ABCs of Going Green
by Diane Tinney
I’ve always been a recycler at home, so a year or so ago, when the Association of American Publishers asked that I participate on their Paper Issues Committee, I signed right up. To be honest, I did not know where to start in taking our small publishing company green and was grateful for the opportunity to learn more.
What I’ve learned over the past year, from the committee work and from various articles and suppliers, is that going green is often as easy as asking the question, “Do you have a recycled option?” and that it does not always mean spending more money.
Because it helps to have a guide and to understand the terminology, I’ve assembled the information that follows and added links to Web sites where you can learn more.
Going green may seem like the fad of today, but we small independent publishers and self-publishers can make a significant positive contribution to our planet’s health. With more than 100,000 of us publishing books each year, our impact on the environment is something to consider in our business plans.
Green Press Initiative is a grassroots effort enlisting the support of publishers and authors to move the industry to a greener way of publishing. [See “Green Textbooks” by Erin Johnson, June 2006; “The Pluses of Printing on Recycled Paper” by Rudy Shur, November 2006; and “Leaving a Green Thumbprint on the Page” by Amy Wachspress, July 2007.]
Take a moment to review the Initiative’s wonderful Web site (greenpressinitiative.org), and then, if you are so moved, look at its To-Do list for publishers at greenpressinitiative.org/publishers.htm, which includes a link for developing your own green policy and signing on as a supporter. I am especially heartened to see so many authors taking part.
Paper Task Force. Another great resource, on the Environmental Defense Web site, is part of the Paper Task Force findings (environmentaldefense.org/article.cfm?contentid=1689). Facts and figures galore, but the best part is the Paper Calculator (papercalculator.org), which you can use to estimate how switching to a recycled paper will have a positive impact on the environment.
For example, a small press might use a ton of paper in its first publishing effort. According to the Paper Calculator, switching to a 30 or 100 percent uncoated sheet recycled paper option would save the following:
30% Recycled100% RecycledSave 7 mature trees
Save 24 mature trees
Save 1 million BTUS
Save energy used by a home in one year
Save 632 lbs. of greenhouse gases
Save greenhouse gases from one car driven for a year
Pretty impressive, isn’t it? Just from one publisher in one year. Imagine what we could all do over the next decade. Not sure how much paper was used to print a book? Just ask your printer, who will be happy to estimate that for you.
Terminology. Don’t let the terminology bog you down. You can see a complete glossary of terms at conservatree.org/learn/Papermaking/Glossary.shtml.
You want paper sources that are not from ancient forests and not full of chemicals like chlorine.
“Post-consumer” paper is recycled content. Note that the EPA does not currently define “post-consumer” to include fiber derived from printers’ overruns; but various publishers and green-initiative groups are lobbying for reconsideration, since these fibers must be de-inked and processed the same way as any other post-consumer fiber.
Suppliers. See the Green Press Initiative Web site for a list of suppliers. And ask your printer for options too. As more of us request recycled paper stock, our printers will be more likely to stock green papers at a reasonable cost. Economics will play in here; as demand rises, we will all have more paper choices, and the price for recycled papers will fall. Until then, consider joining a paper co-op with other small publishers in your area or through your printer. Or, if you have a relationship with a larger printer that has gone green, ask it to “adopt” you for paper-supply needs.
Green-office tips. Most of this article has focused on our largest expenditure, for the paper we use in publishing our books. But your efforts should not stop there. Taking your office green is easy too, and will save you money right away.
Here are some Web sites with information and guides:
environment.gov.au/settlements/publications/government/purchasing/green-office-guide/index.html—an older publication, and from Australia, but with great information and metrics so you can see your savings at each change.
time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1630552,00.html—“Going Green at the Office” is a good article.
trumpuniversity.com/blog/index.cfm?blogpost_id=1032—Trump’s advice on a green office.
treehugger.com/files/2006/12/how_to_green_your_work.php—10 tips for a greener office.
And here are a few things we’ve done that you might want to do too:
Set all printers to print double-sided, immediately cutting paper costs in half.
Change all light bulbs for newer compact fluorescents (each 13w bulb is a 60w equivalent, saves $37 a year, and lasts for seven years with average use).
Move to a paperless office via a scanner that has a feeder (20 sheets at a time). This saves storage space and makes it easier to find what we need when we need it.
Pay bills electronically, moving to paperless statements and billing whenever possible.
Replace all equipment without Energy Star sleep mode.
Recycle paper, cans, bottles, ink cartridges, toner, etc.
Remove screen savers (they use full energy, and they’re not needed with newer monitors).
Stock recycled paper for printing and copying (it uses 90 percent less water and 50 percent less energy).
Replace desktop computers with more efficient, greener laptops.
Edit at all levels only in Word using Track Changes, rather than printing out a new version at every editing/proofing level.
Starting this year, we will produce all galleys and review copies only as PDFs and require that manuscripts for review be submitted as PDFs, and that correspondence be via email.
I hope this article helps you understand your choices better and, at the least, gives you something to think about as you create your business plan for the next year, the next five years, and beyond.
Diane Tinney runs Keene Publishing, home of Moo Press children’s books, and welcomes questions about going green. You can reach her via firstname.lastname@example.org.