It's been four years since Plenty launched. The magazine has come a long way from the somewhat technically written tome with the appearance of a dull airline catalog, as it was described in an earlier review.

It's no surprise, given how far we have also come, both as consumers and world citizens. Green is the new black, after all. Kermit might still croak "it's not easy being green" but it sure is trendy.

The issues that likely prompted the magazine's start -- fuel prices, recycling, organic food -- are on the radar screens of even more readers today. Plenty does a good job of addressing how environmental policies and technology affect our everyday lives. It has evolved into a colorful, cleverly written and illustrated, yet still intelligent read.

The October/November issue teases with a photo of Al Gore, who was selected as one of the Plenty 20: "The dynamic individuals, companies, and ideas that are changing the world." Unfortunately, Gore only gets three sentences of copy in the feature, as do all of the other winners. It's OK. You probably already know that Gore has done a lot for environmental concerns. (Go out and rent "An Inconvenient Truth" right this minute if you haven't already seen it.)

The rest of the article includes blurbs about the other winners. The list of businesses was especially interesting since I'm always looking for socially responsible companies to do business with. I knew about Home Depot's Eco Options green labeling project, but was surprised to learn Nike is striving to reduce toxins and work with environmentally friendly materials.

My favorite article in the issue was one I initially avoided because I thought its topic -- hunting -- would upset me, but instead I ended up enlightened. The author, Steven Rinella, makes the case for when, how and why to hunt. Even though I know that I will never pull a Sarah Palin and hunt wolves from helicopters, it's obvious that Rinella is not cut from the same cloth as Palin and has a much different attitude toward hunting. His essay explores the reasons people hunt and the difference between ethical and unethical hunters. He also shows how hunting can result in an incentive to promote the sustainable conservation of our remaining wild places and wild animals.

It's not all heavy essays. The magazine includes a lot of news you can use, including a two-page piece from the Plenty labs in which eight so-called organic or natural shampoo products were tested. It's nice they include the prices. As good as the Intelligent Nutrients Hair Cleanser sounded, I don't think I'll be able to afford $39 shampoo (for 6.7 oz.!) in this lifetime. Good old Avalon is fine with me. (They didn't test the Trader Joe's store brand shampoo -- and they really should, because the Tea Tree formula is amazing, but I digress.)

Articles about raw-milk cheese, organic cocktails and "eco-star" Matthew McConaughey were also fun reads. Plenty manages to make even the scientific whimsical, like an article about the quest to find a bovine Beano (although learning that a typical cow belches or farts hundreds of liters of methane each day just cements my commitment to not eating beef. Ick.)

Plenty doesn't take itself too seriously. It's educational without being preachy. Another example of its offbeat approach: an essay from Lizz Winstead, whose "environmental world was rocked" recently when she found out a friend had purchased a solar-powered vibrator. You'll have to invest $4.95 for the issue or try to find it online, because I'm not saying anything more on the subject.

An essay on the last page about an environmentally/socially responsible women's conflicted feelings about finding herself pregnant was nicely written and a good indicator of how far the magazine has evolved. It's a reminder that while we all have good intentions, sometimes life gets in the way. All you can do is keep trying, and keep reading, and hope that others are doing the same.


Frequency: Bimonthly

Published by: Environ Press, Inc.

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