I think there are some UV rays that are particularly healing for people, and when we spend most of our time indoors, we’re not seeing that sunlight or feeling it on our skin. Plus a lot of people put on sunscreen, so our skin doesn’t absorb that. And then in turn, we can’t process vitamin D as well, and that makes us not feel well and leads to depression.

So we like to get the sunlight and those lamps apparently help.

Yeah.

I have never used one, although someone actually gave me one as a gift and I have not yet used it. I hope that person is not listening to the show right now.

Don’t use it at night. It also ties in to your circadian rhythms, so you can use it during the day. It works very well, and it’s also interesting, because I read recently that sunlight can also be anti-bacterial. It can kill bacteria.

That’s another reason we should be getting outside.

Yeah. Or even putting, if you have an old piece of furniture that’s musty, you can put it out in the sunlight for a certain period of time. You don’t want it to fade, but that will actually kill some of the bacteria and freshen it up. That’s why if you hang clothes out to dry, they just smell so good.

Yeah, we used to do that way, way back. People would hang clothes out on a clothesline. In Brooklyn, you’d go by and everyone would have their clotheslines. It’s starting to make a slight comeback, not as much.

I see it in Chinatown sometimes.

Really?

Yeah.

Where are they putting it? Windows, fire escapes?

Look up sometimes.

Look up, that’s a good quote. “Look up sometimes,” because people either look straight or down and they’re missing a lot when they’re not checking it out. It was the most beautiful sky, sunset last night. It was just gorgeous. It was pink and blues that were just fantastic, and I was just enamored in walking out and looking up, and I went “Wow.”

Yeah. And you see that the world is something bigger than you, and we’re part of it. It keeps us in check that we’re not the biggest things on this planet. We’re a part of it, and to appreciate the beauty really, I think, helps people to be kinder to each other and to the planet.

How do we get people to move outside, and what do we do? How do we change behaviors so they walk away from their smartphone or tablet or self-involvement and various computer things or porn? I don’t know, how do we get people…

How did we get to that subject?

I don’t know, I guess self-involved. When someone told me in the dictionary, the new word was “selfie,” I was like, “What the hell are you talking about?” Because in my day, that ages me, I was like “okay…” They go, “No it’s a picture that you take of yourself,” and I’m going, “Good to know, good to know.” But aside from that, how do we get people outside more? I know it’s been very cold in the northeast this winter, but I find it invigorating sometimes to go out, even though I was freezing my tail off. It just felt good to be outdoors.

Well, I think, like with the show name, The Many Shades of Green, I think that for some people, they maybe need to have a lighter shade of green, not like an army military green, or it’s really militant. There are these people that are really diligent about it. Maybe it’s a good way to help people start to change their habits by getting them into the light green shades. I think sadly, also, there needs to be a lot of self-interest. Back to the selfie I guess.

Selfies, yes.

Some kind of something that they can see they can gain for themselves, whether it’s saving money or improving their health, but it does start with yourself. So I like to give people small, digestible tips that they can do and present it in such a way that they can’t really make an excuse as to why they don’t want to do it, and it’s really easy to integrate in their lives. It’s just kind of like the gateway drug into the militant green…

So far in the show we’ve talked porn and gateway drugs. Listen out there, this is not...hey, it’s part of the environment. Everything’s connected. So what are some of the small things? Like, because of you, I have a lot of plants in my house. Not because of you, because I had them for a while, but in my son’s apartment, in the village, it was devoid of anything, other than like bachelor guy stuff. I finally got him some plants and I asked him if he took care of the plants and he goes, his roommate’s doing a good job with them. So I can’t get him to do it, but at least I brought plants in there. So what else can you bring in?

Plants are good things. Recently, I’ve really been pushing non-toxic cleaners, actually, because I think a lot of people, especially now with greenwashing, where people see the label “natural” on something and they automatically think it’s organic or healthy or good for them just like fat-free was or whatever, this goes for cleaning products too. I think that there are so many people that are super green, that are “army green,” that have Windex in their kitchen cabinet, and I think that’s a really easy thing to change. You could just wait until you finish using it up or you can give it away to someone, and then you can just buy, there’s so many different products available. Buy a cleaning product that’s safer for you, because it’s so much healthier for you. It improves your health, it improves your air quality because we’re inside all the time.

