The Axis of Eco

Earth-friendly cool is everywhere, from Hollywood and innovative building design to hybrid cars and candy bars. You live, breathe, and play green already—so why not come full circle by bringing it all back home?

Apr 1, 2005
Outside Magazine
Eco-friendly Living

   Photo: Joseph Rafferty

In the old days, trying to live with an environmental conscience could be tricky, if not downright unpleasant—filled with hard-to-find organic bulgur salads, tiresome carpools, and scratchy hemp ponchos. But there's good news for greenies everywhere: You no longer have to live like John the Baptist to contribute to a healthier planet. Being kind to the earth has never been more hip, luxe, delicious, and deprivation-free. Simply put, a growing commitment to do no harm is transforming culture and commerce, making it possible to play hard and live well while living responsibly.

"It's a lot easier being green now than it was ten years ago," says David Gottfried, author of Greed to Green—a 2004 memoir about his transformation from grasping real estate developer to green do-gooder—and founder of the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit that certifies and promotes eco-friendly design. Today, green cred is a status symbol being sought by builders worldwide, including architects of such landmarks as the Freedom Tower, at the World Trade Center site, where wind turbines will help power the building. In fact, green is so red-hot that corporate America is getting the picture, creating nontoxic, recycled, and energy-efficient products, from skateboards to motherboards. "Being green spurs corporate innovation," says Michael Porter, the pioneering professor who heads Harvard University's Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness.

The result? Today you can choose green when you ski, drive, buy a dishwasher, or drink a beer. You can savor transcendent, sustainably produced chocolate, swig organic coffee, and heft a solar-paneled backpack on your way to hanging ten on a green surfboard (but first use natural sunscreen). The fashionista in you can enjoy eco-jeans or plush socks made from recycled polyester. And in 34 states, select utility companies will let you check a box on your electric bill and buy renewable energy, like wind power.

"When we look at nature, we do not see a glass half empty," says renowned architect William McDonough, a guru of the green-design movement, whose buildings are famed for their "ecological intelligence." "We don't even see a glass half full," says McDonough. "We see a world postively brimming with abundance."

Take off that hair shirt, read our 13 hot trends—and let your glass runneth over.

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web

Not Now

Open a World of Adventure

Our Dispatch email delivers the stories you can’t afford to miss.

Thank you!