For the last 30 years, Drew Barrymore has spent her New Year’s Eve writing resolutions on postcards and mailing them to herself. It’s a tradition she does alone and with other people, toting a stack of pre-stamped postcards wherever she spends the holiday to write down her intentions for the year. Postcards from years past are scattered across different addresses and storage boxes, a collection of promises that she’s both kept and broken.
“I always had this lingering one that was the same thing over and over, and it was clearly a bad habit in my life,” she tells NYLON over Zoom. “And 20 years later, I'm like, that is so sad that I'm still writing this. I finally fixed it, I'm happy to say, but it's a good litmus test because you're like, God, the same thing every year?”
This year, Barrymore’s goal is to work a little less — a tall order for the actress and talk show host. But it’s also to catch herself when she’s putting herself down, as well as to continue her journey towards being more sustainable, which is made much easier by her partnership with Grove Co., the first plastic-neutral retailer in the world, which sells sustainable household cleaning products with the hope of inspiring people to make more sustainable choices when it comes to their everyday routines. Barrymore is Grove’s first Global Brand Sustainability Advocate, as well as an investor.
An hour with Barrymore would probably fix my whole life; there’s something about her that is immensely comforting, and her advice is approachable, whether it’s making a holiday alone sound peaceful and glam, or offering easy tweaks to make a vacation more sustainable, like ditching the plastics at rental homes, bringing your own laundry detergent sheets and bars of soap and shampoo, or gifting experiences instead of things. When it comes to sustainability and New Year’s resolutions, it’s best to start small — it’s more about building habits, Barrymore says.
“Focus on three to five real changes that you want to make,” she says of New Year’s resolutions. “They don't have to all be heavy, so it could be really cute and motivating... little delightful things you'd like to do.”
Barrymore spoke with NYLON about everything from how to enjoy Christmas alone to the Grove products that help her have a more sustainable holiday season.
I would love to hear a little bit about how you are planning a sustainable holiday season this year.
I definitely start with the travel and the packing. I try to just bring a bar of soap, bring a bar of shampoo, use the Grove resealable bags to pack my little biodegradable floss sticks and my tea tree kitchen wipes by Grove, my hand soap wipes that literally turned from this beautiful little flat piece of what feels almost like a foam sheet of paper into a full hand washing experience and try to just get rid of all the plastic aspects out of my life. So that's where I start.
I also just think: try to plan your trip in a way that's most eco-conscious, whether that's fly there commercial and stay in an eco-minded establishment that suits your budget and suits your lifestyle. I love bringing the Grove laundry detergent sheets to a house rental, so I guess it's really trip dependent. I'm going on a trip this Christmas, but I'm going on a trip for spring break where I will be in a house rental and my Grove laundry detergent sheets will be going with me.
What were holidays like growing up for you? Do you have any traditions that you like to continue?
I didn't really have a traditional family, so we didn't do Christmas tree; we didn't do presents. I actually spent a lot of holidays by myself reading books. Sometimes I would take a trip with friends if I felt motivated, but I really struggled a lot through the holidays most of my life, and I was always so sensitive to how hard the holidays can be.
And then I got older and it sort of felt like, hey, if I spend the holidays alone, this is kind of an empowered choice. I get to take off work, I get to read my books. I could do staycations. They're just days. You just sort of pass through them. And then I started really liking my holidays alone.
I really loved Friendsgiving and taking maybe trips with girlfriends who also were not as family-oriented, or they could spend the holidays with their families, but by December 27th we’d go out somewhere. I'd be like, great, let's book a trip, so I sort of changed my mindset on that. The holidays can be anything. Then I fell in love with David Sedaris and I was like, oh, the holidays can be funny; I get it.
I think a lot of people don't have the same holidays every year of their life. We all covet and admire the families who live in that same house and have that big family and do the same thing every year. I would love to have and build that tradition. I think you just get to have so many chapters and seasons throughout your life.
So now that I have kids, we decorate our tree, we have our ornaments, we put on the Vince Guaraldi Peanuts music, we buy a Christmas tree with their dad and our stepmom, Allie. We go every year, we take a picture and we do it. We're just building our traditions along the way.
But for me and the girls, I'm like, ‘we're taking a trip every Christmas. I don't want to do presents under the tree. I want to take you somewhere that you'll remember and I'll take pictures and I'll make you a book of it afterwards and let's build an arsenal of great life experiences.’ Also, I just think travel expands the mind and the horizon so much.
