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Jan 21, 2012

Sustainable Publishing Strategies for Small Businesses

Sustainable business practices and green business practices are all in rage right now. People have finally realized that their actions are directly responsible for the health of the environment that they live in. As a result, communities and consumers are demanding that companies of all sizes take more responsibility for the impact that they have on the environment. Fortunately, it is easy to reformat most business activities to make them more environmentally friendly and sustainable, including publishing activities.

Publishing and the Environment

Publishing has a number of impacts on the environment. To begin with paper is a product that is made from wood pulp. In order to acquire wood pulp trees have to be chopped and then processed using a variety of chemicals and mechanical processes. Pollutants are created at various points along the paper production process including processing, transportation and manufacturing.

Once paper products have been developed and purchased, the next environmental impact is caused by the inks, binding chemicals and other materials used in the publishing process. Inks are often created with dyes that can cause great harm to the environment, and glues and other chemicals used to treat and bind paper products can not only have a direct impact on the environment, but also lead to air, water and soil contamination.

Finally, published products create waste. Packages for shipping published materials are usually made from either paper or plastic. When these packaging materials are discarded, they not only add content to local landfills but also lead to further environmental degradation. Also, once materials are read or once they are damaged, they are discarded and this creates litter and landfill waste items.

Green Publishing Strategies

Companies that are interested in enhancing the “green-ness” of their publishing activities have a lot of simple options. The first option is to streamline their publishing activities to reduce the volume of hardcopies that are needed. This can be accomplished by digitally publishing items that are normally discarded once they have been read, such as newsletters, flyers, etc. Digital publishing of larger documents that can be downloaded and printed by the user is another option.

In some cases a hardcopy is needed. To reduce the carbon footprint of these necessary hardcopies companies need to focus on the ingredients in their printing process. They can select paper that is recycled or sourced from sustainable lumber operations. By selecting non-toxic, biodegradable inks for their printing processes, companies can take a step in the right direction.

Finally, companies can manage their waste products more aggressively. Here they will replace plastic packaging with biodegradable paper or cellulose materials, reduce the amount of packaging used and recycle their own waste products.

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