Better Paper is both a project and product conceived by Green America with the intentions of switching readers and publishers to less wasteful forms of media. Primarily, magazines and journals printed on recycled paper.
Compared to virgin paper production, post-consumer paper saves 24 trees, 17 billion BTU’s in energy, and 8,750 gallons of waste-water per ton of paper produced.
Better Paper encourages publishers to contribute to these savings by printing exclusively on their ecologically-improved paper. Thus, comes in the product. Better Paper pages are made with a mixture of recycled content and agricultural residue, untouched by chlorine. Rather than relying on heavy carbon materials, like coal and biomass, Better Pages use solar, wind, and bio-gas as their energy sources.
In addition to contributing to waste reduction on a massive scale, participants of Better Paper receive multiple benefits to secure their membership, – assuming their interests transcend that of pure environmental empowerment. Such benefits include Eco-labels to garner reader awareness, expert assistance in creating a “Sustainable Paper Policy”, and inclusion in online promotions. They also qualify for an AVEDA environmental award. These marketing trinkets appear to be worth the business investment, with some participants increasing sales by 114%.
While we’re on the topic of greener reading options, we might as well address the debate of the traditional book vs the eBook. It has actually been found that one would need to read 40 to 50 volumes of material on their e-reader before it became the greener option. This further compounded when comparing the use of e-readers to books made with post-consumer materials. However, this is mostly due to the extensive amount of resources used in the e-reader’s production and is not to suggest the sole act of digital reading, whether it be a downloadable PDF or audiobook, is inferior in itself.
Ultimately, it would be best if we all borrowed books and magazines from our local libraries (ideally, one within walking distance) and read only beneath the beacon of natural light. Or perhaps the return of verbal tales passed on from person to person. But, the latter is clearly inefficient as a means of documentation. The former, meanwhile, remains optimal but, regarding the production of new books, it is doubtful we should find publishers keen to limit their output of product, so as to manufacture just enough books to be shared in libraries countrywide.
To find available magazines printed on recycled paper, you can consult the list of Better Paper participants.
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