A few years ago, I was flying over the Susitna River near Talkeetna, Alaska, looking down on miles of wilderness, with only one road winding through the verdant landscape. It occurred to me that in all its empty, raw beauty, wilderness is the ultimate luxury. Jumping from Alaska's uninhabited wilds to the overcivilized luxury-goods business may seem like a stretch, but these days even denizens of the latter are talking about sustainability and how they can become more environmentally conscious. This special supplement to TIME is dedicated to the idea of green living in all aspects of design, including architecture, beauty products, furniture and fashion.
The issue's publication coincides with Earth Day celebrations, but the real inspiration for the theme came from jewelry designer John Hardy, who lives and works in a wholly sustainable home and factory in Bali. When I first met with him in New York City about a year ago, Hardy talked about the notion of sustainable luxury and the idea of constantly thinking about and creating environmentally friendly products and buildings. Initially, it seemed absurd to correlate luxury and sustainability, but there was something compelling about his passion for the concept. Here we take a closer look at the success of companies like natural grocer Whole Foods and ecotourism's rise at places like the Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa in Queensland, Australia. The success of eco-entrepreneurs like Graham Hill, creator of design blog treehugger.com is proof that green living is becoming an increasingly natural instinct.