Can you make your own? Is there, I know vinegar and they have different things...You can go online, and you can make your own dishwashing stuff or cleaning agents that are just typical stuff you can buy in the store, and it doesn’t have the chemicals that are making everyone sick.

Yes, you could definitely make your own with things like vinegar or baking soda. There are a lot of recipes online. I have some on my blog.

What is that blog so people can go check out where they might be able to make their own cleaning stuff?

Holisticspaces.com. It’s  H – O – L – I – S – T – I – C spaces.com.

Okay, so if you want to find out about how you can make your own cleaning solutions, I guess, Anjie has it on her site and that’s really, really great. Now also, something that concerns me that hasn’t really been put out that much, is something that comes out of your electronic products.

EMFs.

EMFs. What’s an EMF?

Well, EMFs are electromagnetic forces, and I actually have an EMF meter. I can bring it next time.

Yeah, it will probably go off to charts in here, okay but…

But it’s an invisible sort of toxic pollution that we create with Wi-Fi and electronics, and it’s amazing. Sometimes, people tell me they sleep on, like some people sleep on their cellphones, and that’s crazy!

People sleep on their cellphones?

Yes, I know people that put it under their pillow, and those cellular waves are affecting you for 8 hours straight when you’re passive, and you’re not even moving so it really affects you. They’ve done even studies, I saw, recently, they’ve tried to grow plants next to a Wi-Fi router and they wouldn’t grow. They did comparisons. Because the waves are actually not very healthy. Of course I’m not going say that you should eliminate Wi-Fi from your life, not at all, but just be aware. There’s actually, I have something called a plug buster, and you put it in the wall, and it works on an energetic level, like a woo-woo level, but not really a physical level, but it neutralizes the negative effects of EMFs. I have this area in my…

Where did you get that? I mean, is that something…

On a woo-woo website.

On a woo-woo website, okay.

Well, it’s kind of a little hippie, but…

We like hippie. We’re in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Where else can you get more hippie or hipster-y or whatever you want to call it, uber hipster?

There’s an area in my apartment in which the EMF reader goes off the charts, and I happen to have a fish tank there, and no matter what, all the fish just die. Nothing will survive there. So it’s really something that…

The fish are dying from that?

Yeah. So I should move my fish. I’ve tried, even the plug buster won’t help this one.

The fish need to go to another…

Yes.

Wow! That’s pretty crazy.

Yeah, and it causes headaches. There are easy ways to avoid it. Really watch out for the bedroom. I would put like the cellular phone away from your head, at least 5 feet away in your bedroom. Battery operated things are okay, but anything plugged in also creates EMFs. So some people have power strips under their bed. That’s not good. and it affects your sleep. So just moving them away from you and eliminating the electronics in your bedroom, if possible, is really good.

I keep my cellphone downstairs at night. I just try to not even have it, because of not only thinking about what it might be transmitting but also, it’s just, it makes you unnerved. And then someone calls the wrong number one time when I did keep it. It scared the hell out of me at 3 in the morning. I’m like, “God, what happen? Oh, wrong number. It’s like, it’s 3 in the morning, what planet are you on?” But just the fact that to keep that stuff away.

Even the light on an iPhone or iPad, the light that it emits is one that keeps you up. It wakes you up. Also, for instance, I have a client that emailed me, or texted me actually, at night a couple months ago, but she had just read an email from someone else, and she was like, “Oh I shouldn’t have checked my email,” but of course she was on her iPhone, checking her email before she went to bed, and then she felt like her night was ruined and she couldn’t go to sleep all night. So in a very practical way, it’s good to kind of shut those things off and let yourself wind down before you go to bed.

I have kind of a 10 o’clock rule now.

Hmm, that’s good.

I mean, if people can’t reach me before 10pm with something then after that, I’m kind of useless. Unless you’re a musician and you’re up all night or an artist or whatever. Those people are definitely have a different rhythm. Do you notice that your clients, some of them in the creative fields have different rhythms than those who are like finance or something?

