Environmentalists On-Line

In today’s wired world, more and more people are turning to the Internet for business and pleasure. Inventor and writer Paul Gerstenberger, founder and CEO of the EcoISP (Internet Service Pro-vider), hopes consumers will take a stand for the environment and sign up with his new company.

Gerstenberger says the 29 million subscribers to AOL, the world’s largest ISP, are supporting a corporation that panders to environmentally and socially destructive advertisers and needlessly pollutes the environment by shipping out billions of advertising disks. "Those annoying disks are piling up in landfills and releasing toxic chemicals into the air," says Gerstenberger.

Alternatively, the EcoISP’s homepage serves as a green portal; linkingenvironmental news, chat rooms, marketplaces and special events. The colorful, humorous EcoPals characters host the interactive children’s section.

"As soon as subscribers sign on to the Internet, they are reminded of their convictions and updated on the environment," says Gerstenberger. The company also screens all potential advertisers for corporate responsibility and sustainability, and no promotional disks are sent out.

The EcoISP switched from beta test mode to full, worldwide service on October 1, "offering some of the best Internet functionality and definitely the best customer service," says Gerstenberger. The ISP boasts a powerful e-mail system, search engine and broadband options including DSL and ISBN. Dial-up modem service costs $15.95 per month.

The 140-employee, Colorado-based company gives half of all profits, or $2.10 per regular subscription, to environmental nonprofit groups. Each of the EcoISP’s current 700,000 customers choose to have their share support one of a growing list of 3,300 green groups. Gerstenberger says he hopes to donate $100 million this year. He plans to gradually lower the prices for his company’s services (through resource conservation and streamlining), and he would eventually like to raise $1 billion a year for environmental organizations. Also, the CEO, who controls all of the private company, says he gives away most of his personal profits to other charitable causes.