Green mags add colour to ethics

The consumer trend for ‘going green’ has given rise to a clutch of magazines targeted at ethical shoppers. David McCormack asks what differentiates them, and how PROs can highlight clients’ environmental cred

Matters such as climate change, waste, energy sourcing and exploitative trade rate are ever higher on shoppers’ list of concerns.  And so the environment has shot up the political agenda. The Tories went so far as to employ the slogan ‘Vote Blue and Go Green’ for this month’s local elections, while former US vice-president Al Gore has been feted in Cannes for his film about climate change.

Big business, too, is making more strident moves into the ethical arena. Top Shop, for instance, is selling clothing produced by Fairtrade fashion companies at its Oxford Street store. And Marks & Spencer this spring announced it will stock only coffee and tea that has The Fairtrade Organisation’s stamp of approval. ‘Our customers care about how our products are made and we want to help them make fair trade part of their retail habit,’ said chief executive Stuart Rose.

In response to this enlightenment, a handful of magazines have launched. And next month sees the debut of monthly lifestyle title Green Living. Published by Outeredge Publications, it will have a strong celebrity quota.

Glossy production
Perhaps the forerunner in the market is Edinburgh-based New Consumer. Launched in 2002 to cover Fairtrade products, its attitude defies sceptics who dismiss the green consumer movement as ‘worthy’. ‘It presents Fairtrade fashion in a way that is competitive with mainstream fashion press,’ says Abigail MacDougall, of label People Tree.

On a different tact, Ethical Consumer is primarily a buyers’ guide, providing Which?-style reports on the ethical soundness of products. ‘We look at the big companies behind the products and at the broader issues,’ says editor Rob Harrison.

The magazine’s reports have been reprinted in The Guardian and The Independent, suggesting that the quality press in particular are seriously addressing ethical living, reflected in the columns of The Guardian’s Leo Hickman and The Observer’s Lucy Siegle.

Meanwhile, yet-to-launch Sublime promises to be ‘the first international ethical consumer magazine’ (see sublimemagazine.com). A taster print issue is set to launch in September, with plans to go bimonthly next year.

‘The media are becoming far more interested in, and knowledgeable about, green issues,’ says Roberta Fuke, managing partner at Bray Leino PR, whose clients include green detergent brand Ecover. ‘We are witnessing a transformation of green from hippy to hip.’

Green Living
Co-publisher Theresa George
Email
t.george1@btinternet.com
Tel 020 7476 8509
Circulation 50,000-55,000

Who are your readers?
Our target is 25 to 45-year-olds  concerned about the environment.
We won’t be ‘worthy’ like, say, The Ecologist. We are sexier, featuring celebrity environmentalists and glamming it up with sections on shopping and beauty.

What celebrities will be involved?
Our launch issue features Thandie Newton talking about her electric car. We have interviews lined
up with Stella McCartney, Al Gore and Danny Glover, and hope to speak to Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow.

What regular features are there?
A global news section and a regular column from a Green Party MEP. Hard-hitting features will be
broken up with information on fashion, beauty and food, but we are not solely aimed at women. We also have a car section called Green Wheels, looking at things such as electric vehicles.

What are you looking for from PROs?
Good environmental stories. We want a broad mix of hard-hitting stories and new products. We are keen to promote small retailers as much as possible – the number of companies producing organic and recycled goods is
increasing by the day.


New Consumer
Editor Wendy Martin
Email
wendy@newconsumer.org
Tel 0131 561 1799
Circulation 33,000 subscribers

How has the magazine evolved?
When it launched four years ago, New Consumer was purely a Fairtrade title. It has since evolved into an ethical lifestyle mag based on feedback from subscribers.

How do you differ from rivals?
Our positivity. Our readers say The Ecologist sometimes makes them want to slit their wrists. We are more constructive and full of simple advice to empower people.

What does a typical issue contain?
We are consumer-based with sections on food and drink, products, fashion, music, finance and entertainment. We also have our own shop, and subscribers get a ten per cent discount.

Do you feature many celebrities?
Only if they are involved in a campaign about which they are genuinely passionate, such as Radiohead’s Thom Yorke supporting Friends of the Earth’s Big Ask initiative to tackle climate change.

Do you have a forward features list?
I will soon start commissioning for our September/October issue, which will have fashion as a general theme.

When do you next go to press?
The next issue, July/August, goes to press in mid-June.


Ethical Consumer
Editor Rob Harrison
Email
mail@ethicalconsumer.org
Tel 0161 226 2929
Circulation 8,000 subscribers

What do you cover?
We produce shopping guides, which look at the players in a particular sector, such as cars, fridges or TVs, marking them in relation to ethical issues.

What does a typical issue include?
The core content is the four product reports, alongside news, money pages on ethical investment, and human-interest features on people with a low-impact lifestyle.

What do you hope to achieve?
We are trying to influence corporate behaviour and show big producers that ethics can affect their competitiveness. We also try to encourage public debate.

Who are your readers?
Our main target market are the five to ten per cent of consumers who are known as ‘global watchdogs’. Many are campaigners already involved with Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace.

When should PROs contact you?
We tend to plan a year in advance. But if a product is genuinely innovative, we are always interested.

When do you next go to press?
Our next issue, July/August, is published on 10 June. Although largely subscription-based the magazine also has a limited newsstand release.

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