7 exceptional sustainability podcasts you should tune in to

If you can’t get enough of the sustainability world, there are plenty of great podcasts to entertain your commute and workday.

A bumper crop of new green podcasts has materialized since my last round-up, so here is the 2017 edition of exceptional shows worth your ear. All the picks in the list are free, well produced, available on iTunes and currently churning out episodes.

Our own podcast GreenBiz 350 is a weekly digest of sustainability news, averaging about 45 minutes. Every episode includes a "Week in Review" as well as in-depth feature stories that showcase clips from interviews GreenBiz reporters have conducted.

greenbiz 350 podcast friday

1. Direct Current

It isn’t often that the word "creative" is used to describe the work of a government agency, but this show produced by the U.S. Department of Energy is oddly very creative. It's heavy on humor and full of clips and sound effects.

Taking a page out of the "This American Life" model of audible storytelling — even beyond its "This American Lightbulb" skit in the first episode — Direct Current uses characters and scenes to describe the latest energy dilemmas, and to let us know what they are up to with our tax dollars. From the saga of one woman’s difficulties with installing solar on her roof, to explaining how the electric grid works by recounting the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Sandy on one resident of Hoboken, New Jersey, the podcast lends the DOE as human a voice as anything could hope to.

2. Sustainable Business Fridays

Students of the Bard MBA Sustainability program produce this podcast, including selecting and interviewing subjects. The breadth of subjects is wide, including the CEOs of giant organizations, young start-up entrepreneurs and people working at local non-profits, illustrating how sustainability can be applied to any organization. Episodes tell the story of the interviewee's career trajectory toward sustainability, as well as a detailed look at their work. New episodes appear twice a month (and we run the transcripts on our Bard MBA column).

3. Energy Transition Show

There are dozens of podcasts about energy out there, but this one stands out for the education it provides for professionals working to transition away from fossil fuels and toward renewables.

Host Chris Nelder from the Rocky Mountain Institute interviews experts in various fields related to energy during the hour-long episodes. Global market transformations, oil prices, coal use in China and India, storage technologies, smart grids, energy policies: The series discusses every aspect of the transition necessary to move the bulk of our energy production to renewables. Although the deep dives can be technical, Nelder adds the elbow grease by encouraging guests to break things down for every listener.

4. The Adaptors

Hosts Flora Lichtman and Katherine Wells interview one person per episode about his or her efforts to figure out how to survive the worst effects of climate change — and the methods are unconventional, to say the least. Take, for example, candid discussions on the ethics of having babies in climate-constrained world, bioengineering meat allergies or cat-eyes on humans, a car made of half a million Legos that runs on compressed air. These strange, innovative solutions to climate change may inspire your own creative solutions.

5. The Sustainability Agenda

Each episode of The Sustainability Agenda spotlights a single guest discussing a single question. The series by Financial Times veteran Fergal Byrne includes interviews with leading sustainability researchers and leaders of NGOs that focus on sustainable business, such as CDP's Founder Paul Dickinson, BSR's CEO Aron Cramer and John Elkington of Volans (a GreenBiz columnist). Listen in for a broad view of contemporary sustainability thought.

6. Infinite Earth Radio

Produced in partnership by consulting firm Skeo and the Local Government Commission, this interview series focuses on sustainable urban development and environmental justice topics such as equitable housing, livable cities, public transportation and climate resilience. Co-hosts are Mike Hancox, founder and CEO of Skeo, and Vernice Miller-Travis, an expert in environmental justice.

7. Sustainability Defined

What are neonics? How does a company really disclose its sustainability efforts? Is Nature Deficit Disorder a real thing? Each episode breaks down and illustrates one concept at a time in an interview with a professional. Co-hosts are Scott Breen, "a funny Spock" with a law degree from Indiana University, and Jay Siegel, who is "aware of his inner tree hugger" and holds a masters degree in urban planning from Cornell University. Conversational, engaging and educational, this series is a great way to get a crash course on sustainability topics.