Sometimes, although I did have a doctor that work at night shift, and he would text me in the middle of the night, and that was not fun. I had to say “No more texts, please. Just email me.”

Really? Wow. I guess they don’t realize that there are other people that are not working and sleeping at that hour.

Yeah, but I absolutely think that EMFs are an issue that we’re going to start to maybe see the effects of later on, but I think it’s just about acknowledging it and reducing it when you can. Obviously, you want be able to interact in the world and be a part of the world, but just don’t overload yourself with these EMFs all around you.

Alright. So EMFs, selfies, all these crazy things going on. So again, where can people get information about your company?

Oh, holisticspaces.com, with an H.

Okay, alright. So I’m glad you came. I’m so happy you were here.

Thank you.

It’s really wonderful to have you and be such a friend of the show. So we’ll have you back again very soon and give us more tips on things.

I’ll bring my EMF meter next time.

I want to see what the EMFs are here in the studio. I can’t even imagine, it must be off the charts.

I hope it doesn’t break my EMF meter.

We’ll have to put armor on or something. I don’t know, or those HazMat suits? We’ll just work in HazMat suits. But thanks again.

We’ve been talking with Anjie Cho, founder of Holistic Spaces and Ann Delmarmo, who’s the founder of 2 Green Minds, and we are very much aware that we need to have Feng Shui in our lives and an energy that has chi and positive force, and people need to be aware that they have to have eco-conscious behavior.

And so with that, with also eco-napkins being a product that is reducing waste, which is very important as well, so we thank Ann for that, we thank you for being on the show. And thanks for joining us for the Many Shades of Green, a program about environmental sustainability, culture, the arts and community. Listen to the show on your laptop, tablet, desktop or smartphone. Visit us on Facebook, send as a tweet @TMShadesOfGreen and subscribe to our Podcast on iTunes.

by Anjie Cho

About the host

Maxine Margo Rubin has been involved with the media business as a content producer and part-time co-host for Air America (Marc Sussman’s Money Message), and hosted and produced Village Green on WDFH, a show which focused on topics of environmental sustainability and progressive social issues.


The Many Shades of Green Radio Show

Last week, I was featured on THE MANY SHADES OF GREEN

The Many Shades of Green delves into topics that affect the environment in Brooklyn and beyond, as we move to raise social awareness via culture, politics, music and the arts. We all have to learn to think outside the box, to promote ideas that will make the world a better place for this and future generations.

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Many Shades of Green, August 2013

BBox Radio Interview

Anjie Cho founder of Holistic Spaces and LEED Certified Architect is my guest this week. We discuss the green benefits of feng shui in design, and how the energy of “chi” brings spirituality, beauty and sustainability to your home or office. Find out why the number 9 is important and why eco-conscious behavior will help you put the “ohm” in your home. Go to anjiecho.com to get more info on Feng Shui and other eco design tips.
#1335: Anjie Cho

Interview Transcript:

Syd: Hi, this is Syd from Rock and Wrap it Up, and you’re listening to The Many Shades of Green on Beat Box Radio. Ciao.

MMR: Hi, I’m Maxine Margo Rubin, and this is The Many Shades of Green, our program that explores environmental and social issues that reflect the greening of our communities. The Many Shades of Green delves into topics that affect the environment, both locally and globally, as we move to raise social awareness via culture and politics, music and the arts. There are many variations, or shades, of environmental consciousness which affect what actions we take to protect the planet. Everyone has a shade of green that connects them to the natural earth.

Our guest this week on The Many Shades of Green is Anjie Cho, a LEED certified architect, interior designer and founder of Holistic Spaces, which uses the energy of chi to bring spirituality, beauty and green design to both residential and office spaces. Anjie is also the co-chapter manager of the New York City chapter of the International Feng Shui Guild. We must all apply balance within our own spaces so that we can make and take better care of the earth. So Anjie, welcome to The Many Shades of Green in beautiful downtown Dumbo. How are you doing?

