New Bottom Line Volume 3.6 – Keeping up with the Joneses: Business and Environment Newsletters

April 5, 1994

The “environmental industry” is a rapidly evolving universe, and it’s a challenge for all but the most dedicated to keep up with the pace of innovation–new companies entering the marketplace; new product introductions, new production techniques, new marketing strategies.

A minor industry of publications, databases and information services has sprung up to help companies keep track of the thousands of environmental regulations that exist in one jurisdiction or another in the US. And a smaller, but equally interesting collection of publications has emerged to help business leaders keep up-to-date on the innovations in environmental quality, efficiency and strategy.

Many general interest environmental magazines, have made their way onto the newsstands: Garbage, E. Some have a distinctly business focus, and narrower readership: Environmental Today, In Business, Tomorrow, Total Quality Environmental Management. But there is a special role filled by the “trendwatch” newsletters–smaller circulation, far more expensive, but because of shorter lead times and shaper niche focus may be well worth the price for businesses (or policymakers) trying to keep pace.

This column reviews a few of my personal favorites. This list is neither complete nor definitive, of course, and should be supplemented by general business and trade press, trade association publications, and periodic scans of the landscape–libraries, databases, and regularly asking people “where do you find your best information?”.

Business and the Environment, 16 pages, monthly, $497/yr
(Cutter Information Corp, 37 Broadway, Arlington MA 02174, 1-617-641-5125)

BATE offers the most consistently international focus of the newsletters described here. Each issue includes a “focus report” highlighting an important international trend — recent topics have included Environmental Policy Roundup, Environmental Management Standards, and Industrial Ecology: Useful Framework or New Buzzword? — as well as briefer pieces under the department headings of Corporate Initiatives, Emerging Markets, and Regulatory and Policy Trends. Subscirption includes a substantial quarterly events calendar.

Environmental Business Journal, 16 pages, monthly, $395/yr
(Environmental Business International, 4452 Park Blvd, San Diego CA 92116, 1-619-295-7685)

EBJ’s unique strength is its regular economic analysis of the statre of the environmental industry, including detailed monthly stock market analysis of 14 sectors of the industry–ranging from solid waste management and asbestos abatement to environmental consulting and environmental energy sources–and discussions of revenue and profitability gains of selected companies. Feature articles present original research on business trends facing these sectors, as well as more general pieces on overall strategic issues.

Green Business Letter, 8 pages, monthly, $197/yr
(Tilden Press, 1526 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20006, 1-202-332-1700)

In addition to briefings that may highlight products, organizations, strategies or worthwhile books, GBL puts more emphasis on practical assistance. Each issue generally includes a four-page feature on practical application of an environmental innovation, with implementation suggestions, and resource directory– one recent example, “How CD-ROM is Slashing Paper Use–and Costs”–as well as a thoughtful essay from always perceptive publisher Joel Makower (author of The E Factor)

Green Market Alert, 12 pages, monthly, $395/yr [Sorry. No longer publishing.]
(The Bridge Group, 345 Wood Creek Road, Bethlehem, CT 06751, 1-203-266-7209)

As the name implies, GMA provides a strong green marketing focus, with a regular scan of product introductions, market research, new trade associations and the like. Several tables in each issue provide resource directories for topics ranging from a compendium of state recycling market development programs to the regular “environmental partnership bulletin board,” identifying marketing and sponsorship opportunities. An annual survey reports shifting consumer attitudes toward green products.

GMI Report: Japan, 8-12 pages, monthly
(Green Marketing Institute, 3 Fukuromachi, Shijuku-ku, Tokyo 162, 03-5228-3388)

This newsletter offers a unique insight into the substantial pace of environmental innovation in Japan, a country that has set its sights firmly on the world environmental market. While some of the information is specific to Japan, such as environment agency budget requests and consumer surveys, much is readily applicable anywhere, ranging from product news to municipal policy. This makes GMI Report: Japan a stimulating source of ideas even for companies that do not trade in the Japanese market.

Note: The prices of these newsletters are high, but some of these publications provide special (and sometimes unpublished) discount rates for small businesses and/or government. If they’re still beyond the reach of your company, encourage your local business library or economic development office to take a subscription as a shared resource for local small businesses.

(c) 1994 Gil Friend. All rights reserved.

New Bottom Line is published periodically by Natural Logic, offering decision support software and strategic consulting that help companies and communities prosper by embedding the laws of nature at the heart of enterprise.

Gil Friend, systems ecologist and business strategist, is President and CEO of Natural Logic, Inc.

May be posted intact–including this notice–in any non-commercial forum.
Please inquire at “reprint_rights at natlogic dot com” before reproduction in any commercial forum.