Books on 'Green' Paper
How much good could a do-gooder do, if a do-gooder did good with wood?
That question -- in some form -- seems to have occurred to former President Bill Clinton when he was writing "Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World," a very very very well-meaning 2007 book urging all of us to acts of charity and responsibility toward each other and the environment. But, what about all the trees that had to be cut down to print the book? Would all that pulp -- gulp -- offset some of its positive impact on the planet?
The tip-off that this concern arose is a cryptic notice on the book's copyright page: "This book is printed on Strategic Hi-Bulk Light Natural text paper made with recycled fibers, part of the Domtar EarthChoice family, a full line of socially and environmentally responsible papers. This paper contains fiber from well-managed, independently certified forests."
Above that wording are two symbols. One looks like the outline of a tree and says "FSC." The other is a recycling triangle that says "25%." I got the general idea, of course. But for a precise translation of the eco-speak and accompanying hieroglyphics, I called the book's publisher, Knopf, and spoke to Andy Hughes, its director of production.
Hughes said the "FSC" tree logo means that the Forest Stewardship Council, a non-profit organization, certified that the wood fiber used to print Clinton's book came from well-managed tree plantations in the United States and Canada and not (Gaia forbid) from endangered or old-growth forests in, say, the Amazon basin or Indonesia.
The "25 %" symbol means that a quarter of the fiber was recycled -- in this case, Hughes specified, from "pre-consumer waste," that is, waste from the papermaking and printing process, not "post-consumer waste" such as recycled newspapers. Using post-consumer waste, Hughes said, would require de-inking (which uses energy) but, more importantly, would make it impossible to determine the source of all the fiber; some evilly-obtained rainforest pulp might slip in.
Paul Bogaards, Knopf's executive director of publicity, said the request to use FSC-certified paper originated from Clinton: "Absolutely, he wanted his book to be from sustainable sources."
According to Hughes, using paper from certifiably sustainable forests is "a little bit more expensive, but it's not punitive, and we're making it work. It's in our interest, it's in the environment's interest. It's just the thing to do." Random House, Knopf's parent company, has "corporately instituted ..... a multi-year program to accelerate our use of FSC and recycled papers," he added.
Translation: You're going to see more and more books published on "green" paper, and publishers are going to let you know it, too.
Before Clinton, one of the first authors to insist on recycled paper was, naturally enough, Wangari Maathai, who won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for organizing Kenya's Green Belt movement, which mobilized thousands of women to plant trees to restore the country's depleted forests. Her 2006 memoir, "Unbowed," was printed on 100-percent recycled paper.
Now other authors are asking for similar consideration. Bogaards said Oliver Sacks requested, and got, environmentally-certified paper for his latest book, "Musicophilia."
Have you noticed any others? Would you pay a few bucks more for a book printed on environmentally kosher paper? Maybe more to the point: Are you ready to stop purchasing books UNLESS they're printed on certified Earth-friendly paper?
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: DC | September 19, 2008 10:02 AM
Posted by: Jennifer Howard | September 19, 2008 11:32 AM
Posted by: julia | September 19, 2008 12:30 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.