The Plenty 20

By Anuj Desai, Dan Fost, Liz Galst, Tobin Hack, Jessica A Knoblauch, Alisa Opar, Sarah Parsons, Mindy Pennybacker, Victoria Schlesinger, and Jessica Tzerman

The Plenty 20 logo designed by Hinterland

There are game-changers and then there are world-changers. From Internet giants working to make renewable energy cheaper than coal, to a sea captain monitoring the ocean’s plastic waste, to the growth of intentional communities (they’re not just for hippies anymore)—welcome to Plenty’s second annual list honoring (in no particular order) 20 dynamic individuals and 20 pioneering companies that are bettering the planet, plus 10 innovative ideas that will revolutionize how we live. 

Al Gore
Andrew Revkin
Charles Moore
David de Rothschild
Fred Krupp
Frederick Kirschenmann
Heidi Cullen
James Hansen
Joe Lovett
Kathleen Sebelius
Kevin Wall
Lester Brown
Maude Barlow
Michael Pollan
Mindy Lubber
Nicholas Negroponte
Peter Diamandis
Van Jones
Vinod Khosla
William McDonough & Michael Braungart

A123 System
Applied Materials
Bon Appétit Management Company
Environmental Working Group
Forest Stewardship Council
Home Depot
Innovest Strategic Value Advisors
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
Pizza Fusion
Swiss Re
TransFair USA

Carbon Labels
Closing the Loop
Economic Energy Efficiency
Green Affordable Housing
Green-Collar Jobs
Green Media
Intentional Communities
Living Catalogs
Nature Education
Skyscraper Farms


Maude Barlow
It’s been said we’ll launch 21st-century wars over water, not oil, but Canadian activist Barlow has been leading the battle for water justice for decades. She made international waves with her 2007 book, Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water; and her global initiative, Blue Planet Project, helped successfully lobby for groundwater protection in Vermont and is driving the push for a UN covenant declaring clean water a personal right.

Michael Pollan

An advocate for sustainability, heirloom species, and local food, Pollan turns a critical eye on both green (for example, industrial organic) and mainstream businesses. His charming humor and self-deprecation inspire readers to follow suit in planting gardens and asking farmers about their methods and produce managers about their sourcing. Pollan’s 2006 book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and his latest call for food-system reform, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Mani­festo, made bestseller lists.

David de Rothschild
If you combined Indiana Jones with Al Gore, you’d get 30-year-old David de Rothschild—a modern-day explorer hell-bent on saving the planet. He runs Adventure Ecology, an organization that spotlights global environmental crises through high-profile expeditions, like his fastest-ever crossing of the Greenland ice cap in 2005. De Rothschild also manages a self-sustaining organic farm and was named a Young Global Leader at the 2007 World Economic Forum. His list of feats is already legendary—including being the youngest Brit ever to reach both poles—but it’s his commitment to the planet that’s truly superlative. 

Al Gore
With a groundbreaking documentary, an Oscar, and a Nobel Peace Prize under his belt, Al Gore took a new approach to raising environmental awareness in 2007: advertising. His nonprofit Alliance for Climate Protection’s $300 million “We” campaign runs ads on American Idol, The Daily Show, and other programs, aiming to build support for fighting cli­mate change. Already, more than 1.4 million people have joined the campaign, demonstrating that Gore is on the cutting edge of environmentalism.

Nicholas Negroponte 
Author, entrepreneur, and MIT scholar Negroponte has helped spur innovation in technology and information science for the last four decades. The One Laptop Per Child Foundation is his latest triumph. Since mass production of the $188 computers began in November 2007, more than 600,000 children in schools from Uruguay to Rwanda have received OLPC’s solar- and human-powered XO laptops. The success of these super-cheap, super-efficient machines has inspired widespread innovation among computer makers.  

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Issue 25

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