AC: Hi Maxine, it’s such an honor to be back here again.

Ah yeah, you’re a friend to the show. Like Saturday Night Live has all these hosts that are the five club, so now you’re in the club. Welcome to the club.

I’m very flattered.

And you’re a worthy club member. So if you had to pick a shade of green, what shade would you be?

Well, I think that changes all the time, and it really depends, but I think today maybe I’m lime green.

Okay and lime green, expand on that a bit.

Lime green. I think lime is very vibrant, and it’s very bright, and it exudes a kind of glow, so that’s how I feel. That’s the shade of green I feel like today with the work I’m doing.

Great. So we got a lime green. We got lime greenie in here today. That’s a good thing. I like limes, because they’re green. They also have a sour flavor, which makes my cranberry juice taste better.

Yes…

Because it adds that…

It’s very alkaline too in your body.

It’s very alkaline.

Mmhm.

Alkaline things are good for you.

Yes.

It’s something people need more of in their nutrition, and when they’re drinking things and eating the right stuff, they’ll get a better balance, correct?

Yes.

I guess. I mean, I’m not a nutritionist but I’ve spoken to enough of them for them to yell at me about that. So how does Feng Shui...now is it “Feng Shwei” or “Fung Shwei?”

We say “Fung Shwei.”

Even though there’s an F – E – N – G component, okay.

But you could say in any way you want, because anything you do is absolutely the right thing to do at that time.

Okay, so I’m going to go with “Fung Shwei,” since that seems to be the right one.

That’s the way I say it.

Okay. I think, is that the way most people?

That’s the way my teachers say it, and my teachers from China say “Fung Shwei.”

Okay.

With the emphasis on the “Feng,” “Fung Shwei.”

Emphasis in the “Feng,” “Fung Shwei,” okay.

It means “wind and water.”

Really?

Mhmm.

I did not know that. See? We’re getting an education component going here. So how does Feng Shui intertwine with issues of sustainability? I mean, how does that work?

Well, I like to say that Feng Shui is the original Green Design, because, one, it’s an ancient philosophy, thousands and thousands of years old, and it’s based on the cycles of nature. It’s really about looking at your environment and looking at the cycles and patterns of nature and seeing how those affect your life and using them to your advantage to create a really harmonious life. So being in tune with the environment creates this harmony, and also it makes you aware of the effect the environment has on you and, in turn, the effect that we have on the environment, so it really creates a sense of responsibility too.

Really? How does that responsibility come out? To me, almost...Feng Shui when you’re doing interior design and you’re with a client, it’s not only getting...you need to read the client. It’s almost therapeutic, it’s almost like you’re a therapist in many ways.

Absolutely.

I mean, how does that component work within getting the person to change their behavior?

It’s very much an intuitive process and absolutely can be, for some clients, therapeutic and like therapy, like talk therapy, but the difference is I recommend to the clients things that they can do, shift in their environment, whether it be to move their bed around or add a plant, whatever it is. Make a small shift, a physical shift, to let the universe know they really want to implement these changes in their life. And if the client wants to go there and really look into what the issues are in their life, I can help them, but if they’re not ready to do that, I could still advise them to add a plant. By adding a plant…

We’re talking a green plant, some nice plant…

A living, yeah, a living household plant, and that, in a subtle way, creates a change in a person’s life that they start to have to take care of something. So many of my clients come to me and they say, "I have no idea how to keep a plant alive. I just have a black thumb and I’ve had so many problems keeping plants," and it’s amazing.

How do you not take care of a plant? I mean, what do these people tell you as their excuses? Like I have, I don’t have a green thumb or I can’t take care of a plant, what does that say? I mean, how do they explain that? I mean, what don’t they do with a plant? I mean, how do you get them to even change their mindset to be able to take care of a plant?

Well first, I think that we’ve really sadly lost touch with even taking care of a plant, which is really indicative of where we are in our society. We’ve lost touch with how we’re taking care of our environment and the earth. So just taking a small thing like a plant, people get scared. They’re too scared to take care of plant. They don’t know what to do. It’s a living thing. It can die.

