Green Clicks: Eco-Blogs Come of Age
O'Neill, Kathleen, E Magazine
Originally associated with disgruntled teens, blogs have grown into a legitimate form of online news and entertainment, covering an array of subjects from fashion and politics to the environment.
The growing popularity of the "eco-blog" has been attributed to the fashionably green website TreeHugger.com. Deemed the "god of environmental blogs," TreeHugger is currently the daily traffic leader. Founder Graham Hill has been featured in such magazines as Vanity Fair, Wired and Giant and was dubbed "The Modern Hippie" by Time Magazine.
"All the attention is sort of funny," says Hill. "I know a lot more than the average Joe about green design, but the real experts are the writers who contribute material." Hill may not take credit for the site's success, but he was its inspiration. "I looked at myself while creating TreeHugger, because I think I represent a lot of people out there," says Hill. "We live very busy lives and we do care about a lot of issues, but if it's going to take us six hours to make an impact, we're probably not going to do it." Hence TreeHugger's user-friendly format. Almost everything you need to know about the environment can be found somewhere on the site in an easy-to-digest form.
An Environmental Bite
And TreeHugger is beginning to see competition. Idealbite.com sends a daily newsletter via e-mail to subscribers who want tips on how to be eco-friendly. With titles like, "More Hermes than hemp?" "Humane veal?" and "Is your shampoo making you fat?" Idealbite is aimed at a group that might be, as cofounder Jennifer Boulden puts it, a "lighter shade of green."
Created in June 2005 by Boulden and longtime friend Heather Stephenson, Ideal-bite has 65,000 subscribers and has been featured on Martha Stewart Living. "We noticed that a lot of environmental efforts failed because they were too extreme for most people," says Boulden. "We don't suggest any drastic changes, just simple ones that make an environmental impact over time."
Boulden and Stephenson also send out surveys to record the percentage of subscribers who actually use their eco-tips, so they can calculate the exact environmental impact of each tip. While it may be too self-consciously hip (and commercial) for some, the ad-supported IdealBite.com makes it easy for the eco-novice.
Environmental websites can be heavy on technical data, and focused on topics like peak oil and wastewater cleanup, but many of today's blogs are confronting issues that resonate with a younger audience. "It's important to get people involved by making the content accessible to everyone, not just an educated few," says Starre Vartan, an E contributor who is also the founder of stylish blog Eco-Chick.com. Tired of searching the web for a green blog that was informative and cool, Vartan created her own site where no subject is off limits (one recent entry reviews an all-natural lubricant). "I think it's really great that environmental topics are seen as hip and that green is the new black," says Vartan. "This doesn't mean that every message will be perfect, but people can still learn how to make a difference. …