“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).
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:
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.
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."