St. Louis publisher educates readers

Over the years, scores of print publications have either downsized or gone out of business, creating severe losses for publishers and reporters. J.B. Lester’s The Healthy Planet magazine, however, continues its reign as the only health and environmental magazine in the Greater St. Louis area. for 18 years.

In 1995, Lester left his post as co-editor and co-publisher at the Webster-Kirkwood Times with the goal of starting a new publication devoted to covering environmental and health issues. A couple years later, Lester managed to get The Healthy Planet off the ground thanks to financial help from a family member. But, as Lester recalls, the first year was a difficult one.

“Because the term ‘green’ was still unconventional at the time, it took us awhile to get our message across,” noted Lester. “But as area residents have continued to gain a greater understanding of what it means to ‘go green,’ we’ve seen the magazine’s success grow steadily over the years.”

Today, The Healthy Planet magazine is available at more than 800 locations in the Greater St. Louis area and its monthly readership has Healthy Planet Logo Newgrown to 90,000. With extensive coverage every month, The Healthy Planet includes sections like “Green & Growing,” “Kids’ Planet” and “Fresh Fare” to educate readers about organic and sustainable gardens, children’s activities that highlight green living and sustainable ways to eat healthy. Other special sections such as the Summer Camp Guide, the Holiday Green Shopping Guide and the Growers & Market Guide connect readers to resources that will help them to maintain a healthy and eco-friendly lifestyle.

“I think every major city needs a magazine like The Healthy Planet because we offer important resources for people who are interested in both improving the quality of their lives and prolonging the life of our planet,” Lester said. “We have made our mark on our community and plan to keep offering what our readers want.”

As a result of Lester’s life-long interest in green and healthy living, he and his wife Niki practice what they preach by incorporating eco-friendly alternatives into every possible aspect of their lives at home and at the office. His family recycles, uses only energy-saving light bulbs, carpools to work often and eats primarily grass-fed, free-range meat. To lessen his carbon footprint, Lester said he has been using an electric lawn mower, a natural gas grill and organic yard and garden practices for years.

Poor air quality is part of what inspires Lester to not only maintain, but also continuously improve his green lifestyle. Asthma and other respiratory illnesses have increased over the years and are directly linked to poor air quality, especially in St. Louis and the Mississippi Valley. And, asthma has played a direct role in spurring Lester’s green lifestyle, because one of his daughters suffers from sports-induced asthma. As a result, Lester said he would like to see more St. Louis area residents doing their part to improve the region’s air quality by using mass transit, bicycling, walking and driving more fuel-efficient, eco-friendly vehicles.

To help his readers easily incorporate long-term, eco-friendly practices into their daily lives, Lester stresses the importance of taking small steps. That’s why each issue of The Healthy Planet is focused on introducing environmentally friendly alternatives to readers, which Lester hopes will spur greener lifestyles overall. Easy steps he promotes include starting a home recycling program, changing out light bulbs and learning more about organic gardening.

“Everyone has a part in the problem, but we can all be a part of the solution,” Lester said. “Our publication offers great information on small steps that individuals can take right now to get the ball rolling.”

To learn more about going green and helping improve the region’s air quality, visit or call the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest at 314-449-9149. To learn more about The Healthy Planet, visit or call (314) 962-7748.