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

Shape , Mother Jones, and Other Magazines “Plant” Trees for Arbor Day

Magazine Industry Sustainability Leaders Save Trees By Using Recycled Paper

April 26, 2005

Washington D.C. – This Arbor Day, while many citizens plant trees to beautify their communities, the magazine industry will finish another month of consuming about 2.5 million trees. However, a small and growing number of leading magazine publishers are making sure that 2,789 trees stay planted each month simply by choosing paper made from recycled consumer waste.

“A tree saved is a tree planted,” noted Frank Locantore, Director of the PAPER Project at the nonprofit organization Co-op America. “By printing on postconsumer recycled paper, publishers are not only protecting trees but are also ensuring that other parts of the environment and public health are protected. The publishers’ paper choice is a move towards sustainable production as it reduces greenhouse gases that are warming the planet, preserves living space for wildlife and human beings, and conserves energy and water for other uses.” Postconsumer recycled paper is made from materials that a consumer recycled, as opposed to materials that a manufacturer recycled, such as scraps from the manufacturing process.

“Virgin” paper production consumes vast amounts of resources and emits enormous amounts of harmful pollutants, as described in a white paper entitled Turning the Page available on the Co-op America website. In addition to the 2,789 trees saved each month, the 17 magazines participating in our recycled paper usage survey also prevented emission of over 450 thousand pounds of greenhouse gases and conserved 108 million BTUs of energy and one million gallons of water. These numbers are the outputs of a paper calculator created by Environmental Defense, a nonprofit organization headquartered in New York City.

Publishers who decide to reduce the destructive effects of magazine paper production are asking their suppliers for recycled paper—many paper mills have the ability to use postconsumer content upon demand. While E - the Environmental Magazine and Mother Jones have been using postconsumer recycled paper for years, others such as Ms., Shape, and Salon are recent converts.

The award-winning photography in the National Audubon Society's magazine, published on 17% postconsumer recycled paper, dispels any myth about the print quality of the paper. David Seideman, editor-in-chief of Audubon, says, "We have received eleven awards in the past six years from American Photography and from Communication Arts—I think our award-winning record demonstrates our recycled paper's high performance."

Some magazines have found additional ways to support the environment and public health through publishing decisions. "As a women's magazine, we place tremendous priority on protecting women's health," explains Ms.’s associate publisher, Alicia Daly. “Because dioxin is a by-product of chlorine bleaching and dioxin has been linked to cancer, we wanted to avoid contributing to a problem our readers care so much about.”

Doug Moss, publisher and executive editor of E - the Environmental Magazine, which is printed on 30% postconsumer recycled paper, believes the benefits are clear. "Our forests, the quality of our air and water, and indeed our own health will be much better served by a magazine industry that uses postconsumer recycled paper and cleaner production and whitening processes."

Magazine publishers interested in improving their sustainability bottom line can get information and assistance from the publishers’guide, Different, Not Difficult: How to Make Sustainability Happen, produced last fall by AVEDA, Quad Graphics, the National Wildlife Federation, and Co-op America. The guide offers both the business case and a “how to” for using environmentally preferable papers and production methods. Publishers can download the guide at or call 1-800-58-GREEN to receive a free copy by mail. Publishers can also contact Frank Locantore directly at 1-800-584-7336.

The seventeen publications who participated in our survey are Adbusters, Audubon, Co-op America Quarterly, Defenders, E - the Environmental Magazine, The Herb Companion, Herbs for Health, Home Power, Mother Earth News, Mother Jones, Mothering, Ms., National Wildlife, Nature Conservancy, Ranger Rick, YES!, and Your Big Backyard. The trees saved by the magazine publishers are considered to be a mix of hardwoods and softwoods, with an average height of 40 feet and average diameter of 6-8 inches.

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.

Contact: Frank Locantore, 202-872-5334, or

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