Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Going Green in Print

Today my good friend Small Footprints of Reduce Footprints has offered to share some thoughts about green printing with us. I suggest you check her blog out as she offers some great tips for everyday people like you and me to reduce our footprints and tread lightly on our planet.

“Going Green” is big business these days. It’s politically correct and, with our current economic crisis, it’s a popular course of action. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes easier said than done. For example, many authors, hoping to publish their “best seller,” find it difficult to find a publisher with environmentally friendly practices. This is a big issue because books use paper … lots of paper. And why is paper use a big deal? Here are some interesting facts:
  • A million copies of an average 250-page book takes approximately 12,000 trees to produce the paper required for this single title.

  • Trees pull greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. They are a terrestrial source of air, taking in vast quantities of carbon dioxide and, through the process of photosynthesis, converting it into clean, breathable air. This helps prevent global warming. There have been recent studies that indicate that trees have the ability to change weather patterns and create wind.

  • 42% of the global industrial wood harvest is used to make paper. Many of the worlds most endangered forests, including those in Northern Canada, the southeast United States, Indonesia, and South America, are feeling severe impacts associated with book and newspaper publishing. Forests are being either cleared or altered, many times illegally, with devastating effects on the people and wildlife that depend on them.

  • Paper production requires large quantities of energy. The paper industry is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among United States manufacturing industries.

  • Paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste (and one third of municipal landfill waste).

But paper isn’t the only factor involved. Publishing a book includes other things … there’s the amount and type of ink used, the material used for the book cover as well as the type of binding glue used and the number of copies produced versus the number actually required for sale. And what about getting those books to the consumer … are they being shipped in an environmentally friendly way?

So, you see, going green in print isn’t simple! It is, however, possible. Here are some ideas:
  • Check out The Green Press Initiative. It is a valuable resource to authors. In addition to form letters, encouraging your current publisher to adopt sustainable practices, it includes a list of publishers who have either signed a Book Industry Treatise, or have strong environmental policies.

  • Consider an e-book. Here’s what award-winning author David Pereda has to say about e-books:

“With Amazon's Kindle (and a host of imitators) leading the way, and the dismal economic situation of the country wreaking havoc on family and business budgets alike, the publishing landscape is changing rapidly. On the one hand, readers are more reluctant than ever to spend $30 buying a hard bound book. On the other hand, traditional publishers are more concerned than ever with cutting expenses and making money, to avoid -- or at least delay -- going out of business.What's the alternative? E-publishing.

E-publishing makes sense because it's cheaper, it's accessible online, and it's green. I see the e-publishing phenomenon much like TV was in its inception, when it blasted onto the scene and started competing with the powerful radio broadcasting companies...Kids nowadays feel much more comfortable with technology than we do, regardless of our computer savvy. Later generations will not know any better. For them -- excuse me, for those of them lucky enough to develop a taste for literature -- the latest version of Kindle will be infinitely more attractive, cleaner, more transportable, cheaper, and less damaging to the ecology than a dirty old book.

My suggestion to your writer friends wanting to go green is to research e-publishers as a viable option for their manuscripts.”

  • Search the internet with the terms “sustainable publishers”, “sustainable publishing” or “sustainable book publishers”.

  • Take a look at environmental books and contact the author (they usually have a website with contact information). Ask them if their book was sustainably published and, if so, by whom.

  • Contact publishers and ask them about their environmental policies … I’m a firm believer that if we all ask, companies will be motivated to accommodate us.

Don’t forget about advertising … if you’ll be promoting your book, do so in environmentally friendly ways (use recycled paper for printed advertisements, consider social media websites and other internet forms of communication).

As an author, one has a real opportunity to impact the world … in an environmentally friendly, positive way.

Small Footprints is the author of Reduce Footprints, a blog about easy ways to walk a little gentler on the earth. She has been passionate about environmental issues for most of her life and in July, 2008, took that passion to the "blogosphere", sharing tips and ideas on "green living."


Small Footprints said...

Thank you, so much, Kimberly for having me over.

To all those who are here with the Field Trip ... we have plenty of time before the bus heads back so ... please ... relax and have a good look around ... there's a lot to see and learn here! :)

Small Footprints

Anonymous said...

I like field trips. Always did at school too. Very insightful as always, publishing and book buying are not my spheres, but it doesn't hurt to know what's going on in the world. Although in our English course, our students books are printed on recycled paper. Part of the problem we face, at least here in Brazil, is recycled paper is 5% more expensive, which is a detracting feature.


Gopal.G said...

Awareness of the need to cut down on the use of paper seems to be picking up. Recycled paper products are now more in use in social functions. More e-mails also help save a lot of paper. Many finaincial institutions advocate the use of e-mails to save trees. Your post is quite timely and absolutely vital in the face of the grim global warming that is now stated to be gaining momentum.

Frisky Librarian said...

I much as I try to reduce my footprint and I can see why we need e-books, I just can't get enthused about them (I don't even know if they're available in Australia yet). There's nothing like the smell and feel of a book and watching the number of unread pages shrink away. Nothing like actually going to the book shop to browse and picking books up.

But then, I didn't think I'd ever take to buying whole CDs on iTunes and I do that now.

GutsyWriter said...

Come pick up your award on my blog.