Right.

So what I suggest, sometimes I give them a plant from my home, because I create lots of little cuttings, and I just teach them. First, I try to have them do it on their own and then they usually...

This is plant 101. We’ve got it right here on The Many Shades of Green. We’re talking about getting green plants into your home and Anjie’s telling us how to do that and how people deal with it.

So I ask them to bring a plant to their home and position it in a certain place in their home to represent something. Plants represent growth, flexibility and it cultivates human heartedness and connection to other people and to the earth. So, first they might overwater it, usually. Either they neglect it completely, and it dies because there’s no water, or they overwater it, and when they get to that point, they let me know. "Oh, I killed the plant because I overwatered it or…"

I killed a plant, okay.

And then…

Only in New York folks. Alright, go ahead.

So then, I say, you know what? Just take your thumb and just stick it, or your finger, and stick it in the soil, and what do you feel? And they’ve never even done that. They don’t know how to get their hands dirty. So, is it wet? Is it dry? Is it moist? Is it completely flooded? What’s going on there? And then you can respond to the plant, and when my clients start to see that they can actually nurture a plant, it creates a huge shift in their lives. So even something as simple as asking someone to add a plant to improve overall indoor air quality, it adds life energy. There’s so many positives to it. And in another way, it creates connection to the earth and the environment, and it allows people to start to care for something.

Right, if it’s not, as I said once before, a Chihuahua, then a Dieffenbachia might actually work. So that’s pretty amazing to just get people to take care of plants, because that disconnect with nature is something that’s a problem.

Absolutely.

People are so connected, and the question about changing behavior, I mean, how do you do that? So if you have a client and they’re in a small apartment in the city, can you tell the minute you walk in what’s off about the person?

Well, I do have a little cheat sheet, usually, when I come in, because they send me their floor plans. By looking at their floor plan, I can usually glean some information, and they also, before I go in, they tell me the issues they want work on. Usually it’s, they want a relationship, they want more money or they want to figure out their career. And those are kind of superficial issues, and when I talk to them and during the consultation, I get in deeper, but I can see by what they told me they want to work on and issues and their floor plan, I can pick up what their underlying issues might be.

What are the most underlying issues that you can usually tell, I’m just curious, about a person when you walk in to their house?

Well, for instance, I’m thinking of one client. I walked in, and she showed me (she’s an artist) where she paints. And she squeezed all her things for painting and her easel and everything right in this tiny foyer right at the front door. So her back is facing the door and she’s just really tight, in this tiny space, and that’s where she’s doing her art. That really tells me, you’re not honoring yourself, you’re not giving yourself the space that you need physical and emotionally and creatively to do your work, so that’s a really obvious metaphor.

Mhmm. So what’s the biggest space you’ve ever worked in?

Well for architecture, I’ve worked on spaces 40,000 square foot, 2 floor law firms and…

Law firms?

Yes.

Well that’s interesting. Talk about chi in that, who knows! Can you actually have chi in law firm? Do they actually have nice balanced, pretty spaces or you have a lot of plants in there to cover things up? I don’t know.

Well, it depends. There’s so many different types of attorneys, right? But…

Maybe the environmental ones. Maybe that’s how you can do it. Was it an environmental firm?

No, it wasn’t. But I’ve worked for all different types of client, and they all have their own needs, and I don’t go in with any judgments. I try to give them what they need, and sometimes they just need plain architecture, and I put in the Feng Shui there. They might not even know about it, but I can’t design without it anymore.

So how have you stayed faithful in your own self to the green movement in your personal space? I mean, how do you fit into your own space? What have you done?

Well, I nag my husband every day about putting everything things in the recycling, so I incorporate recycling and composting, and I do my best. I don’t take plastic bags; I bring bags to the grocery store, and those are really simple things. I’ve also, about 5 years ago, I stopped using toxic cleaners and store bought cleaners, and I make my own.

How do you make your own cleaners?

I actually give all my clients a list of do-it-yourself, green, non-toxic cleaners. You could take things like vinegar and water, and I like to mix it up with maybe some eucalyptus oil, some lavender, whatever essential oils you like, and I create my own cleaning products.

