Today it’s virtually impossible to turn on the TV, go on the Internet, or open a newspaper or magazine without being bombarded with tips on living the “green” lifestyle. From the moment you wake up and sip your organic coffee till it’s time to go to sleep on a bed made from sustainably grown wood (after brushing your teeth with organic toothpaste), you can follow the straight and narrow path toward saving the earth. This trend may have reached its apotheosis when The New York Times recently ran a story on the virtues of cocktails made from organic fruit, under the headline “Alcohol Goes on a Health Kick.”
The healthy dose of advice Audubon has offered over the years has reflected our distinct mission. We published one of the first sustainable-seafood guides and gave you an early look at organic coffee by featuring a coffee farm in Mexico that was also a haven for birds. Our Audubon Living department has showed you how to make your backyard bird-friendly, too, by planting native flowers and ditching herbicides and pesticides. Even a seemingly hopeless situation, such as the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, prompted a story about restoring bird habitat through a partnership between Audubon Mississippi and the Arbor Day Foundation. The joint effort, called Operation Backyard Recovery, has planted or given out 65,000 native trees in coastal Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana with the help of more than 100 volunteers.
In our newest department, Green Guru, we invite you to send “eco-minded” questions to Starre Vartan, founder of a popular blog called Eco Chick. In this issue Vartan tells how leaving fallen leaves on the ground will nourish your soil, and offers advice about attracting butterflies to your garden. Rachel Dickinson’s haunting story on efforts to prevent the extinction of the Bermuda petrel, one of the world’s rarest seabirds, is accompanied by one of Audubon’s signature “What You Can Do” boxes. This one focuses on actions you can take for the sake of all seabirds, such as cutting up monofilament fishing line, which can entangle them.
Ted Williams, Audubon’s fire-breathing Incite columnist for 19 years, knows as well as anyone that individual action, though often a good first step, is no substitute for political progress, particularly when confronting an issue as complex as global warming. “Voters must see to it that Congress enacts mandatory and draconian caps on carbon emissions,” he concludes. “Don’t let carbon polluters and their apologists convince you that voluntary measures by themselves are going to make a difference.”—David Seideman