I was raised in a family with strong connections to nature. My grandparents weren’t farmers, but their parents were, and they felt a tie with the land around them that they passed on to my parents and me.
My dad’s childhood photo album is filled with black-and-white vacation photos of the whole family, in early '60s clothes, at national parks around the U.S. The parks captured my uncle’s imagination: Now he works for the National Park Service. My artsy aunt would bring organic snack foods to family holidays and insist on making homemade ice cream. My parents, sister and I hiked, camped and fished, and we made an annual trip to De Soto National Wildlife Refuge near Omaha to watch the migrating snow geese, mallard ducks and bald eagles.
My mom recycled just about every food leftover. My dad buried eggs shells in the garden. Today I guess you’d call it “green living.”
In 8th grade, I joined the Ecology Club with all my friends, mostly because if you joined you got to attend the year-end celebration sleepover at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo—totally worth collecting the school recycling once a month! I stayed in Ecology Club throughout high school. Eventually our classmates identified my friends and me as the “Tree Huggers.” We might have had to look it up in the dictionary, but we accepted the mantle. I still have a long-sleeved, dark green tee that says “Tree Hugger” on the front and “Ecology Club” on the back.
I’ve spent my entire adult life working in sustainable journalism. I’ve learned a lot about the scientific reasons for environmentalism. But nothing can teach me more about the true foundations of environmentalism than nature itself. Thanks to my nature-loving upbringing, environmentalism is a fundamental part of my identity. I think it’s a part of all of our identities. “Going green” isn’t something difficult or new. Living in concert with our natural surroundings is the way we humans evolved, and it’s the way it feels best for us to live now.
I hope our magazine helps you achieve a life that’s more delightful, more intuitive, and more in tune with nature. We think of Natural Home & Garden as an ongoing celebration of living with nature and learning how we can make a positive contribution in everything we do.
Our annual Guide to Living Well issue is on newsstands now. Our cover story, the guide to eating better on a budget, “Eat Well, Spend Less,” isn’t a guide to “green” eating; it’s just a guide to eating wisely. Our tour of homes made of unusual materials isn’t a green building guide; it’s a celebration of the creativity and innovation that benefits all of us—humans and our planet. Our 50 favorite products might not be what you need right now, but they meet a level of beauty, durability, quality and sustainability we’d like to see become standard in everything.