Magazine editors think a lot about the creative aspects of producing a publication. We choose the stories, work with writers to polish them and collaborate with an art director to illustrate them. We tend to think much less about the raw materials of magazine production, such as paper and ink. As long as the stories and images reproduce well, we’re content to leave those concerns to the printer.
However, the decisions we make about paper and ink affect much more than the look of our magazine. A Vancouver environmental group that advocates for forest preservation and environmentally sound printing practices started hitting that point home with magazine and book publishers a few years ago. The group, Markets Initiative, is now working with Canadian publishers, printers and mills to develop environmentally friendly papers such as those made from post-consumer waste and alternatives to wood fibre.
Since it was founded six years ago, Markets Initiative has convinced almost every major trade book publisher in Canada to print on ancient forest-friendly paper. Inspired by Canadian publishers’ successes, similar programs are now underway in several other countries, such as the U.S., U.K. and Germany.
Recently, the group began recruiting the Canadian magazine industry to its cause – and with good reason. According to statistics supplied by Markets Initiative, less than five per cent of the 110,000 tons of paper used by Canadian magazines each year has any post-consumer recycled content.
This is about to change. Last year, U of T Magazine was one of 35 Canadian magazines that pledged to boost the amount of recycled paper they use. With this issue, we have switched to a paper stock that contains 10 per cent post-consumer waste. However, our goal is to increase the amount of recycled content over time, as new papers are developed, to 50 per cent or more, resulting in annual savings of 60 tons of virgin paper, equivalent to more than 900 trees.
Magazine editors and publishers have been reluctant to switch to recycled paper because of a fear of a loss in quality. Printers are wary because of problems running the new stocks through their presses. We’re confident, though, that the development of better recycled stocks, such as the one we’re now using, will overcome these problems and that we’ll be able to offer our readers an environmentally friendlier magazine, without any reduction in quality.
Our decision is just one of many green initiatives happening at U of T. We reported in our last issue the opening of a rooftop park at the residence at 30 Charles St. W. The University of Toronto at Mississauga is powering several townhomes with non-polluting fuel cells, and in early February, just days before the Kyoto Accord on climate change came into effect, U of T officially opened a new environmental sustainability office. Headed by environmental studies professor Beth Savan, the office will provide support and advice for the development of a greenhouse gas and energy reduction strategy for the university. Watch for a feature article about Canada’s commitments under the Kyoto Accord and U of T’s environmental sustainability office in the next issue of U of T Magazine.