Rise of the Eco Barons


There’s a lot of dire green news out there. Species dying. Glaciers shrinking. Fish better off snorkeling than breathing their own water.

So, when a book comes along that paints a sunrise on the smog-choked horizon, it merits a look.  Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Humes brings us Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers, and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet. In a nod to the Rockefeller and Carnegie-type Robber Barons who drove the Industrial Revolution, “eco barons” refers to the band of visionaries who are using their wealth, energy and celebrity to push the world in a green direction.

There’s Douglas Tompkins, the former founder and CEO of the Esprit fashion empire who uses his fortune to preserve Patagonian rainforest. There’s Roxanne Quimby, the founder of Burt’s Bees, who sold her stake on her multi-million dollar cosmetics empire to save the great Maine Woods. But not all the eco barons are wealthy emperor-types. There’s Terry Tamminen, a former pool boy who is now the head of the California EPA and Carole Allen, a single mother, who has marshaled an army of schoolchildren to save endangered turtles from extinction by fishing fleets.

Through inspiring stories of individuals making a difference, Humes presents a timely and hopeful book. Worth a read.

Katherine Butler

Katherine Butler is the Beauty Editor of EcoSalon and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.