It never hurts to have a fluffy mascot. Just ask Todd Woody, assistant managing editor at Business 2.0, and the brains behind eco-business blog Green Wombat. Launched in November 2006 as part of the CNNMoney.com blog network, Green Wombat already has a loyal following and plans to keep growing. Plenty asked Woody what the future holds for green business—and just what is a Green Wombat, anyway?
Green Wombat is different from most blogs: You make one post per day, with a focus on analysis and reporting.
From the get-go, I decided that the blog's value to readers would be its original reporting and not as a news aggregator or pundit.
Is it difficult to find stories to sink your teeth into every day?
Part of the reason I started the blog was that it was impossible to cover the booming green economy in the monthly magazine, so there's been no shortage of issues to write about. The challenge is finding stories that have not been covered elsewhere or to bring a new angle to breaking news.
Do you think the "booming green economy" will last? Is it motivated by a real concern for the environment, or is it all about marketing?
While certainly there are companies engaged in greenwashing and mostly interested in the PR benefits of being "green," the fact remains that there are a lot of corporations making concrete changes that will have real-world impacts. For instance, when a global behemoth like Wal-Mart decides to do such things as install solar panels on its stores, sell 100 million high-efficiency light bulbs, and requires its suppliers to adopt environmentally beneficial manufacturing processes, you'll see the needle moved. That said, as with any boom, there will be people and companies trying to cash in with dubious products and services. But this is not a fad: Climate change has unleashed economic and political forces that will result in significant changes to the U.S. and global economies. Just look at what's happening in California with the state's global warming law, renewable energy mandates for utilities, low carbon fuel standard, etc.
What kinds of stories do your readers respond to?
You never know what will really touch a nerve with readers. But in recent weeks, posts about Bank of America's subsidy for employees to buy hybrid cars, the city of Austin's move to slash greenhouse gas emissions, and California's ban on electricity purchases from coal-fired power plants have elicited a lot of reader comments and debate.
Why the wombat?
I used to live in Australia and have spent much time in the bush observing native wildlife, with wombats being my favorite charismatic megafauna. The wombat can vary its metabolism to conserve energy and food, allowing it to respond to climatic changes.
Pretty appropriate for a green blog. So how will Green Wombat be adapting in the future?
I spend a couple hours a day on Green Wombat as the blog is a sideline and my main responsibilities are to the magazine. But I'd like to beef up the content, posting more and writing more in-depth items. Stay tuned.
Story by Erika Villani. This article originally appeared in Plenty in February 2007.