Protest on National Mall: “Practice What You Print” Campaign Pushes Smithsonian Magazine to Use Recycled Paper


Green America Calls On Magazine to Spare Tens of Thousands of Trees a Year by Switching to Recycled Paper; Seed-Paper Fliers to Be Distributed During Mall Action.

WASHINGTON, DC – October 25, 2016 – Green America rallied today on the National Mall to raise awareness of its "Practice What You Print" campaign. The organization is calling on Smithsonian to move its magazine to recycled-content paper in order to save impacted forests and reduce landfill waste. The campaign looks to build on its success persuading National Geographic to begin printing on recycled-content paper in 2014, and its success in helping over 200 publications move to recycled fiber papers. 

Campaigners today greeted guests to the Natural History Museum, facing the historic Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall, from 11:00 AM-1:00 PM. A banner featuring a photo of the National Mall devoid of trees was displayed, highlighting the impacts that Smithsonian Magazine has on the environment by not using recycled paper. Green America collected signatures for their petition to be delivered to Smithsonian's headquarters, asking the institution to live up to its environmental commitments by using recycled paper for its flagship publication. Green America also distributed fliers with campaign details printed on seed paper, which can be planted to grow into non-invasive pollinator-friendly wildflowers.

Photos from the rally can be found here:

The campaign calls on Smithsonian Magazine to transition to better paper, starting with 30 percent recycled content paper by 2017. For the remainder of its fiber, the campaign urges Smithsonian to use only virgin paper fiber from sustainably-managed Forest Stewardship Council certified forests. More on the campaign’s goals here:  

“Smithsonian has made symbolic commitments to sustainability, but when it comes to producing its magazines, the organization is falling short,” said Beth Porter, director of Green America's Better Paper Project. "We want to raise awareness that a leader in the publishing industry is not practicing what it prints, and we did that today in Smithsonian's front yard on the National Mall."

Smithsonian requires almost 65,000 trees for its 19 million magazine copies every year. By incorporating just 30% of recycled paper into its production, Smithsonian would:

  • Lower its annual wood use by the equivalent of more than 19,000 trees.
  • Reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2 million pounds of carbon dioxide each year.
  • Lower its annual water consumption by about 14 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
  • Keep 354 tons of solid waste from going to the landfill each year, reducing methane emissions. (When paper ends up in a landfill the decomposition of that paper produces methane, which has over 20 times the heat trapping power of carbon dioxide, according to the EPA.)

"Hundreds of magazines already print on recycled paper, and readers are increasingly concerned about sustainability," said Todd Larsen, co-executive director on Consumer Engagement for Green America. “With a switch to readily available 30 percent recycled fiber paper, Smithsonian could be keeping 19,000 trees in the ground and 2 million pounds of CO2 out of the air every year.”

A transition at Smithsonian Magazine to recycled paper would initiate the conversation within Time Inc. to move more of its publications to recycled paper. Smithsonian Magazine acquires its paper through a partnership with Time Inc., which publishes 90 magazines, producing hundreds of millions of copies every month, all using virgin fiber paper.

Consumers interested in supporting the campaign to move Smithsonian to recycled paper can sign the petition here:

Green America is the nation's leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America (formerly Co-op America) provides economic strategies and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today's social and environmental problems.

Green America’s Better Paper Project has 15 years of experience guiding publishers to more sustainable paper choices for magazines. This goal of increasing the demand for recycled paper offers huge relief to endangered forest areas, curbs the publishing industry's climate change impacts, and lessens pollution of nearby communities through new paper production.

MEDIA CONTACTMax Karlin, (703) 276-3255, or

Environmental impact estimates were made using the Environmental Paper Network Paper Calculator Version 3.2.1. For more information visit