As an editor, I’m fully aware that the publishing industry isn’t exactly a tree’s best friend. A majority of all magazine paper is made from virgin fiber. Every year, that amounts to deforesting an area the size of the Rocky Mountain National Park. This according to Co-op America, a nonprofit organization that advocates, among other things, using paper with post-consumer recycled content (PCR) for magazine printing.
Here are some other things you might not know:
• The U.S. pulp and paper industry is the second largest industrial consumer of energy.
• Magazine paper production creates almost 7 million tons of greenhouse gasses annually.
• While the paper industry does plant more trees than it cuts down, growing demand for paper has fueled the rapid conversion of natural forests to pine plantations, which aren’t well-suited to providing wildlife habitat and preserving biodiversity.
Now the good news: Many small and midsize magazines like ours are switching to PCR and other types of recycled fiber. NewPage Corporation, the Ohio company that supplies most of Main Line Today’s paper, utilizes millbroke (any paper waste generated before the completion of the papermaking process), pre-consumer fiber (dry paper and paper waste left over from the papermaking process), and the aforementioned PCR (paper, paperboard and fibrous wastes collected from a variety of sources and municipalities after the product has outlived its use as a consumer item).
The bad news for publishers is that using recycled paper can be prohibitively expensive. Our parent company, Today Media, continues to explore its options on this front. For now, Main Line Today is printed on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Its materials come solely from legally harvested fiber from North American suppliers—nothing originates from old-growth forests, rainforests or “high conservation value” areas.
To help mitigate the environmental impact of the milling process, NewPage uses biomass, a mixture of bark, wood waste and black liquor from its pulping operations. An organic papermaking byproduct that’s climate neutral and doesn’t release additional CO2 into the atmosphere, biomass is burned to produce 60 percent of the energy needed for paper production at NewPage.
While companies small and large are working to do their part for the environment, you can help in other ways. Associate editor Dawn E. Warden’s “Color Your Life” cover story details a plan of attack that’s well within the grasp of even the most eco-challenged novice, offering tips for living green at home, at work, around the community, even while on vacation.
So really, folks—no more excuses. It’s easy being green.