Go green one bite at a time
Well. This was awkward. Just days after I ranted here over Seattle's preoccupation with saving the Earth, I was summoned to an audience...
Seattle Times staff columnist
Well. This was awkward.
Just days after I ranted here over Seattle's preoccupation with saving the Earth, I was summoned to an audience with the Queens of Green: Heather Stephenson and Jennifer Boulden, co-founders of Ideal Bite.
The Web site sends its subscribers daily tips about how to live an organic, earth-friendly lifestyle, whether it be a new dishwashing detergent, a changed light bulb, a way to garden or a way to shop.
"We started this because the environmental message was always all this finger-wagging," Boulden said the other day over lunch (green salads, natch).
We're getting plenty of that from Seattle City Hall. This summer alone, the city has approved a 20-cent fee on paper and plastic bags, formed a committee to get reusable grocery bags into the hands of the poor, tested putting cops on scooters and closed three city streets to cars on three Sundays.
It's green. It's great.
But it's enough already.
And I'm not the only one feeling some kind of organic overkill. Last week, a coalition of plastic and grocery industries submitted 22,252 signatures to the city, seeking to allow voters to decide whether they favor the bag fee.
The coalition — primarily funded by the American Chemistry Council — argues that the fee asks too much of voters during tough economic times. The group favors voluntary, educational efforts to reduce bag use.
For the record, I think the fee is fine. But I get where they're coming from.
And so do Stephenson and Boulden.
"There's a lot of green fatigue," Stephenson said. "People are tired of it."
Perhaps that's why Ideal Bite, with its little nips of daily tips, seems to be doing so well.
Growth on the site (www.idealbite.com) averages 12 percent a month nationally. In Seattle, growth has been 8 percent a month.
So it's no wonder that Ideal Bite has chosen Seattle to be one of the next cities to receive Local Bites — tips on green things and events in specific neighborhoods.
(New York and San Francisco have been receiving Local Bites since last fall.)
So if the daily Ideal Bite tells you where to buy organic coffee, the Local Bite will tell you where in Seattle and why. All tips are tested by an army of freelancers, who research and reject at will.
"It adds a layer of personality to the tips," Stephenson said.
And if it starts to add a layer of guilt, she said, it may be best to focus on the Big Picture and what every little bite can do.
Ideal Bite encouraged 13,000 subscribers — or "Biters" — to take themselves off mailing lists. In doing so, they prevented an estimated 388,000 pounds of junk mail from going into landfills, and saving 3,300 trees. And at least 9,400 Biters purchased their weekly fruit from a local farmers market rather than a grocery store, the equivalent of taking 15 cars off the road for an entire year.
"We're not trying to tell you not to do something," Stephenson said. "But if you're going to do something, here's the best way. It just sounds less like the sky is falling."
Hear that, Mayor Little?
Nicole Brodeur's column appears Tuesday and Friday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or email@example.com. She composts. And kills fruit flies.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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