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Caught by the Web.

Cyberspace Offers Faster Access to Greener Worlds

The Internet has quickly become an indispensible tool for the environmental movement, offering a cheap and effective way to exchange information and coordinate events among a wide audience. Now, some environmentalists are also seeing the Internet as a way to make money.

Portal sites are a starting point for exploring the World Wide Web. Basically search engines, they often come equipped with news, stock prices, chat and entertainment offerings to lure the electronic surfer. "Green" portals are similar, but also offer varying degrees of environmentally themed news, information, chat rooms and community features, along with products that promote a greener lifestyle.

The financial model is similar to that of television advertising. Users get to view the information on the site for free, and the expense is supposed to be covered by ads, which so far bring in more revenue than the sale of products. Some, like Environmental News Network, don't even have a store, offering only environmental news; revenue comes exclusively from advertising.

Though these sites are generally looking to turn a profit, many do make an effort to funnel your money towards the environment. A few, like and, actually give a portion of their revenue to selected environmental non-profits. By purchasing their products or even just by using their sites, you indirectly donate money to environmental causes. Other sites, like, sell only environmentally friendly products and give environmental non-profits discounts on advertising.

As of now, the reality is that very few of these new sites, if any, are actually profitable yet. Internet columnist John Motavalli thinks it's "unlikely that these portal sites will get the advertising money necessary to be profitable"--unless they get large corporations involved. And even that is no guarantee. One seemingly deep-pocketed site,, which had substantial financial backing from Ted Turner, just laid off its editorial and production staff and filed for bankruptcy.

The chance to take these startups public, a very real possibility until the recent NASDAQ market retreat, now appears to be receding, and with it the chance for a substantial infusion of working capital. But whether or not a stock option ever materializes, these portals still offer your hard-earned money the fast track to greener goods and services. Here's a quick overview of what's available in cyberspace.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Portals: Site by Site
COMPANY FINANCE NEWS Non-profit. Compiles news,
 doesn't write any.
 Breaking news
 section. For-profit. Produces own daily
 news; compiles
 world environmental
 news; posts press
 releases immediately. Ten percent of all Basic world news
 REVENUE goes compilation; some
 to environmental focus on environmental
 non-profits. stories. For-profit. Writes and compiles
 news; sorts by
 subjects; not very up
 to the minute. Facilitates secure Compiles news from
 online donations to a wide variety of
 over 100 environmental sources, including
 nonprofits. E Magazine. For-profit. World news from
(Folded in June) Associated Press, plus
 staff-written stories. All profits go No.
 to National
 Audubon Society.

COMPANY STORE PERKS No, but links to Chatroom, bulletin
 environmentally board, loads of
 friendly Green links. Sells only books Quizzes, chartroom,
 related to news. polls, forum, post
 cards. Sells broad range of Green calendar,
 items, not all green living tips,
 environmentally e-cards.
 friendly. Some. Extensive E-cards, job link,
 store is upcoming, trip planning,
 with information on calendar, ask an
 trips, gear, books, expert, impact
 etc. calculator. Sales of environmental Environmental job
 books via links, e-cards,
 affiliation, outdoor quizzes, questions.
 gear through Wide range of E-mail server,
(Folded in June) environment friendly how-to-tips, quiz,
 products for home. personal green
 ratings. Only nature Updated star maps,
 guides. e-cards, electronic
 wildlife guides.

COMPANY OVERALL Lots of information
 available; not as flashy
 or easy to use as others. CNN for environmentalists.
 Great for news, but not a
 true portal. Basic search engine with
 environmental twist; aimed
 at "light green" consumers. Under construction; well
 organized--may end up
 being most comprehensive. Great graphics; easy
 to use; lots of advertising.
 A true "portal." Broad based but lacked a
(Folded in June) real focus; was easy to use. Wildlife focus; great source
 for nature information.
 Not really a "portal" site.

DAVID ROTHENBERG is editor of Terra Nova; HILLARY YOUNG is an editorial intern at E.
COPYRIGHT 2000 Earth Action Network, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2000, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Ecology through the internet
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2000
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