Activist brings the green to a material world

Patrick Stack

Martha Stewart helped Danny Seo become an environmental activist.

After watching an episode of “Martha Stewart Living” with a high school friend, Seo was inspired to learn how a professional homemaker became a huge success. Before long he had adopted a new philosophy from Stewart’s ability to cut through criticism and succeed.

“What I was able to learn from Martha Stewart was to believe in myself no matter what,” he said. “It sounds like the lamest rule in the world, but it works.”

Seo, 22, founded the teenage environmental group Earth 2000 at age 12 and is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Conscious Style, an “eco-friendly” clothing and furnishing company. He spoke to about 40 people Wednesday night at Northwestern as part of Earth Week 2000, sponsored by Students for Environmental and Ecological Development.

Seo, one of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People, was born on Earth Day. He said he was inspired to start Earth 2000 after reading about environmental issues on his 12th birthday. The teenage environmental group quickly became popular across the nation, and Seo became a celebrity.

Seo, an animal rights supporter, said one National Enquirer article gave him a biblical reputation for animal kindness.

“I looked in the Enquirer and it said ‘Second Coming of Noah,'” he said. “People were sending me Bibles to sign and bless in the mail.”

Despite Earth 2000’s young membership, Seo said it was highly effective in accomplishing its environmental goals.

“Developers would say, ‘Aw, isn’t that cute,’ and we’d say, ‘Yeah, we’re filing a court injunction against you,'” Seo said.

After appearing on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” several times, Seo left Earth 2000 at 18. He continued his environmental and community activism and is currently working on Conscious Styles, a company that sells premium-label “eco-friendly” clothing and furnishings. The company capitalizes on the American desire for brand names while helping the environment, Seo said.

“Conscious Styles is about marrying the need for having beautiful and aesthetically pleasing styles for the home with eco-friendly causes,” he said.

Lilian Beck, a Speech sophomore, said she liked Seo’s environmentally beneficial use of materialism.

“I always think of materialism as negative and a part of the culture, and I think it’s good to use something that’s embedded in our culture for a positive thing,” she said.

Seo told students that becoming an activist for a cause can make people realize the value in giving to others.

“Most importantly, it helps you become a better person,” he said. “It worked for me and I know it can work for you.”