Lance Gross, Tatyana Ali help Houston ‘go green’ with Toyota during SWAC

Lance Gross, Tatyana Ali help Houston ‘go green’ with Toyota during SWAC

Lance Gross, Tatyana Ali help Houston ‘go green’ with Toyota during SWAC


by Taylor Reynolds

Posted on March 21, 2014 at 3:06 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 21 at 3:44 PM

HOUSTON—Green activists Tatyana Ali and Lance Gross hosted the Toyota Green Initiative mixer in the Toyota Center’s Lexus Lounge on Friday, March 14. The actors mingled with the crowd and explained their heartfelt passions regarding the environment and how they planned to help turn campuses across the nation “Green.”

The Toyota Green initiative (TGI) is a movement to help find smart, simple ideas that can make an environmental impact in lives and communities. Working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) TGI is leading the way to a better tomorrow. The company says the more we all learn about how green issues have affects on communities, the better we can shape the future.

For the first time, the SWAC (South West Athletic Conference) Tournament was being held in Houston.  TGI brought the two hosts from California to spread the movement to Texas and beyond.

We chatted with the "Go-Green" ambassadors about their involvement with the initiative, and upcoming projects.

“Going Green makes sense; you’re making your life better.” -- Tatyana Ali

Reynolds: What got you involved with the Toyota Green Initiative?

Ali: I love what they’re trying to do; I do a lot of work with HBCU’s, young black people and also in the community. Toyota specifically sees our young people as trendsetters, which I believe we are in every industry, so if we are going to go green it should start with us. I love when corporations take their economic power and actually do good in the communities that are giving them their dollars, so this is a perfect fit for me.

Reynolds: How does going green start? What makes it easier to give up certain things?

Ali: What you said is really interesting, I think that’s what people think when they think about going green, they think that they have to give up something. You’re actually not giving anything up. I can’t think of anything I’ve had to give up in order to go green. It’s more of like a switch, like a paradigm shift, I still use light bulbs in my house, but it’s the type that I chose to buy. Whether its light bulbs, the type of car you choose to drive, things in your home that you re-use, or making your own cleaning products. You’re still using the same things in your life, you’re just switching how you use it and what types you use so you’re actually saving money.

Reynolds: Really?

Ali: Yeah, actually I bought a Prius because of the Obama Campaign in 2008. I had been talking about the new green economy along with all of these wonderful improvements and I felt like a silly hypocrite because I was going to the gas station and spending $100+ to fill up all the time. Now that I have my Prius, I fill up maybe twice a month. All-in-all, going green makes sense. You’re not giving anything up, you’re making your life better.

Later during a one-on-one interview with one of the starring actors on NBC’s upcoming show Crisis, Lance Gross, tells us Toyota helped save his life during an automobile accident. He also told us how Toyota inspired him to make better health decisions.

 "Its self-explanatory, it’s kind of like the cool thing to do." -- Lance Gross 

Reynolds: How is life today?

Gross: Life is good, I can’t complain.

Reynolds: Great! So can you please tell me what got you involved with the Toyota Green Initiative Campaign?

Gross: This is actually my fourth year with the Green Initiative; I was approached by Toyota to do this because Toyota has a special place in my heart. I got into a really bad accident when I was in high school and I think it was the safety of the vehicle along with God that kept me in a good place. I was also interested in this because you always hear people talking about going green, but sometimes you don’t know how simple it is. So I took this as an opportunity to educate myself and I felt like I could be that voice to the youth to inspire them to actually go green.

Reynolds: I’m glad you survived that accident! Can you tell us about some minor changes that you’ve made to go green?

Gross: I started off with electronics; I was the person that would leave TVs and lights on. I travel a lot so I would even leave appliances on while I was away. I started by unplugging everything, even the TV. I recently bought a condo when I started the Toyota Green Initiative so I replaced all of my appliances with Energy Star appliances. Not only was I doing something good for the earth, I was also saving money on my electric bill.

Now that I am getting older, my parents both are living with Diabetes and heart disease runs in my family, so now it’s more about the stuff I put into my body. I eat more organic foods, I juice and stuff like that.

Reynolds: How do you think this campaign will persuade younger black people and HBCU students to go green?

Gross: Its self-explanatory, it’s kind of like the cool thing to do. You have to be conscious of your surroundings. Toyota’s Green Initiative movement has simplified it and made it appealing.

Reynolds: Is there anything that we can expect from you in the near future?

Gross: Yes, Sunday March 16, my show Crisis on NBC is premiering. It’s just starting, we have 13 episodes, hopefully we will get another season so that’s what is in store for me.

Reynolds: So will you be active on Twitter during the premiere?

Gross: Yes, I will be Tweeting live [@LanceGross].