Practical Visionaries Solving Today's Environmental Problems

By Steve Lerner





The idea for Eco-Pioneers came to Steve Lerner while he was attending the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Although he was moved by the vision of sustainable development evoked by citizens and officials at the summit, as a reporter he felt a need to put a human face on the rhetoric and find out what sustainable development actually looks like in the United States. He spent the next four years searching out what he came to call "eco-pioneers"—the modern pathfinders who are working in the American pragmatic tradition to reduce the pace of environmental degradation. These practical visionaries are people who are willing to push the limits of whatever tools they can find for dealing with ecological problems. Lerner provides case studies of eco-pioneers who are exploring sustainable ways to log forests, grow food, save plant species, run cattle, build houses, clean up cities, redesign rural communities, generate power, conserve water, protect rivers and wildlife, treat hazardous waste, reuse materials, and reduce both waste and consumption. Some of those profiled run businesses, some address environmental practices within their immediate community, and some combine their environmental concerns with social goals such as the creation of inner-city jobs. Together they are creating ways of living and working that many analysts believe to be essential to an ecologically sustainable future.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262122078 476 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$40.00 X ISBN: 9780262621243 476 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


  • One of the challenges in building a sustainable global economy is to find out what works and then let people know about it. That's what this book does.

    Lester R. Brown

    President, Worldwatch Institute

  • Who says sustainable development is just an attractive theory? In a series of fascinating profiles of 25 eco-pioneers, Steve Lerner highlights a range of economically attractive alternatives to the unsustainable practices that are undermining the prospects for our common future. A real page-turner.

    Jim MacNeill

    Chairman of the Board, IISD

  • Lerner's eco-pioneers are ideal ambassadors for sustainable development. Through technology, economy, and environmental innovation, they are improving their lives and the lives of their communities. They are a shining example of leadership and living proof that sustainable development will continue to take root across the U.S. and around the world.

    Timothy E. Wirth

    Under Secretary for Global Affairs

  • If you want to know who's doing the most creative hands-on work on sustainability, read Steve Lerner's Eco-Pioneers and get set to be inspired. Twenty-five action-oriented case studies show how progress can be made toward sustainable living—from how we do farming, forestry, and architecture to how we revitalize polluted and decaying urban areas.

    Brent Blackwelder

    President, Friends of the Earth

  • Eco-Pioneers is truely a book for out times. Steve Lerner approaches the issue of sustainability thoughtfully and comprehensively. By way of eminently readable stories, he gives examples of people putting the concept of sustainable living into practice. I not only enjoyed reading it, I learned something about the practical implementation of environmental principles.

    John H. Adams

    Executive Director, Natural Resources Defense Council; Member, President's Council of Sustainable Development

  • A compilation of some of the most imaginative ideas for addressing today's environmental problems. Steve Lerner has managed to harness some of the best minds working at the ground level to conceptualize ingenious and resourceful solutions for dealing with the urgent problems facing the environment today. Ideas like these will shape the future of our environment.

    Fred Krupp

    Executive Director, Environmental Defense Fund

  • This engaging, unpretentious book suggests active, do-it-yourself environmentalism is alive and well in grassroots America.

    Frederic Golden

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • For sustainability to move from theory to practice, it requires the dedication and creativity Steve Lerner discovered in his 10,000 mile odyssey. Like the road to sustainability itself, Steve's journey circles back to show that American virtures such as gumption, ingenuity and unyielding persistance can once again revolutionize the world.

    Paul Hawken

    author of The Ecology of Commerce