Volume 13, Issue 36 ~ September 9 - 14, 2005
Got an Environmental Question? Send it to: EARTH TALK, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881. Or submit your question at: www.emagazine.com. Or e-mail us at: earthtalk@emagazine.com.
From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

Reads that Close the Recycling Loop
Are any book or magazine publishers using recycled paper these days

Environmental groups have been advocating for changes in the paper choices of the publishing industry for years. For one, Greenpeace’s Book Campaign has been working to convince publishers to switch from non-recycled virgin paper to more green-friendly recycled varieties. The virgin paper used in most books has been linked to the ruin of forests in Canada, Finland, Southeast Asia and elsewhere.

Markets Initiative, a group of Canadian environmental organizations working with Greenpeace, has convinced 67 Canadian publishers to make formal commitments to phase out virgin paper in their books. The coalition even provides an extensive list of eco-friendly current titles on its website.

Greenpeace and its cohorts have had less success with American publishers, though, going so far as to recommend that U.S. buyers of the latest Harry Potter book make their purchases online from Canadian purveyors offering Raincoast Books’ version on 100 percent recycled paper.

It is much the same on the magazine side, where a few dozen publishers have embraced the use of recycled paper, while the big players continue to utilize virgin fibers, mainly due to cost considerations, in putting out their glossy productions.

The Magazine PAPER Project, which is trying to get big publishers to take the lead in choosing recycled, as well as chlorine-free options, lists more than 60 magazines that have made a commitment to using ecologically responsible papers, such as those that contain post-consumer recycled content or that are produced using non-toxic manufacturing processes. The list includes a wide range of publications, from Ms. Magazine to Discover to Shape, and just about every environmental and non-profit publication in-between.

Magazine PAPER Project, which is part of the non-profit Co-op America’s WoodWise program, walks publishers through their papers’ impacts and assists them in adopting environmentally preferable alternatives.

Perhaps an indication of things to come is the 2002 book, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart — which describes how ideas of ecologically intelligent design can be applied to everyday things in order to reduce environmental damage — a book printed on a synthetic paper made from plastic resins. The book’s pages look and feel like paper, are waterproof and can be recycled in communities that have the means to collect polypropylene, a material similar to that used in yogurt containers. The paper is significantly more costly to produce than paper (for now), but this tree-free book, says the book’s website, “points the way toward the day when synthetic books, like many other products, can be used, recycled and used again without losing material quality.”

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