Update: To view the complete Twitter transcript from the January 22, 2010 #FollowReader TwitChat on Sustainability in Publishing, just click here.
While the focus of the book industry, the media, and the book blogosphere for practically the last year has been decidedly digital, there are some pretty important but overlooked issues that are well-deserving of some air time/print space/ web real estate. Perhaps one of the most important of these issues is the environmental impact of the book industry, and what some folks are doing to lessen that impact and make publishing more environmentally sustainable.
In an effort to help bring some awareness to the issue, #FollowReader today will be devoted to the challenges of publishing in an environmentally sustainable way. Here are just a few facts (courtesy of Green Press Initiative) for your consideration:
- The U.S. book industry uses approximately 30 million trees every year. Many of these trees are from old growth and endangered forests.
- The paper industry is the fourth largest industrial source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Books and newspapers release greenhouse gases thought their lifecycles, with paper using almost half of all industrial wood harvested and contributing to almost 25% of landfill waste.
- Globally, scientists estimate that deforestation is responsible for 25% of human caused greenhouse gases.
- When trees are cut to make paper, they cease to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. In addition, greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere when either unused plant material decays or is burned for energy at the mill.
- As a result of these emissions and those associated with soil disturbances at the site of harvest, it can take up to 25 years for a newly planted forest to stop being a net emitter of greenhouse gases and hundreds of years before it stores the same amount of carbon as an undisturbed forest.
What’s more – publishing with recycled paper is not entirely eco-friendly in and of itself, and publishers (and readers) have to consider the long-term impact of using recycled paper in their printed books. Many recycled papers break down quickly and find their way to landfills sooner than higher quality papers. [Note from Kat: turns out I was not exactly right about this – different types of recycled paper have different durability. See my comment below].
Think ebooks are the eco-answer? Think again – the production of digital devices, batteries, and the energy required to power “the cloud” – those all have an impact on the environment.
So, what IS the answer, or ANSWERS? What can YOU, as a reader do to make a positive impact on sustainability in publishing?
Well, we’ll begin to explore those questions today on #FollowReader with some very knowledgeable guests:
Joining us from Glatfelter Paper, will be Melissa Klug (@permanentpaper), Glatfelter’s Director of Marketing, Printing & Carbonless Papers Division. Glatfelter has been involved in the manufacture of paper products for books since the late 19th century. Today, they work with most major publishers, including Random House, Simon & Schuster and Penguin, along with many other publishing companies, to supply paper for primarily hardcover trade books, but also many of the higher-end paperback book segments.
Environmental responsibility is a hallmark of Glatfelter, and all of their products are available with chain-of-custody forest certifications. Their paper mills utilize biomass from waste products of trees for system-wide energy as well. In addition to her marketing duties, Melissa is also responsible for Glatfelter’s Permanence Matters initiative, which is designed to educate and activate the literary community to actively and consciously choose higher-quality, long-lasting paper for books.
We are incredibly impressed by Portland State University’s student-run Ooligan Press, whose OpenBook Series is being produced as sustainably as possible – with a focus on paper and ink sources, design strategies, efficient and safe manufacturing methods, innovating printing technologies, support of local and regional companies, and corporate responsibility of their contractors. As such, we are delighted to have the pleasure of not one, not two, but THREE really smart Ooligan women joining us:
Melissa Brumer (@ooliganpress) and Janine Eckhart (@JanineEckhart), are founding managers of Ooligan Press’ Sustainable Publishing Initiative at Portland State University and co-authors of the book Rethinking Paper and Ink, an investigation of the sustainability in the publishing industry.
Also joining us from Ooligan – Natalie Guidry (@ooliganSPI) who manages Ooligan’s sustainability group this term and is currently managing the production of the second edition of the incredibly information-filled (and free as downloadable PDF!) book, Rethinking Paper and Ink.
(an aside: I think I really love the word Ooligan)
Joining us from Green Press Initiative will be Kelly Spitzner (@green_press), GPI’s Communications Coordinator. Kelly works to increase issue and program visibility in the mainstream/trade presses. She’s also working to increase accessibility and support to the industry and advocates through social media. Kelly got her start in the exciting world of publishing at a small company creating fresh resources for kids, teachers and families—positive hip hop anyone? And, she most recently worked on the 2008 Presidential Election, which brought her all over of the country, educating and organizing voters around environmental issues, among other things.
Green Press Initiative is committed to advancing sustainable patterns of production and consumption within the U.S. book and newspaper industries and within the paper industry at large. GPI also advances policy innovations related to paper and climate change and recycling and incubates pioneering new strategies for market transformation.
Green Press Initiative’s work has helped to bring about a six fold increase in recycled fiber use in the U.S. book industry—that’s a reduction of over 1.4 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 3 million trees per year!
An internet Entrepreneur since the tender age of 14, Nick is currently BookSwim’s Chief Technical Officer and resident wunderkind. And, Nick is not JUST a techie – he has some literary blood in him as well: Nick is co-author and founder of the webcomic/comic book ‘Amazing Super Zeroes, and his favorite book is Jorges Borges’ Labyrinths.
Quite the lineup, eh? So – get your questions ready!
To start things out, I’ll be asking our panel a few questions of my own, including:
- How do we define sustainable publishing?
- What are the biggest polluters/environmental issues in publishing?
- What publishers are doing a good job/making advances toward sustainable publishing practices?What other industry players are doing a good job (booksellers, printers, paper manufacturers, digital device makers, etc.?)
- Is e- really more environmentally friendly than paper and ink?What are some of the biggest misconceptions about sustainability as it relates to the publishing industry? What are some of the environmental costs of digital publishing?
- What can readers do to help shape the way the industry approaches sustainable practices?
Please make a point to follow our guests on Twitter:
The fun begins at 4pm ET (or 1pm PST).To join the #followreader Twitter conversation today, here’s what to do:
1. 10 minutes or so before 4pm ET, log in to Twitter or whatever interface you use (we recommend Tweetchat.com).
2. To follow the discussion, run a search for #followreader.
3. I’ll announce about 10 minutes ahead of time that we’re going to begin. And I’ll introduce the guests.
4. I’ll start by posting a question.
5. To post to the discussion, make sure that the hashtag #followreader is in each tweet.
NOTE: TweetChat.com refreshes quickly and automatically loads your hashtag when you are in the discussion.