National Geographic Green Guide

Suddenly, green is in. It's so politically correct that even if you don't care about global warming, you have to pretend. That's why some companies engage in "greenwashing," feigning eco, when they mean Gekko, as in Gordon. More depressing, a newly released study commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association revealed an undisclosed carcinogen in leading shampoos, body washes and other personal care and household products claiming to be "natural" or "organic." My body wash is aquamarine Day-Glo, a color not found in nature. I have no illusions that it's healthy; but it does have a lovely scent. It's what fresh smells like when it's made in the lab. If I want organic, I'll drink quality vodka, produced from a mash of rye, corn or potatoes.

Don't misunderstand: I support the eco movement. I buy organic vegetables, on occasion, though the prices give gonifs a bad name. And I bought the funky looking eco-bulbs because the box said they last seven years longer than incandescent. Here's the down side: I can only read during daylight hours. I don't mind the yellow haze; I do mind the perpetual squint. Still, if 25% of U.S. houses replaced one incandescent with a CFL (compact fluorescent light bulbs), it would save as much carbon as planting nearly 258,000 acres of forest.

Clearly, everyone should learn to consume wisely. And since most Americans don't know how, trust the people who do: National Geographic Green Guide. The premiere issue, which hit newsstands March 4, supplies resources for green living and pairs green coverage with product and behavior tips. For sports fans, there's Fair Trade Sports, a U.S. supplier that guarantees a fair wage, prohibits child labor and promises a football's inner lining comes from responsibly harvested rubber trees. Pakistan, widely believed to be the most dangerous country in the world, also makes 70% of the world's sports balls. Who knew? I mean beside the new pub and Alex Trebek.

In addition, your new eco best friend can tell you how to green your car -- even if you can't afford a Prius. Or which plastic items are safe to reuse. To help, it supplies a wallet-sized Green Guide Smart Shopper's Card that deciphers the code stamped onto containers. Here's a simple but effective idea: Cut off the bottom of an empty cereal box and use it to store your magazines.

GG's goal is to inspire and inform, like political candidates once they leave office. Think Al Gore. I learned so much from him after the Supreme Court decided vote counting was more show than tell. And John Adams is no slouch in the inspiration department, either. That's thanks to the new HBO show on our second prez. You should hear the delegates at the Continental Congress debate independence. They quote the Greeks! They write their own speeches! They care! Not about lobbyists, swag or cushy retirement, but us! And Adams, unlike our current Denier in Chief, listens to his wife, whose political acumen and moral insights are a wonder to behold.

In fact, something tells me that both Gore and Adams would embrace GG, since liberty means freedom from tyranny. And in my book, that means freedom from oil potentates and Con Edison. Neither supports the democratic principles so important to the Founding Fs.

Happily, GG does -- and it combines a user-friendly approach with clean graphics. It runs the kind of articles you actually read, then slap on your fridge. So before burlap becomes the new look for Fashion Week -- and no one can carry brown -- let's all do our part.


Frequency: Quarterly
Published by: National Geographic Society
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