When you put on a stylish jacket made of rayon, vegan leather, or even recycled plastic, are you sure you’re helping the planet more than if you had bought one made of animal leather? In this journey down a very twisted rabbit hole, sustainable fashion expert Alden Wicker, founder and editor-in-chief of EcoCult, finds answers that may not be particularly comfortable for the animal rights movement.
By ALDEN WICKER
Every few years, some new razor system hits the market pledging to save your face and your pocketbook. Virtually all of them miss the boat, because the golden age of shaving occurred 50 years ago. The good news is that all that vintage gear is still available, and a few entrepreneurs are now making beautiful modern versions. A visit with the American craftsmen who are making what might be the best of those razors.
Story and Photography by TODD OPPENHEIMER
For generations, the Isbell family of Arkansas has been tinkering with innovations in rice farming. They were the first American farmers to grow elite varieties for sushi and sake, and have also pioneered rice cultivation methods that can conserve water and slow climate change.
Story by DAVID RAMSEY
Photography by KAT WILSON
In a small, indigenous Mexican community in the mountains of Michoacán, a band of determined women led the overthrow of a criminal cartel. Their victory gave the town a new sense of purpose by reviving its traditional livelihood, its capacity for self-government, and its communal spirit.
Story and photography by ANDREW SULLIVAN
Every few years, discussions about using straw as a building material, in bale form, come up again. Now, as our environmental challenges mount—from wildfires to hurricanes—straw bales seem to offer an answer to a good many of them. As we step into October, and the one-year anniversary of Northern California’s first wave of historic fires, it’s time to ask: Has the straw bale’s time finally come?
By MEA MCNEIL
While the fashion industry continues to produce more and more clothing made from synthetics, with all their harmful effects, we’ve ignored the wonders of wool. The material is natural, durable, and endlessly renewable; more important, its creators (the sheep) can help regenerate the world’s drying, fire-prone landscapes. Fortunately, a wool revival seems to be underway.
By JUDITH D. SCHWARTZ
While annual wildfires and other “natural” disasters mount in Australia, California, and elsewhere, a growing number of researchers and pastoralists around the globe have found remarkable, untapped opportunities to limit these troubles. It turns out that animals, plants, soil, and air have long collaborated to regulate our climate through their water use—until we disrupted their partnership. An environmental author finds a pathway to reconciliation.
By JUDITH D. SCHWARTZ
You have probably never heard of the term “acequia,” but it describes one of oldest, most common-sense systems of irrigation on the planet. The basic idea is to use, and share, a river’s natural patterns instead of the predominant American system—namely, trap it, pipe it, and race to be the first to use it. Our writer tours the globe to track down its history, and its leading practitioners.
Story and photography by ROBERTO LOVATO
The blind spots in the American West’s water systems are in full display in Ventura County, a coastal region of southern California that happens to hold the most lucrative farmland in the state. Equally abundant, and somewhat in progress, are opportunities for enlightenment. Which path will prevail?
By CRAWFORD COATES