Wow, is that good for just a general thing or you can use it...? So, instead of getting stuff with chemicals, you can just use vinegar, water and some eucalyptus. Where would you get that? Health food stores or something?

Mhmm. You could get at health food store, they have essential oils in little tiny bottles.

How much do you put in there? Like a tiny little bit?

I put 9 drops.

9 drops. Is there any reason?

9 is most auspicious number in Feng Shui. It’s a number of completion. It’s the last single digit integer, and it represents completion.

Wow, is that why they have it repeating in one of the Beatles’ songs? The number 9, number 9, number 9?

Maybe. Well, 108 is a multiple of 9, because 1 + 0 + 8 is 9 as well, and actually my book is also 108.

Yeah, we’re going to talk about your book after the break. 108 Ways to Create Holistic Spaces for Healing and Organic Homes, is that…

Mhmm, for homes.

Okay. You’ll have to come to my house, and maybe I can be guinea pig or something. So we’re here with Anjie Cho talking about Feng Shui, “Feng Shui,” I’m going to get this all wrong, and we’ll talk more about it after the break. You’re listening to The Many Shades of Green.

And we’re back with Anjie Cho and we’re talking about chi and maybe a little yantra, might sound foreign to you. She has a new book she’s working on. Right now, I guess you’re still just writing it?

I’m still writing it. The book is called “108 Ways to Create Holistic Space: Feng Shui and Green Design for Healing and Organic Environments” or “Homes.” I haven’t decided yet.

That’s a nice title. Now, let’s try to get into what you’re writing. What chapters are you up to and what do you, or are you going to explain what’s in this book now?

I’ve read so many Feng Shui books, and I have a huge library of Feng Shui books, and they’re great for me because I’m a Feng Shui practitioner, but I found so many people are interested in Feng Shui and don’t know how to implement it. When they get a book, it’s so overwhelming, because there’s so much information about the philosophy. Being a New Yorker, I am very efficient and to the point, and I really want to make Feng Shui and Green Design something that people can do for themselves in easy ways. So I want to give different tips, simple tips, that are easily implementable in to their homes and, I think we’re just going to focus on the home.

Okay.

So just 108 different ways to incorporate Green Design and Feng Shui principles.

And 108 again is, the meaning behind 108?

Well, there’s actually 108 beads in a mala which is, Vedic prayer beads are called the mala, and there’s 108 beads. In a lot of traditions, Buddhist tradition and Vedic tradition, 108 is a sacred number. It’s also a multiple of 9, because if you add 1 + 0 + 8, it also equals 9 and it’s 9 x11, I think. And 9 is number of completion. It’s something that we use a lot. We do everything in multiples of 9 in Feng Shui.

It’s interesting, because in Judaism, 18 is a number of importance and luck and greatness, and if you add 1 and 8, you get 9. So there’s a definite connection. Okay, so there’s 108 tips that are going to be in the book. So what would you start with first in your house as a number 1 tip? Where would you start?

Where would you start? I would start at the entry where you walk in.

Okay.

And I always encourage, well, your entry represents your face to the world and how the universe sees you and how opportunities come to you. So I suggest to my clients and friends that they should create a nice, welcoming entry. This means making sure there’s a bright light. You don’t have to use that light all the time, but put in a bright light bulb so you bring light to your face to the world. You have the ability to be seen.

Would that be a LED light? Are you are proponent of kind of lights that you’re using? I mean, do you tell your clients, and in terms of being green when you actually are practicing Feng Shui, I would imagine you would say hey, use green products, use lighting, use woods that are better and stuff like that. So is that something you also have in the book?

Yes, I suggest switching to LED or compact fluorescent lighting, which is more energy efficient, and they last much longer. And whenever I specify any fixtures, I do my best to specify those more energy efficient fixtures. And using natural materials is really important in terms of sustainability and with Feng Shui, because when you have synthetic materials that 1: don’t biodegrade, 2: you have to create more plastic, it also, in the Feng Shui world also represents kind of dead energy.

Really?

