Happy Birthday, TreeHugger is Ten!

happy birthday
Screen capture Wayback machine image of TreeHugger in August, 2004

We don't know exactly what day it was; the TreeHugger team had been working for months, with Kobi Benezri designing the site, Nick Aster building it, Graham Hill hiring writers and Olga Sasplugas doing just about everything else. The switch was flipped some time in August; the earliest catch on the Wayback Machine is August 27 but there are lots of earlier posts in August. So we are going to be sure to hit it by celebrating the whole month. The original header said it all:

Treehugger is the definitive, modern yet green lifestyle filter. It will help you improve your course, yet still maintain your aesthetic.

In the About page of the time, Graham went into greater detail:

We believe that to help move the mass market towards sustainability, momentum needs to be gathered around products that are significantly better than their counterparts yet are not all perfectly sustainable. TreeHugger will do it’s best to highlight close to perfect products that also have a modern aesthetic but in order to round out our offerings, we will also highlight products that are better than most, but still have a way to go.

Graham's original pitch posters are fascinating to look at ten years later; TreeHugger started with products, with stuff, but it was really about the lifestyle and it is still one we promote, and while Graham missed the bike movement, he got most everything else right.

Over the years the titles got more descriptive and catchy (my favorite is still one I wrote about wave power in 2005: Bouncing Buoy from Oregon State Generates Shocker) the posts got longer, we covered more environmental news, we moved away from a product focus to lifestyle. We got a great CEO in Ken Rother and grew to a stable of almost fifty full and part time writers. We tried to still be cheeky (on August 1, 2007 Graham wrote TreeHugger Acquires Discovery Communications)

The Discovery years were exciting, as we were part of their launch of the Planet Green network and we produced the Planet Green website. Alas, the world wasn't ready for a green TV network, and on November 12, 2012 TreeHugger found a new home as part of the Mother Nature Network. It was a short term shock of a transition involving significant downsizing, but it brought financial sustainability and it's a great fit.

There are serious environmental issues facing everyone on this planet, from climate change to water to food to population. They affect everything we write and everything we do. We do not ignore them. However, in the decade since TreeHugger was founded, a thousand specialist websites have bloomed that cover these issues in great detail. We remain, as Graham originally envisioned,

A green lifestyle website dedicated to driving sustainability mainstream.

I think we have succeeded. There is a new vision of sustainability taking hold, particularly among young people; It is more urban; as author Taras Grescoe put it, it is a mix of 19th century transportation (bikes, walking, trams) and 21st century communication (smart phones, twitter). It has evolved over the years, but we remain committed to the original mission statement of ten years ago:

Partial to a modern aesthetic, we strive to be a one-stop shop for green news, solutions, and product information.

It's been ten years, we don't use the word green as much, but I think we have held true to that vision. Thank you, Graham.

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