As the current co-president of the New York chapter of
"Basically, our mission is to start a huge movement to stop exposures to toxic environments throughout our lives," she says. "We try to make people rethink what they do in everyday life, like in their dorm. We hope people will be green -- not only for themselves, but for the people around them. They can do this in their dorms, even through social conversations with their friends. Just saying you want to be green isn't enough. You have to get involved and do things actively. You have to change what you eat, what you do and what you buy."
Ally says her organic lifestyle has a made a huge impact on how she feels -- literally and figuratively. "I felt that the things around me weren't helping my situation. [Ally struggles with arthritis.] I took all the toxic chemicals out of my food, and I haven't been in pain in a while -- I've stopped taking my medicine! I realized it's not only food, but what I put on my body and what I use every day. I feel much better all around -- it's been essential for me."
She says "greening up" a dorm room can simply come down to making educated purchasing decisions. "It's pretty amazing how accessible organic stuff is today, but no one realizes it," she says. "People usually buy what's cheapest for their dorm, but places like JCPenney have organic stuff, too!"
Ally recommends a few easy ways to "green up" your kid's dorm:
- Reuse old furniture by painting it with no-VOC paint, such as YOLO Colorhouse.
- Invest in organic sheets. Ally swears by those made by Coyuchi.
- Ally's a big fan of using biodegradable laundry detergents like Soap Nuts -- just take three, put them into a canvas bag with your dirty laundry and stick quarters into the machine!
- Check out local antique or vintage shops for furniture. (Steer clear of plastic.)
- Buy lots of plants -- they produce oxygen and help clean the air.
Ally's proud mom, Jill Zarin, says it's important to support kids with their "green" mission.
"It's just a matter of educating your teenager," she says. "You have to show them the alternatives and encourage them to make the green choice. You also should give your kid a few extra dollars, because it's more expensive to be green and organic. Part of the experience of going to college is wanting to change the world -- and hopefully, what Ally's doing will help."