Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

Elle Uses Recycled Paper Just for Their "Green" Issue
April 20, 2006

... And Shape, E, Ms., Mothering, Utne and others use it for EVERY Issue

Washington, DC – Timed to coincide with Earth Day, high profile magazines ELLE and Vanity Fair have each released a special “green” issue. Though “green news” is not unusual in April, this development may indeed precede a significant shift toward environmentally responsible magazine publishing since ELLE will be printed on recycled paper for this one issue. In doing so, ELLE follows the path forged by dozens of other magazines that have been using recycled paper for years.

ELLE’s “green issue” is printed on ten-percent post-consumer recycled paper, which means that it is paper that has been used by a consumer, then recycled and made into new paper. For many magazines, using recycled paper is not merely a new trend, but an enduring commitment. Publications like Ms., Mother Earth News, E/The Environmental Magazine, Mother Jones and Utne have all used substantial amounts of recycled paper for years. And Plenty, a recently launched magazine, is printed on 30% post-consumer recycled paper.

But recycled paper is not just for smaller publications with an environmental or social agenda.

Larger, mass appeal publications have also made a commitment to recycled paper. Shape magazine with a circulation of over 1.6 million copies per month has committed to using recycled paper in every issue. “Magazines like Shape, Natural Health, and many others show that they are truly serious about environmentally responsible publishing by using recycled paper for every issue,” said Diane Newman, Senior Vice President and Group Publisher at American Media Inc., publisher of Shape. “We have made a commitment to sustainable publishing and use at least 30% post-consumer recycled paper – and we can maintain this practice because we’ve built support from our readers, advertisers, and within our corporate operations.”  

E/The Environmental Magazine was one of the first magazines to use recycled paper for every issue beginning in 1990 when they first launched. Doug Moss, the founder and publisher explains that they have not just worked hard to use recycled paper, but they’ve spent a lot of money to help create a market for recycled paper. “For years, the magazine industry has shirked its responsibility to be good stewards of our environment and human health,” says Moss. “If our relatively small circulation magazine can make using recycled paper work for 17 years, then ELLE and Vanity Fair can use their substantial purchasing power to increase the market for recycled papers.” 

And it looks like recycled paper might be catching on.

There is growing support from advertisers and consumers for magazines that use recycled paper. Aveda, a body and health care products company, has been urging magazines like ELLE to begin using recycled paper. In fact, they sponsored an industry-wide award for publications that show environmental leadership in magazine production. The first such award was presented at the Folio: Show’s Awards Banquet in November 2005 to Natural Health, Utne, and Sustainable Industries Journal.

In addition to support from advertisers, the public backs magazines’ use of recycled paper, too. In December 2005, Co-op America, the Green Press Initiative, and Publishing Executive magazine, released poll results showing that nearly 80% of consumers would pay more for books and magazines printed on recycled paper. “Environmentally responsible paper doesn’t always cost more,” says Frank Locantore, Director of Co-op America’s Magazine PAPER Project. Locantore works to assist publishers’ efforts to use environmentally responsible papers. “But, if the costs are higher, our recent poll shows that consumers are willing to help offset those costs.”

The cost to the environment is significant in the current magazine paper use paradigm. According to Environmental Defense’s Paper Calculator, if ELLE made the recycled paper switch permanent, the annual environmental savings would be approximately 12,000 trees, the energy of 72 homes, and the amount of water that would fill six Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Dozens of magazines have had success with using environmentally responsible paper demonstrating the possibility for magazines like ELLE and others to use recycled paper in every issue. “Smaller circulation magazines have shown the sustainable direction for the rest of the industry,” said Locantore. “The key next step is to have more large publishing houses take note and follow that lead. Unlike the ‘speedboat’ abilities of smaller publishers, the large publishing houses are more like cruise ships that take a while to change direction, but when they do their wake can be huge.”

Co-op America at is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1982 and based in Washington, DC. Co-op America's mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society.

For More Information, Contact: Frank Locantore, Magazine PAPER Project Director, Co-op America: (303) 454-3360

Magazines Printed on Environmentally Responsible Paper:

AMC Outdoors
Bay Nature
Body and Soul
Chicago Wilderness Magazine
Conscious Choice
Co-op America Quarterly
Defenders (of Wildlife)
Delicious Living
E/The Environmental Magazine
Earth First Journal
Earth Island Journal
Environmental Design and Construction
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Grassroots Fundraising Journal
Herbal Gram
Herbs for Health
Heron Dance
Home Power
Imaging Notes
In These Times
Ministry and Liturgy
Mother Earth News
Mother Jones
Mountain Astrologer
Ms Magazine
National Parks
National Wildlife
Natural Health
Natural Home and Garden
Nutrition Industry Executive
Organic Products Retailer
Ranger Rick
Renaissance Magazine
Sustainable Industries Journal
The Ecologist
The Green Guide
The Herb Companion
The Nation
The Nature Conservancy
The Polishing Stone
The Progressive
The Surfer's Path
Watershed Sentinel
What is Enlightenment
Whole Earth
Wild Animal Baby
Wildlife North Carolina
World Ark
World Watch
Yes! Magazine
Yoga Journal
Your Big Backyard

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