Mhmm. So you want to surround yourself with natural products that have their own power. It’s so easy to ignore what you can’t see, or ignore what you’ve gotten used to, like toxic chemicals in your environment. I was talking earlier about having cut out all those store bought cleaning products. As soon as I did that, it took about a year, but now I’m so sensitive when I go to a space where they use synthetic toxic cleaning products, and I immediately get a headache. That didn’t happen before because I was desensitized to it.

Yeah, I can’t walk into Home Depot at all.

Oh, yeah.

The minute I walk in, sorry Home Depot, but there’s so much stuff in the air from the woods and the plastics that it takes me literally 60 seconds, and I’m out. So that’s something that’s pretty crazy. So what else in the space do you recommend? I mean, colors and what else is positive and also is environmentally friendly?

One thing I also promote is to use a gas stove, actually. So if you have an electric stove, that’s okay, but it’s better if you put in a gas stove. That’s better for the environment to not use electricity, if it could have the natural gas, but it’s also better for your food, because you’re actually using fire to cook your food. So that’s something I’d suggest. I also always recommend that you have to keep your stove clean all the time, because the stove represents how you nourish yourself in the world, and that, in turn, represents wealth and money. How well you nourish yourself affects how much money you make in the world so I…

Really? There’s a cause and effect for how you nourish yourself and how much money you make?

Mhmm.

I never would put that, sort of, together, fear and food. I mean, I wouldn’t really put that together. Now that you’re making me think about it, I could see your point, to a degree, but that’s something I never would have thought of. In a lot of places, they have to have electric stoves, because they don’t have gas, and now there’s also a big commotion about gas pipelines coming in to the city. It’s one giant mess. We have to start getting solar stoves going, because there’s pipelines now bringing gas into parts of the village right by a playground and underneath beaches. You can be sitting on the sand and it can be a pipeline under your butt and boy, you can have a really good time.

So maybe I shouldn’t recommend gas.

Well, it depends what it is. It depends. I mean, there’s all sorts of stuff. I mean, I’m not going to say poo-poo to having fire. I mean, I have a propane tank in the side of my house to just have. But I want to have a solar heater, but they said I couldn’t do it because of the angle of the sun, so I do have a fire, and I do face towards the door so I guess that’s good.

Well, what I do in the morning is, when I stir my tea or my oatmeal, I stir in positive energy. So that’s similar. So if you’re in a situation where you’re at your stove and you’re not in command, where you can’t see the door, then you’re under a level of stress and you’re putting that stress into your food and that therefore affects how you act in the world. So I recommend that you be able to face the door. If you can’t, you put a mirror. And also to use your stove every day and to also pay attention to what burner you use. Like I always used to go to the same burner all the time…

I do sometimes.

So which one’s your favorite?

It’s actually on the left. The front left is the favorite I use mostly.

So, a Feng Shui cure is to start looking at using a different burner every day, and instead of just going to the same thing, your go to, every day, try a different burner.

Because I lean to the left, I guess. 

Well, just try different burner. Maybe that opens up opportunities in your life and in your career, and it creates a metaphor for you.

Well, if I’m using more than 1 pot, then it’s 3 burners, but the one on the back right, I never use.

Oh, is it broken?

No, I just don’t use it. I don’t understand why.

So your challenge is to use that.

Use the back burner. I’ll let you know next time, but that’s pretty crazy. Now, we’re trying to get people to change behavior, but we’re also trying to figure out, sometimes there’s a dilemma. People have too much in their brains, so they’re not sure where to go first to try to be either better citizens or greener citizens, and we had, in a prior conversation, spoken about, okay, so how do we clean the yogurt that just spilled on this table? What would you do?

Well, one way to look at it Feng Shui- and green-wise, or sustainability-wise, is, if you had a bull’s eye with concentric circles, and you’re in the middle and the biggest circle is the universe. You go to universe, then you move in to, like the US, and you move in to New York and slowly, you get down to your house, your bedroom and then you. And what you have around you, you have the most effect on. So the energy, or the chi, around you, like your bedroom, that’s the area that you can affect the most. So with green initiatives and with Feng Shui, we always recommend that you work on that area closest to you first, because that will have a butterfly effect.

