Mother Earth Living

The Good Life

All things Mother Earth Living

Add to My MSN

The 70-20-10 Rule

4/26/2005 12:00:00 AM

Tags: global warming

Back in December, I did a spot for a bunch of local TV news programs on wrapping gifts using materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill: brown paper sacks, those plastic mesh bags that onions and lemons come in, even old sweaters (Natural Home, November/December 2004). I was happily regaling one anchorwoman with statistics about how much extra garbage we generate during the holidays when she said, “These are great ideas, even for those of us who don’t really care about the environment.”

I was stunned. It took me a moment to recover and mumble something inane like, “Well, yes, if you run out of wrapping paper on Christmas Eve, this would work, too….”

It was a very public moment of awakening for me. Because I live in Boulder, Colorado, land of the politically correct, and work at Natural Home & Garden, where everyone I come into contact with is passionate about saving the planet, I can easily forget that the environment isn’t necessarily a big issue with mainstream Americans. It’s taken me a good five years to really allow this to sink in; for so long I had clung to the belief that everyone should want to fight global warming, conserve natural resources, and just generally save the planet from human destruction. All too often, that should mentality lent a schoolmarmish rigidity to my “educating” about the whys and wherefores of living green. Bottom line: When we should be living a certain way, it’s not much fun.

I’m thinking about this a lot lately, especially as debate rages within the environmental community about whether we’re fatally out of touch with America (for a great recap, check out “We’ve Got Issues: What we talk about when we talk about the future of environmentalism” in Grist magazine. And all this thinking has led to a subtle shift in how I go about my job as NH&G editor-in-chief—I’ve stopped assuming that everyone’s reading us because they want to “do the right thing” for the planet and instead started courting readers who see the benefits of bringing beautiful, durable, nontoxic materials into their lives. (Ulterior motive: This is a much larger pool of people—it includes just about everyone. Kevin Salwen, founding editor of Worthwhile magazine, explained it to me as the 70-20-10 rule: 10 percent are just never going to buy into our message, 20 percent are already on board, and 70 percent are out there just waiting to be touched and inspired.)

I’ve come to see that preaching the gospel of the nurturing home accomplishes all my goals; clean air at home means clean air for everyone, and saving your own dollars by implementing energy efficient measures means less CO2 choking the planet. And honestly, it’s a lot more fun to help people create blissful, gorgeous living spaces than to play on their guilt about how their every move destroys the planet.

As ever, I go back to my mantra, a quote from the late Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, the founder of Naropa University here in Boulder. He says, “The only way to implement our vision for society is to bring it down to the situation of a single household.” These days, my vision is big, bold, and beautiful—and it just happens to also be green.

Related Content

How To: Save Your Seeds

Try saving seed from a few of your garden favorites this year. The number of seeds sold in the seed ...

What Does Your Clothing Tag Say?

With its new clothing tags, Levi’s encourages consumers to donate unwanted clothes to Goodwill.

A Ground Hog's Day Resolution?

I made a New Year’s resolution about being really regular with my blog entries.

5 Reasons Solar Energy Will Power the Future

With the advancements in the solar energy field within the past decade, the implementation of a rene...

Content Tools

Post a comment below.


Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.