Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Publishing With Respect for Trees

When I spoke to Margot Baldwin of Chelsea Green a few weeks back, she mentioned the Green Press Initiative. I thought: this sounds like something I should know about. Alas, it seems that books are far from innocent in terms of their effect on the environment. Unbeknownst to most of us, however, there are ways to lessen that impact. So I did a little research, and this is some of what I learned:

--Each year the U.S. book and newspaper industries combined consume more than 125 million trees and release over 40 million metric tons of CO2 into the environment

--This is the carbon emissions equivalent of 7.3 million cars

--The fiber used for paper is often sourced from vulnerable ecosystems in several continents

--Some 25% of human-caused greenhouse gases can be attributed to deforestation

On the what-we-can-do side:

--Each ton of recycled fiber that replaces virgin fiber saves 17-24 mature trees and as much as 7.5 tons of CO2 equivalent emissions

--The Forest Stewardship Council offers guidelines and has a certification program for sustainable paper use

--Last month the White House set an example for responsible paper use with Executive Order 13423

--Business and environmental groups are beginning to work together to build forest conservation and restoration goals into industry practices, as in the Carbon Canopy model and the treatise on environmentally responsible publishing signed by more than 100 publishers

--Authors and consumers can make a difference by making their preferences and concerns knownThese are the trees I look out on when I work, though now the leaves are gone.

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