How Sutton Foster's Daughter Inspires Her to Protect the Planet (Exclusive)

Sophie Hirsh - Author

Jun. 24 2021, Published 10:00 a.m. ET

Sutton Foster
Source: Getty Images

“Without our planet, we’re all screwed,” Sutton Foster tells Green Matters on a recent phone call. The Broadway icon, master crafter, author, and mother has picked up a variety of sustainable living habits in recent years, and she cites her daughter — and her love of spending time outside — as her inspiration for wanting to protect the Earth.

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“During the pandemic, we were spending a ton of time outside, as much as we could,” Foster says. “My husband and I love to bike, and we had a little trailer that we hitched to our bikes so that Emily would ride behind us. But now this year, she’s riding along with us,” Foster says of her 4-year-old daughter, Emily.

The actress spoke with Green Matters on behalf of her new partnership with Banana Boat. The sunscreen brand is working with cycling tracking app Strava on a new campaign called Pedal For Our Planet. Between June 24 and July 7, 2021, you can track your bike rides in Strava, and for every 10 miles biked and logged in the app, Banana Boat will make a donation to environmental youth charity Captain Planet Foundation. Foster thinks the campaign is “a great way for families to come together and do something that you would organically do [while raising] money.”

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Sutton Foster
Source: Getty Images

As Foster winds down from Younger’s series finale, rehearses for her return to the stage in Anything Goes on London’s West End next month, and gears up for The Music Man on Broadway later this year, we asked the legendary actress to share her Green Routine with Green Matters.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

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GREEN MATTERS: What inspires you to protect the planet and want to make habit changes?

SUTTON FOSTER: My daughter. She’s 4 years old. I recognize that the planet is changing. Every year, you recognize that things are changing, and you recognize that if we don’t do something now, that we are going to get to a place where it’s too late. Talking to you makes me [realize], I want to do more! So I would really love to do more. Even the little things, they add up. 

When my daughter is my age, things are vastly going to change. And I want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. So I would like to be able to do my part so that she has a wonderful life on this planet, and that it can be the best it can be for her, and her family.

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GM: Are there any activities that you do with your daughter to teach her about protecting the planet? 

SF: We recycle. We are very mindful about water, because she loves to play with water. I’ve become huge with no more plastic water bottles, we always bring our reusable water bottles with us. I always bring bags to the grocery store. I know that there’s so much more I can be doing with her, and so much more that I want to be doing — there is room for improvement.

Taking mass transit, or trying to be mindful about walking or bicycling — there are all these little ways that you can be mindful about what your imprint is on the Earth. [My daughter is] so sweet because she reaches down to pick up trash — of course it’s in New York City, so I’m like, “Don’t touch that!” but she’s like, “But it’s trash, we need to throw it away!”

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GM: Your book Hooked: How Crafting Saved My Life is coming out later this year. Do you have any tips for crafting sustainably?

SF: I don’t like to throw anything away, because I feel like anything can be turned into a craft project. For my daughter too — the whole pandemic, every cap that came off of any [bottle] went into a bowl that she could make something with. If there was a tube from toilet paper, we saved every jar — I was saving everything, because any of this can be used, especially for kids.

There is a wonderful yarn company called Lion Brand Yarn, and they have a lot of recycled yarns. I tend to make a lot of my projects out of their 100 percent cotton yarn, which I love working with because I love the way it feels. Then they have a yarn called Re-Up which is recycled, and then they have a Re-Tweed, which is recycled tweed yarn, and those are both awesome.

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GM: Younger's series finale recently aired — how was filming the final season?

SF: We shot it during the pandemic, October to February, during the surge of the pandemic, so it was definitely intense. But honestly, I felt so lucky to be able to be working. Theater has been nonexistent for 15 months, so it’s been devastating to the theater industry, so we all felt just incredibly fortunate. 

And the environment felt very safe. There were a ton of protocols and a lot of testing, and it was definitely a challenging time, but I felt like we were able to still keep a joyous set. For four months, we had this little gift to escape into the Younger world and pretend like life was normal, even though it was very much not. I felt very lucky that we were able to do it.

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GM: How are you feeling about returning to the theater and starring in Anything Goes?

SF: We’re in rehearsals, we just started this week. It’s emotional. It feels incredible to be back. I will never take it for granted ever. I never thought in a million years that what I did for a living would just not exist — being in a rehearsal room, singing, dancing, creating something that’s so joyful and delightful. 

Honestly, I’m thrilled to be back onstage and performing, but I cannot wait to be in the audience. I’m so excited to go see a show! Take me to the theater. I cannot wait. Do I have to wear a mask? Sure, I don’t care. Whatever I have to do, I want to be there. I am so there. I want to cheer and scream and cry and be transported. And I can’t wait.

"Green Routine" is a series from Green Matters that invites notable people in the environmental space to share the efforts they make to live more sustainably.

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