Thursday, September 13, 2007

Turning Over a New Leaf

Unless you’re George W. Bush, it’s pretty much impossible these days to ignore warnings about the progress of global warming, the imminent demise of the polar bears, and the impact of population increases on the earth’s finite resources. But have you ever thought about how much environmental damage you’re doing, simply by reading books?

Eco-Libris has. And as penance, Eco-Libris -- a service of California-based Redwood Visions Consulting LLC (which apparently strives “to bring high-level Internet business expertise to the world of green and sustainable businesses”) -- wants you to help subsidize the restoration of far-off forest lands. As its Web site explains:
Hey, we know you love books. Who doesn’t? But what about all the trees that are used to produce the paper for these books? About 20 million trees are being cut down EVERY YEAR to produce the books sold in the U.S. alone. What can you do about it? Well, here’s a suggestion: stop reading .. NO, NO. just kiddin’.

A better solution would be to start planting trees for all the books you read. To let you do just that, we thought up Eco-Libris, a means to balance out the paper in your books by planting trees. To maximize your impact, the trees will be planted in developing countries, benefiting both the environment and local communities.

For every book you balance out, we will send you an Eco-Libris sticker to put on your book cover, displaying your commitment to sustainability and perhaps even inspiring others to become more responsible about their use of natural resources (in case you were wondering -- the sticker is made of recycled paper with non-toxic ink ... oh, and the thank you note too, and yeah, even the envelope).
That sounds downright admirable, even if it does cause you to sweat a bit as you walk through the aisles of bookstores, imagining all the forests that have been toppled and pulped for your reading entertainment. Such guilt might actually make you pay the $1 per book per tree that Eco-Libris charges for every sapling it sticks in the ground on your behalf.

But isn’t it a bit off, and seemingly counterproductive that, at the same time as Eco-Libris (which, by the way, is said to translate from the Latin as “from the books”) is encouraging you to fund the planting of trees, it is willing to send you a paper thank-you note in an envelope? Couldn’t that recycled stock have been better used in, say, the printing of more books for you to enjoy?

More information about Eco-Libris’ project is available here.

1 comment:

Raz Godelnik said...

The issue mentioned at the end of the post about the thank you note we mail our customers is actually a non-issue.

Firstly, the thank you note is been sent together with the stickers our customers receive to put on the books they balance out, saying "One tree planted for this book". Everything we send (the sticker, the thank you note, the envelope) is made of recycled paper.

The reason that books are not printed on recycled paper is not because we bought all of it and nothing is left. There is no problem with the supply side as you could see from the enormous number of copies of the last Harry Potter printed on recycled paper.

The problem is with awareness and will to move forward and do the right thing. And that's where we want to get in and become an agent of change, moving the book publishing towards sustainable reading.

Thanks for your support,

Raz Godelnik