SEATTLE’S MOST INFLUENTIAL blogger just might be a tall, blonde mother of two named Deanna Duke, a hardcore sustainability advocate with a soft, entertaining online touch. Duke’s green-living site, thecrunchychicken.com (“Converting people to Crunchianity since 2007”), draws 50,000 hits a month and has been touted and quoted by The Economist, The New York Times (three times since last year), and, most recently, National Enquirer. All this while exploring such esoteric and hair-shirt-sounding topics as keeping backyard ducks, growing blackberries in pots, living refrigerator-free (an incipient trend Duke thinks is actually earth-unfriendly), and the environmental impact of depilating one’s nether regions (Brazilian wax vs. disposal razors vs. homemade sugar packs). She estimates that 90 percent of her readers are female.
The topic that’s brought the most notice is Crunchy Chicken’s annual “Freeze Yer Buns Off” challenge to turn thermostats way down. Duke herself wimps out at 65 degrees by day, 58 at night, but the fact that she’s no carbon-cutting superjock is one reason for her site’s broad appeal—along with her humor. She urged not just turning out the lights for Earth Hour 2010 but giving the light of your life a Carnal Hour to remember.
Not that Duke isn’t serious about her mission. Crunchy Chicken grew out of her day job as a master application developer in King County’s parks department, in particular her work promoting locally grown foods in the Puget Sound Fresh program. Environmentalism, she confesses online, is “an infectious disease,” and the only cure is “to educate, educate, educate.”
Still, Duke muses, “everyone tells me I’m sitting on a goldmine.” Imagine all the green and greenwash advertisers who’d love to reach her audience. She doesn’t rule out taking ads someday, but only for “things I really believe in.”