Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Does size (and margins) matter? Yes! - Les Wallace offers a way to save trees and money at the same time

Today Eco-Libris blog is hosting Les Wallace, a long-time activist of the U.K. who suggests a creative yet simple idea to reduce the usage of paper (and trees) in books. This way is not only costly but will actually save publishers money..

What Happened to Reduce?

There has been a good deal of effort, often led by authors, in reducing the environmental problems caused by the publishing industry. This has usually involved specifying the use of certain paper in its books i.e. non chlorine bleached, not sourced from old growth forests or is at least partly made from recycled paper.

This is to be welcomed and encouraged, but it has missed the most important and by far the easiest method for reducing the environmental impact of publishing – the actual amount of paper it uses.

Comparing books will show that there is a massive difference in the size of their margins. It is not uncommon to see a book that could reduce its paper use by 10 or 15% plus simply by reducing its margins to a size used by other volumnes.

This saves resources, reduces transport and packaging costs, takes up less shelf space and is more convenient for consumers – less paper same text.. Money saved could be used by publishers to use more recycled fibre, if additional cost is an issue.

A mere 10% reduction in paper use for books in America alone would result save 3 million trees every year just by someone reducing margin size when they are designing layout on a PC! Books should start carrying messages that they have reduced paper use by conscientious design in the same way they don't use fiber from ancient forest or do use recycled paper.

It would be great to see both messages together. We need to raise awareness of this fundamental issue amongst publishers, writers and other readers. Emailing photos of books with excessive margins next to those with sensible ones to publishers will show just how wasteful this practice is - totally unnecessary and a form of over packaging.

Les Wallace has been active in recycling and waste reduction for 19 years, He is a member of Falkirk Friends of the Earth group and a member of Friends of the Earth Scotland's CREW (Communities Reducing Excess Waste) scheme. He worked as an intern at the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Centre (HMDC) in 1992 helping to promote reduce, reuse, recycle issues to school kids and the general public.