▲ Let’s go green with Harry Potter!
Let’s improve cooperation between publishers and readers to green the publishing industry and contribute to the protection of forests and the climate.
This summer the GKU’s monthly Small Is Beautiful and the Korea Publication Ethics Commission began a green publishing campaign to help save forests. The two organizations conducted the campaign during the Fall Reading Festival at the Open Square of the National Museum of Korea from September 24th to 27th, 2009.
When you step into a bookstore, what comes to your mind first? The answer may differ according to whether you are interested in publishing or reading. If you think of books as ‘material’, then you may think about paper and its major ingredient, a tree.
It was only 165 years ago that paper was first made out of pulp from trees. It was at that time that a German weaver invented wood pulp and thus began the era of mass production of paper. Later, the paper industry became a huge equipment industry and is now famous for its high energy consumption. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), it is the third-largest green house gas emitter after the chemical and steel industries.
Bringing change through paper: time to green the publishing industry
Modern citizens, or ‘Homo Papyrus’, consume paper in various ways. As industrialization progresses, global paper consumption continues to rise. The huge demand for paper leads to the cutting down of trees, a major ingredient of paper.
▲ The monthly publication Small Is Beautiful has been printed on recycled paper for 13 years
Then where do most publishers using this virgin pulp get the trees from? The paper which is made through the process of planning, editing, and printing comes mostly from forests in Canada, America, Russia, and Finland. Pulp also comes from ancient forests and rain forests thousands of years old in Indonesia and South America. In the case of Canada, its northern forest, which is being destroyed for pulp, is the largest area of ancient forest left in North America. 45 percent of the forest has been logged to meet the national and international demand for paper. In Russia, at least 50 percent of trees are now being logged illegally.
▲ The monthly publication Small Is Beautiful has been printed on recycled paper for 13 years.
Is it safer to buy paper made from artificially deforested land called ‘tree plantations’? More surprising is the problem of tree plantations which has recently come to light. During the last 15 years huge pulp and paper mills have been built in Sumatra, Indonesia which has the largest area of ancient forest among developing nations. There, rain forest is cleared and burned for eucalyptus which takes about 2 to 3 years to grow into a full-grown tree. Australia and New Zealand are also home to eucalyptus. In a monoculture tree plantation, it is impossible to manage them without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or weed killers. As a result, the forest grown here is vulnerable to diseases, harmful insects and storms, and cannot be called a true ‘forest’ in that it loses 90 percent of its biodiversity so that it cannot maintain ecological circulation. In the face of the climate change crisis, it is natural that book publishers, the front runner of ‘Homo Papyrus’, should be required to be ‘environment-friendly’ and ‘sustainable’. There are various ways to shift from being virgin pulp consumers to forest-keeping publishers. It is high time that every book publisher set at least one guideline to put into practice and tried to find out how to green the process of book publication.
Shifting to recycled paper, ‘climate friendly paper’
▲ Movie star Ji-tae Yoo was featured on the poster aimed at promoting green publishing campaign. The poster, made from 100 percent recycled paper, will be displayed in libraries, schools and bookstores across the nation.
By recycling waste paper, we will avoid destroying the earth’s ancient forests and also address the problem of methane which is generated by landfill sites and is 21 percent more harmful than CO2. One ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees, enough energy to power the average home for 6 months, reduce landfill by 3 cubic meters, save 31,780 liters of water and reduce air pollution by 75 percent
Research shows that one ton of recycled paper uses 43 percent less energy than a ton of paper made from virgin pulp. Recycled paper usually associated with hard times is now the general trend among environmentally-aware countries. You can easily find books or other many printed materials labeled 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper. While there is only a little recycled paper available for a book cover in our country, there is more recycled paper in the body of the book than one might think. Even though post-consumer content varies from one paper manufacturer to another, you can make a difference by using pre- or post- consumer recycled paper. Let us improve cooperation between book publishers and readers to green the publishing industry contributing to the protection of forests and the climate.
“We would never buy paper made from dead bears, otter, salmon and birds, from ruined native cultures, from destroyed species and destroyed lives.” – Margaret Atwood (a Canadian author)
Translated by Sung ChangKwon
Proofread by Simons Chloe Jane
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