So once you make these changes with yourself, and then maybe make some changes in your room and in your home, you start composting, you switch out to green energy, you make some Feng Shui changes and shift things in your environment around, then that will affect the next circle, which will affect the next circle, and that’s the way that I work with people. How do you make small changes, simple changes and don’t get overwhelmed? Take one thing at a time, and start with yourself, and then you can move out and really start affecting the circles outside of you, and then hopefully maybe we’ll reach the universe.

Well, yeah, I booked the flight on the Virgin Air thing. So I know you have a nice affection towards Brooklyn. We’re in Dumbo and so what is your favorite moment, Brooklyn moment?

Well, my favorite Brooklyn moment was May 29th 2011 when I got married, just down the street here, at 1 Main Street to my husband. That was a really, that was my favorite moment.

Where did you meet him by the way? Because I know there’s a backstory here and hopefully, we’ll get your in-laws on the show...just quickly.

Well, actually we met online.

Ooh, that’s green, you don’t have to…okay, but his parents are?

Oh, his parents actually, well his mother and his stepfather, teach biodynamic farming in Australia and in the US. It’s very interesting. I’d love to get them on the show. I think you would really be interested in what they do. They incorporate biodynamic farming. They work with farmers, and they incorporate holistic techniques to create rain and to stop pests instead of using pesticides.

I’ve been catching pests and throwing them out the door. My husband thinks I’ve lost my mind, but now he’s doing it. So even the strange little moth in my house or whatever, except mosquitoes. I’m sorry guys. You guys have to go, I hate to say it. But I try to find whatever and just throw them outside.

I do that too, except for the mosquitoes. I just…

I’ve been, I must be a feast for them so, but anyway, anyway. So where can people...give us a couple of tips real quick on Feng Shui and then tell us where people can get information about you and your…

Well, they can find tips on Feng Shui, actually, on my blog which is called Holistic Spaces. So it’s www.holisticspaces.com, that’s spelled H – O – L – I – S – T – I – C spaces.com, and my personal website, my work website, is anjiecho.com which is spelled with a J so it’s A – N – J – I – E – C – H – O.com

Okay, that’s cool. And just really quick, people were asking me about e-Waste. Where in the city can people go on a website they can check so they know where to send it?

So we originally met because I used to work for the Lower East Side Ecology Center.

Right, exactly, exactly.

So the Lower East Side Ecology Center is a really wonderful organization, and they have an electronic waste warehouse in Gowanus. You can go in their website, it’s L – E – S as in Lower East Side, ecology  E – C – O – L – O – G – Y center.org.

Cool. Alright, so now people know where to give their e-Waste.

Yeah. And they also have e-Waste events all throughout the city in, I think all five boroughs and you can do a drop off there, or you can go to their warehouse. The hours are listed on the website.

Yeah, it’s pretty important, because people don’t know where to put that stuff. It doesn’t break down well, so you need to bring it somewhere where they’ll take care of it. So anyway, well thank you so much for being here and giving us little more of a Feng Shui education, and you do great things and we’ll have you back again, because you’re in the club now, and I appreciate you being here.

Thank you. You do great work too.

We try, sometimes. So we’ve been talking with Anjie Cho, founder of Holistic Spaces and Feng Shui practitioner extraordinaire. Her philosophy is to help people design spaces that give them chi, positive energy, and balance within their personal lives. This in turn will help create more eco-conscious behavior and awareness of the need to take care of mother earth. So Anjie, thank you again for being here, and thanks for joining us for The Many Shades of Green, our program about environmental sustainability, culture, the arts and community. Listen to the show on your laptop, tablet, desktop or smartphone. Visit us on Facebook, send us a twit at @TMShadesOfGreen. Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes.

by Anjie Cho


About the host

Maxine Margo Rubin has been involved with the media business as a content producer and part-time co-host for Air America (Marc Sussman’s Money Message), and hosted and produced Village Green on WDFH, a show which focused on topics of environmental sustainability and progressive social issues.