Here’s How You Make an Eco-Friendly Book
Author- Anjali Roongta
Consumer awareness of environmental sustainability is increasing. This is forcing industries all over the world to promote their products as “green”. Are you a publisher who’s scared that unless they are able to make their company more sustainable, writers will abandon them?
Well, stop catastrophizing. There is a solution. Make eco-friendly and sustainable books. How you ask? Well, read on.
The pulp and paper industry is responsible for deforestation, an increase in waste, and the contamination of waterways. It also contributes to at least 2% of global carbon emissions. It reached a historic high in 2021. Hence, consumers are rallying. Thus, now, print-on-demand technologies and recycled paper are everywhere in publishing. Supply chains are under scrutiny too. Readers and authors demand eco-friendly books.
At Muses_ Saga, environmental sustainability is of paramount importance. We have introduced several practices to make our books both affordable and sustainable. With this blog, we extend that knowledge to other publishers on how to increase eco-friendly practices in their businesses.
Provide Print-on-Demand Services:
PoD reduces the number of unwanted books printed. Unwanted books often end up in landfills. Or worse they remain unread on bookshelves until they are torn and pulped. Not only is this disrespectful to books, but it is also wasteful. Hence, do the planet a favor and only print books that are sure to find a home. Publishers that are committed to PoD services include NotionPress and Muses_Saga.
Petroleum-based inks are bad for the planet and human health. Our research and work with industry professionals show that at the moment it is not truly possible to make a small number of books using eco-inks. However, it is not impossible either. This is especially true for publishers who print large orders of books. Tara Books uses eco-inks.
Having sustainable supply chains:
From ethical and eco-friendly sourcing of paper and ink to a sustainable delivery system, a sustainable supply chain is an invaluable part of making an eco-friendly company. Having printers in multiple cities, as NotionPress does, can reduce the emissions from transportation too.
Not using plastic for lamination or packaging:
Reducing the use of plastic, especially new plastic or single-use plastic, is an important step in reducing plastic pollution. Therefore, water-based tape, paper packaging, and re-used or reusable and recyclable packaging are all good ideas. A cover made of a durable and recyclable material is a great option too.
Encouraging recycling and repurposing of books:
This reduces the environmental impact of disposal. However, it is better to donate or re-sell the books. As a publisher, you can also donate unsold copies of books to libraries.
Climate Fiction is an emerging genre. Thus, publishing fiction and non-fiction work around themes of climate change could be a smart move. It can spread awareness and build a profitable brand image.
Use a digital proofing process:
Before printing, use a digital proofing process to catch any errors and make the required changes. This can help reduce the need for multiple print runs which in turn reduces waste.
Encourage readers and writers to buy sustainable books:
We will cover more on this in our next blog on financing sustainable books, but you can encourage readers and writers to make more sustainable choices by personalizing sustainable books and providing certifications or labels to show they are sustainable.
Choose a sustainable printer:
Look for a printer that uses eco-friendly practices such as vegetable-based inks, recycled paper, or energy-efficient equipment.
Use recycled, sustainably sourced, tree-free, or reused paper:
Many publishers are now using sustainably sourced FSC-certified paper. Others are committing to using a portion of recycled paper. Muses_Saga uses 100% recycled paper but there are other options too such as BlueCat’s sustainable handmade tree-free paper. Keep in mind though, that printing on handmade paper can be difficult.
Use Chlorine-Free Paper:
While aesthetics are important, they are not more important than human health. Thus using chlorine-free paper is a good way to go. Where is chlorine used in paper you ask? For bleaching them white of course.
A Parting Note
Remember, being sustainable increases the chances of your publishing business doing better in the long term. And thus, to survive as a small upcoming publishing house, you need to cater to the demands of readers and writers. One such demand is eco-friendliness.
Are the ways we mentioned the only ways to create a sustainable publishing house? No. These are the ways you can create an eco-friendly publishing house. Financial and social sustainability is yet to be seen. To learn more about those aspects of sustainable publishing, and the how to battle challenges faced by publishers trying to go green return next week for our blog.