I'd love to hear about your intentions for New Year's this year and what you've been thinking about.
Every single New Year's since I can remember, I've written a postcard to myself, and I usually tend to bring a bunch to whoever I'm with and wherever I am. I spend a lot of New Year's Eve’s by myself too, but if I'm with people or at a dinner party or I'm on a trip with a group of people, I'll get enough for everyone and I will make sure that they have stamps on them, because that's where the whole operation fails. If you don't mail them that night, you won't mail them. And I say, put your resolutions on them and send it to yourself.
What are some of the resolutions that you have had before?
Funny, I always had this lingering one that was the same thing over and over, and it was clearly a bad habit in my life, like ‘I will do this less.’ And 20 years later I'm like, that is so sad that I'm still writing this. I finally fixed it. So I'm happy to say, but it's a good litmus test because you're like, God, the same thing every year? It's still a problem. Interesting.
Do you ever go back and revisit the old ones?
They're all over the place because they've been sent to all different addresses that are all different boxes. I wish I had them neatly lined up for every year. It would take me going through so many storage boxes and moves and everything. I really wish I had it all perfectly organized like that. And then there's silly things like, “floss.”
This year it'll probably be to work a little less. I don't know if I'll be able to do that, but I'm going to try. It'll be, “Catch yourself when you're putting yourself down or being negative in your head.” “Remember you have only so much time left on this earth. You can't write these postcards forever. So if you don't fix this one, I'm going to kick your ass.”
Some tough love on there.
Absolutely. And I think another one is always to be more sustainable. I have kids and I wasn't always this person and it took a girlfriend of mine to really change my life. If you care about other people more than yourself, like your kids, or your friends or your family or whoever it is, let them inspire you to want to be on this planet longer.
So thanks to Grove, I have that gift now: I get to work in a partnership that really has been a new family that I've created, and I really care about all the people I work with and I like to make them happy and I appreciate what they're doing in the world and I want to be a part of the amazing change they're trying to create.
But honestly, I'm also an aesthetics junkie. My whole philosophy behind the beautiful line that I created and that is so important to me is that things that live out in your eyesight have to be beautiful. The Grove aesthetic is so modern and clean and crisp. Even when I refill my bottles, I leave the refill bottle out because I love the way it looks. And then it triggers me when I look at it that I'm doing something positive, which in turn makes me feel better about myself.
So really it all tracks back to behavior. If we're not doing something great, we're not going to be nice about it in our heads. And if we're doing something great, we're going to have a little victory dance about it every time we're reminded. So Grove is a very important company, and I was a consumer and a customer before they even asked me to join the company. It's very real to me and my life, and I'm so happy to be working with them. And my girls love it. We are all using Grove products. They don't see plastic in the house. We're living that truth. And so they're going to be brought up and raised in a way where this is the norm, and I think the younger generation is very awake to all of this.
Do you feel like working with Grove has changed holistically, not just how you clean, but how you live your life when it comes to sustainability?
Absolutely, because it's all the cleaning supplies, but it's the reusable bags and it's the wipes and it's the laundry and it's the bottles that are everywhere and the things we buy from the Grove marketplace. The girls see me going, ‘I can't use these plastic toothpicks anymore. What's the answer?’ So I found biodegradable ones or compostable ones. You start reexamining every area.
The holidays seems like a good time to do that because it's traditionally a time of so much excess, too.
Yeah. I think I avoid that by trying to be a more thoughtful person all year long. I'm not as good as, everybody gets gifts during the holidays. I'm like, I'll get you a present in May because something will happen that will inspire that.
Yeah, rather than getting you a bunch of things that you don't need.
Exactly. I'm big on bonuses with people I work with and gifts throughout the year that are appropriate because something occurred.
You seem big on experiences, too.
I am. I'd rather spend the money on that and create memories and expand horizons and see more of the world. That for me is my biggest goal.
Do you have any advice for people keeping their New Year's intentions? Should we all put it on a postcard and tag it to the wall?
Yeah. And put three or five, don't overdo it. You'll just forget what they are and it won't happen. Focus on three to five real changes that you want to make, and they don't have to all be heavy, so it could be really cute and motivating. Little delightful things you'd like to do.