by Michael dEstries
Categories: Print.

snipshot_e41ko7neadc7.jpgSpecial green issues of magazines are quickly becoming synonymous with the myriad of other annual themes that make their way into print. What environmentalists are hoping, however, is that the “special” tag gets dropped and mags embrace the message in every issue.

Rolling Stone Magazine is taking their first steps with a July green issue that’s already coming under heat from eco groups. Besides the standard interview with Gore and an article by Robert Kennedy Jr., the largest aspect being harped is that the mag will be printed on “carbon-neutral paper”. Allow us to explain:

Rolling Stone is purchasing the paper from a paper mill in Canada called Catalyst that plants a tree for every one cut down. These trees are then left standing and are not harvested later. So, in effect, the claim is that these trees will help cool the planet and offset the carbon dioxide produced from the paper milling process.

Unfortunately, that’s about as green as the paper gets. The July issue contains absolutely no recycled content; a move that has sparked the ire of several environmental non-profits. Rolling Stone claims that the quality of their publication would suffer since recycled paper does not offer the same treatment for photographs as standard stock. Might they be bluffing? Another publishing company believes so. From the article,

“Mansueto Ventures, which publishes Inc. and Fast Company, announced last week that it had switched both its publications to 100 percent recycled paper and had noticed no slip in quality.

‘It did really used to be true that you would lose quality by switching to recycled, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore,’ John Koten, chief executive and editor in chief of Mansueto, wrote in an e-mail message.”

Personally, I believe it’s a first good start for Rolling Stone on “greening” their operations. They’ve always been great at writing about green initiatives well before other publications and this green issue may just be a toe in the water for feeling out future direction. With so many other magazines taking the plunge, however, let’s hope they decide to start swimming soon.

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

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  • Liz

    Not using 100%pc recycled stock is a cop-out. A number of trade publications are already stepping out with 100% recycled stock or a significant portion of recycled content. To name a few: Environmental Design + Construction; Metropolis; GreenSource.

    These all target the architectural design community, feature beautiful photography, and see it as part of their mission to minimize the environmental impacts of their publications on the environment. Both GreenSource and ED+C publish “eco-audits” describing the savings their paper choices create. ED+C uses New Leaf paper, and GreenSource uses Rolland paper, both 100% pc/pcf papers. One issue of GreenSource, for example, saves 225 mature trees; saves 31,470 pounds of greenhouse emissions; and saves 259 million BTUs of energy and 153,000 gallons of water. And that’s for a relatively small circulation of around 45,000. Imagine the impacts a magazine like Rolling Stone could have by making the commitment to the recycled paper. It’s not just about planting trees to assuage one’s environmental guilt or to greenwash; it’s about figuring out ways to not cut the trees down in the first place.

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