Green is in, as Al Gore and his environmental activism proved at the Oscars. And eco-friendly social networking sites like RiverWired.com and Zaadz.com are emerging as marketing venues for retailers like GreenCulture.com.
Paul Demery , Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce
When Al Gore steals the show at the Oscars with his environmental activism, you know green is in. That is evident online where several sites cater to those interested in the environment, and even web retailing titan Amazon prominently features a link to eco-friendly products.
But Catherine Billon, who has spent 20 years with such media companies as Time Warner and Discovery Channel, believes there is a need for a web site that offers visitors information about the environment and eco-friendly products along with the opportunity to get to know others with similar interests. Billon has founded RiverWired, which this week launched a beta version of its Riverwired.com web site.
“All over America, people have a shared goal of living greener,” Billon says. “Our mission is to help by providing a one-stop-shop for our audiences to easily find, showcase and share stories, information, and entertainment having to do with living green.”
RiverWired hopes to earn revenue by selling advertising on its site that targets those concerned about environmental issues.
A likely candidate would be Green Culture Inc., No. 470 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, which sells environmentally conscious products. While Sunil Wagle, the company’s president and CEO, had not heard of RiverWired, he says he is in discussions about possibly advertising on a similar site, Zaadz.com.
Zaadz.com, which has been in operation for two years, supports itself with revenue from advertising and by providing services to businesses with compatible values. Those services include providing newsletters and social networking sites where customers of those businesses can share their thoughts and get acquainted, says Siona van Dijk, who describes herself as Zaadz’s “synchronicity coordinator” responsible for internal and external communications.
The Zaadz site itself includes member postings on everything from poetry and Buddhism to yoga and love, as well as book reviews and ways to connect with fellow Zaadsters. Zaadz (the name comes from the Dutch word for seed) has 50,000 members and gets 800,000 unique visits per month to its site, van Dijk says.
She says those members are anxious to learn about businesses that are in tune with Zaadz’s values, and that Zaadz is selective about the advertising it accepts and the kinds of ads it posts. “We don’t like big, splashy ads, nothing animated,” she says. “And we only take sponsors we really believe in, who have similar ideals.”
Among the current advertisers at Zaadz.com are Sustainable Energy In Motion Bicycle Tours; Motto, a magazine for “socially responsible” entrepreneurs; and Ashoka, an organization that raises funds to support individuals around the world seeking local solutions to social problems.