Enlightened Literature: A Quest for Greener Books

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Authors (from left) Fritjof Capra, Alice Walker, and Julia Butterfly Hill support the Green Press Initiative.

Book publishing gobbles up 20 million trees a year. Fortunately, a conscientious cast of authors, publishers, and printers has banded together to seek alternative paper sources.


Two nonprofit programs, Green Press Initiative (United States) and Markets Initiative (Canada), are working to increase the number of books printed on post-consumer recycled paper that’s free of fiber from old-growth forests and chlorine bleach.


Authors behind the project include Barbara Kingsolver, Alice Walker, Margaret Atwood, Paul Hawken, Fritjof Capra, Julia Butterfly Hill, Winona LaDuke, and Andrew Weil. The Canadian edition of J.K. Rowling’s hefty bestseller Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Raincoast Books, 2003) was printed on recycled paper. About 120 North American publishers, including New Society, Island Press, Chelsea Green, Gibbs Smith and Cornell University, are committed to the tree-saving initiatives.


Each ton of 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper that replaces virgin-fiber paper saves 24 trees, 10,000 gallons of wastewater, 1 ton of greenhouse gases, and 1,124 pounds of solid waste, according to Environmental Defense.


Book publishing is an enlightened pursuit; current printing methods are not. For information: Green Press Initiative or Markets Initiative.