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13 essential newsletters for sustainability professionals

Dec 28, 2022 | Public | 0 comments

You’re refreshing your go-to news sites every few hours, yet the stories remain stale. You’re over the gloom, doom and “both sides-ism” that stymies climate reporting by big-time media outlets. Your favorite climate thought leaders fled Twitter once Elon Musk took over in October.

Where can you find unique takes and data-driven insights and join a greater community to inform your work in sustainability? Check your email.

A newsletter renaissance over the past decade has led to a multitude of original newsletters. Many are basically what used to be called blogs, just delivered fresh to your inbox and generally free of fancy formatting. The following titles are worth a look for those in the business of sustainability, especially with the fate of everyone’s 280-character mass messaging service in question. Most of these titles focus on solutions and tools, some speak to the personal side of sustainability work, and others provide broad, holistic perspectives from an array of populations.

This does not include some excellent climate-focused options from well-funded publications, such as Bloomberg Green Daily (which you should get, especially if you subscribe). The majority here (in random order) are published on the Substack platform, which has enabled gutsy independent writers to launch passion projects — often without pay and only occasionally earning the glory of hundreds or thousands of paid subscribers.

Disclaimer: I pay for only a handful of newsletters, so my decisions are largely based on the free offerings. However, kindly consider upgrading to paid versions of your favorites to support independent journalism.

Further disclaimer: Call me biased, but I would be remiss not to mention the GreenBiz newsletters. GreenBiz analysts and editors breathe the business of sustainability. They produce weekly insights on climate tech, carbon, circularity, energy, food, sustainable finance, transportation and more. I’ve chosen to leave all our titles off this particular list but encourage you to subscribe as you’re refreshing your information resources in the New Year. And now, here’s what else I’m reading.


Atmos Earth magazine produces two great weekly newsletters featuring perspectives that are hard to find elsewhere, including queer and Indigenous voices. A former reporter at Earther, Colorlines and Yes Magazine, Yessenia Funes writes The Frontline, “A reminder that the warming of the world is unjust.” Atmos co-founder and editor-in-chief Willow Defebaugh, a former high-fashion editor, pens The Overview, which advances a view of “holism over sustainability.” “On a more personal level, as a trans woman, I think a lot about transformation, right?” they said in May. “And I think about that through the lens of climate activism and climate justice. I know that transformation is possible, and I know that human beings are capable of transforming and changing.”


Queer Climate Activists Speak Out After COP27 in Egypt

Sacred Feathers — and the Tribes That Need Them

The Women Fighting Fire With Fire

Climate Denial’s Racist Roots


Emily Atkin subscribes to the “Joe Frazier method” of journalism. The former New Republic staffer brings the fire to politicians, CEOs and media figures alike, backing up her passion with accountable reporting. She’s launching Substack chats Thursdays. (You’ll see plenty of her roommate’s dog, Fish, too.)


How journalists uncovered power companies’ ploy to buy the press

Twitter’s climate vigilantes

A New York Times columnist went to Greenland and discovered fossil fuel talking points

The curious origins of the anti-ESG movement


Michael Thomas is founder of the Carbon Switch site, which offers sound consumer advice for electrifying homes, and his writings have run in The Atlantic and Fast Company. The mission of his new newsletter, Distilled, is to “cut through the noise” about climate problems and solutions, mobilizing his tendency to spend hundreds of hours researching a topic. Thomas has collaborated recently on investigations with publishing entrepreneurs Emily Atkin (Heated) and Judd Legum (Popular Information).


I Joined 40 Clean Energy Opposition Groups on Facebook. Here’s What I Learned.

How Crypto Is Keeping Coal Power Plants Alive

Amazon Has Spent $138,000 To Elect Climate Deniers This Election Cycle

Gen Dread

Grief, anxiety and depression over the existential climate threat of our time are common experiences of sustainability professionals. Britt Wray, author of the new book “Generation Dread,” tackles the mental health side effects of the climate crisis head-on to help readers cultivate coping tools and resilience. She’s a human and planetary health postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University who also advises the Climate Mental Health Network.


Where is the global climate adaptation plan for human resilience?

How the fossil fuel industry seeds doomism to protect continued extraction

Eco-fascism is part of climate anxiety

The Crucial Years

This must-read comes from multi-hyphenate Bill McKibben, who teaches environmental journalism at Middlebury College, co-founded and recently launched Third Act to mobilize older adults on climate. He has a gulp-inducing way with words, like his 1989 book “The End of Nature” and his Rolling Stone cover pieces (Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math was 10 years ago!)


