Elle: A Lovely Shade Of Green

Understandably, TreeHugger gave lots of props to Vanity Fair (despite their paper snafu) - because, like - how cool was it to see a glossy photo of our very own Graham Hill? But as a fashion magazine fan and an environmental writer, I have to hand it to Elle for a very nicely done May "green" issue. Despite Ms. Myers' concern that "[an entirely eco-friendly issue] would actually bore our readers to death," editors (including guest Laurie David) did a beautiful job of weaving environmental themes into nearly every department. Sometimes it was subtle (recounting how cover girl Evangeline Lilly brought recycling to the set of Lost), and sometimes it was direct (The Green Guide's Mindy Pennebacker gives her friend a lesson in eco-house keeping). But my favorite article fell somewhere in the middle...In "Love Hurts" writer Christine Lennon describes how she - a self-described fashionista - fell for her husband, an "eco-guy." It isn't so much their love story or the tale of her transformation from an NYCity girl to that of a west-coast living (semi)outdoorsy type that drew me in; it was the way that she described ecological issues in the parlance of 'life as usual' for her partner. No slinging of stereotypes or glib references to idealistic foolishness, just a well-informed description of the choices that "eco-guy" makes and why he makes them (like avoiding endangered Patagonian Toothfish, a.k.a. "Chilean Sea Bass"; or using nontoxic cleaning products). But even with all this eco-talk, the thrust of her story is about relationships and the way they help us grow; eco-sensitivity is the backdrop, not the plot.

This, I believe, is the key to getting the message across to the pubic at large. Currently, there is an artificial (though often necessary) dictum that any communication mentioning environmental isses must by definition be about environmental issues. Rarely will you read an article like "Love Hurts" where issues like endangered species or climate change are key details, yet do not determine the entire scope of the story.

Once the media regularly incorporate eco-living into "everyday" stories and images consumed by the broad public, we'll know that we've tipped the point toward sustainability.

TreeHugger takes the inverse approach. By incorporating "real life" into environmental topics and by making sustainability more palatable to the not-so-eco-inclined; we are accelerating the integration of environmental awareness into the mainstream (at least we are giving it our damned best!) Piece by piece, TreeHugger writers and readers are bringing down the wall between environmental awareness and "everything else."

Anyway - back to Elle! It has lots of fun articles, a great "nature girl" photo shoot, and unlike VF, the publisher managed to negotiate the apparently mind-boggling world of printing on recycled paper.