The sad truth is that around 10 million of the trees that are killed to create books die in vain each year, because the books end up getting destroyed instead of being read.
"The book industry is hurting the planet through inefficient manufacturing, distribution, and forecasting," said Tom Corson-Knowles, CEO of TCK Publishing, an environmentally friendly book publisher based in Indianapolis. "Part of our responsibility as citizens of the planet is to be aware of when things we love might have unintended consequences."
TCK Publishing is calling on publishers and readers to:
Become aware of the detrimental environmental impact books make on the planet
Discuss the problem and propose solutions
Book Publishing's Environmental Problems
The publishing industry hurts the planet in several ways:
If a bookstore can't sell its copies, it's entitled to request a full refund from the publisher. However, shipping books is expensive. So instead of sending the books back, bookstores often rip the covers off and send only those back to the publisher as proof that the book has been taken out of circulation. Those damaged books are often pulped: ground up, mixed with certain chemicals, and recycled into paper for other uses.
The paper recycling process involves a lot of energy (typically generated from coal, natural gas, or other fossil fuel sources) and also a lot of chemicals like bleaches and solvents meant to break the paper down so that it can be cleaned, processed, and made into new products.
Support Your Local Library: The most sustainable option for the print lover is the library because books are lent out and read many times.
Donate Books You've Read: After you've finished reading a book, consider using a bookstore buy-back program or donating the book to a library or to a charity such as Goodwill that will ensure the books are read and enjoyed again instead of being thrown away.
Print-on-Demand (POD): Instead of printing tens of thousands of copies in the hopes that they'll all sell, then destroying 30-40% of those books, publishers can use POD to print only the books that have sold to customers.
Buy Environmentally Friendly Books: Check books for the Sustainable Forestry Initiative or Forest Stewardship Council statements or logos. Look for a corporate responsibility statement online by searching for "publisher name + corporate responsibility."
Buy Used Books. The resources that went into making a book are maximized when you buy a used book.
The TCK Commitment
"We've made a commitment to reducing our environmental footprint and being good stewards of our planet," said Corson-Knowles. "At TCK Publishing, we believe loving books means loving our planet, too! We publish all our books in digital format and encourage people to download and read on their favorite devices. That reduces the need to create new gadgets and ship them all over the globe."
To protect the environment, TCK Publishing:
Prints books in a more sustainable format, using 30% post-consumer recycled content in most.
All our books are printed using high-quality on-demand digital technology, reducing the ink, electricity, paper, and overall carbon footprint required to produce a book.
Our books are only printed when they're ordered, so we're not destroying millions of books every year because of a miscalculation in ordering or a disappointing book launch.
"We want to preserve and protect this wonderful world we live in," he said.