Someday the climate fight will be dull — and that’s how we’ll know we’re winning

If you think Bitcoin Spews Carbon, Wait Till You Hear About…Banking

A Fast-Emptying Ark

The Sustainable Business

Self-anointed “circular economy warrior” Garry Cooper co-founded the climate tech darling Rheaply, whose software enables offices and construction sites to reuse materials at scale, one swivel chair and building brick at a time. The Chicago-based CEO presented at COP27 in Egypt in November. The neuroscience Ph.D.’s LinkedIn newsletter brings passionate optimism for adaptive reuse for the built environment. “So instead of focusing on the twists and turns of our current ‘highway to hell,’ who is ready to build the highway out of climate hell?” he wrote recently.


With the EPA Limited, it is Up to the Private Sector to Lead on Carbon Emissions

What I’ve Learned from the Best Sustainability Plans

Why furniture (yes, furniture) should be your reuse priority


If you’re looking for a dose of optimism, acclaimed climate communicator Alaina Wood, a.k.a. the “Garbage Queen,” has been producing this cheeky newsletter since August. It’s accessible for most ages, with animated GIFs to support each several-line dose of “The Good News” on climate tech, trends and policy. Produced for media company Pique Action, it also has plenty of supporting video and social media content.


No More Gaslighting?

COP27 Wasn’t ~Entirely~ A Cop-Out

Having a Breakdown ~Naturally~

The Phoenix

This “newsletter for climate revolutionaries” is entering its tenth year. Its author, Minneapolis-based meterologist Eric Holthaus, formerly of Slate and Grist, wrote the book “The Hopeful Earth.” In 2021, he founded Currently, a weather service tailored to the climate crisis. Lately, he’s also cultivating Project Mushroom, an embryonic Twitter alternative to run on a Mastodon server. Holthaus conceived of it when Elon Musk reinstated President Donald Trump on Twitter. In less than one month, Holthaus Kickstarted $201,989 to build the “community platform for justice and action on an overheating planet.” The Phoenix is infrequent and includes guest writers.


Mutual aid as a climate solution

Planting trees makes climate change worse. Yup, you read that right.

Climate communication in a pandemic


If you like deep dives on clean energy and policy, Volts from former Vox and Grist muckraker David Roberts won’t disappoint. This newsletter is really a vehicle for his Volts podcast, and it often includes transcripts if you’d rather skim than listen.


Gorgeous new WPA-style posters celebrate DOE’s latest clean-energy technologies

What to think about deep-sea mining for clean-energy minerals

Making it easier to build distributed energy in the places where it’s most needed

Sustain What

Four-decade environmental journalist Andy Revkin, formerly of the New York Times, is a trusted source and a lively read, with a podcast by the same name. He has shifted in recent years to community-building efforts that open up conversations beyond the traditional one-way flow of journalism.


Why a Twitter Implosion Could be a Disaster in Disasters

Celebrate One Small Step for Planetary Sustainability in NASA’s First Physical Test of an Asteroid Deflection Method

With Billions of Dollars to Invest in Clean Energy and Resilience, Here’s the New Climate Communication Challenge


Before Amy Westervelt launched the Drilled podcast in 2017 investigating the “true crime” of the fossil fuel industry, voices explicitly blaming Big Oil for climate change were few and far between. She called out the “Mad Men of climate denial” and showed receipts. The podcast continues to connect the dots on the industry’s double dealings, counting 1 million listeners. Its newsletter on the Ghost platform offers a curated weekly list of stories she recommends. Monthly “Drilled Down” pieces go deeper, sometimes with guest authors. Also worth a listen is Westervelt’s recently folded Hot Take podcast with Mary Annaïse Heglar, where they lob occasional F-bombs and offer catharsis for those frustrated that “the needle” isn’t moving fast enough, especially on climate justice. (Sample: “The Fossil Fuel Industry’s Big Jobs Lie.”)


Drilled Down: Old School Climate Denial Is Back

Drilled Down: If More Climate Coverage = More Fossil Ads, Keep It

Climate Must-Reads: New Studies Follow the Money, Plus Industry’s Media Meddling Reaches New Levels, Climate Burnout & More

Hill Heat

President Joe Biden’s administration has squeaked in a trifecta of big climate-solutions-related laws — the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Build Back Better Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. But there’s a lot more action to follow in Washington, D.C., with new members coming to a divided Congress. Self-described “climate hawk” Brad Johnson, who founded the nonprofit Climate Hawks Vote, goes inside the legislative factory, with takeaways from election outcomes, insights about Congressional committee leaders and updates on hearings — sometimes (OK, frequently) with a touch of snark.


Climate costs and green capital

Climate Politics Almanac: Science and Subcommittees

The new climate denial

Parenting in the Climate Crisis

This one is relevant for climate professionals who happen to be parents or other types of caregivers of children. Freelance writer and Civil Eats social media editor Bridgett Shirvell notes that her daughter will have drastically different childhood memories of North Carolina’s Outer Banks beaches than she did. She shares insights about this generational divide, with an eye to infusing care for the environment in the next generation.


Sands: How much of the world do we share with our kids when we know there are things we will not be able to save for them?

Can We Show Our Kids The World Without Harming It?

Conversations with Ghosts

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