Grading the green mags

A look at which issues are green, and which are just greenwashed

By Editors

‘Tis the season for magazines to put out their green issues, and it seems like this April there are more green issues than ever before. After scanning the newsstand, we selected six publications that appeal to a range of people—music hounds, new moms, fashionistas, and more. Here’s our take on which issues are worth reading, and which greenwashed* mags are better off going directly into the recycling bin.

(*Each magazine received a “Greenwashing Grade”; the higher the grade, the better the eco coverage.)


Appeals to: Still-listening-to-CDs music fans who want to know what mainly established (read: old news) green musicians and major labels are up to.
Greenwashing Grade: C
Highs: Good across-the-board trade tips for rockers, promoters, and industry types trying to go green. There's advice on everything from merchandising (soy-ink posters and organic cotton tees) to instruments, with a frank look at setbacks, like how stickers are still being printed on PVC-paper because no alternatives are available. There's even advice for raising the money to go green: Auction off a set number of tickets like Bonnie Raitt, and set that money aside; or devote a portion of ticket sales to an “eco-fund."
Lows: We can't tell if the extensive coverage of the record labels is good or bad, considering how terribly most of them are doing in their efforts to go green. Yes, Universal has cradle-to-cradle desks and workstations, and Warner Music seems devoted to greener practices, but a description of EMI sums up the sluggish industry perfectly: "EMI recycles paper in 90% of its global offices, glass in 40% of its offices, metal in 47%, electronic equipment in 77%, and toner cartridges in 90%.” Golly. Also, though Billboard should be commended for devoting so much attention to biodiesel and the debate over biofuels, it fails to offer answers or a clear point of view on the issue. Finally, why all the talk about a jewel case-free world when unrecyclable and antiquated CDs are the real problem?!
Must read: Loved the cover story on former System of a Down rocker Serj Tankian, who raises real issues in a frank way and is cool precisely because we don't have the foggiest idea who he actually is. He does own a house in New Zealand—not eco for a US-based musician—but he totally redeems himself with the idea of holographic touring!

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Thank you for this great report card on just a few magazines. I absolutely do not understand why the publishers of so many mainstream magazines still continue to publish these "green Issues" without following through on their own end. No recycled paper content, no urging the publication readers to recycle the magazine, no non-toxic soy inks. Nothing but journalistic green-washing, which basically is reporting on "green issues" and contributing to the problem of waste and environmental damage at the same time. Sorry to sound so angry, but I get tired of seeing these "Green Issues" every March and April on the newsstands when I know it's just a cynical ploy at getting $$ from readers, advertisers and greenwashing companies. It's time for these folks to practice what they preach before they become extinct.

The best resource for publishers who are serious about greening their publication is

I want to put in a plug for Good magazine. While I understand you were going for more mainstream pubs, Good manages to appeal to a wide range of people yet stayed focused and be very authentic when it comes to social and environmental issues. It's entertaining, smart and one of the more innovatively designed magazines out there.

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