What does it really mean to go ”green”? It’s more complicated than you may realize. Environmental impact is hard for any business to measure in meaningful terms, but it’s a particularly fiendish task for print publishers.
As you might have guessed, some very nice trees have to be sacrificed to bring you the print edition of IEEE Spectrum . But that’s hardly the extent of our environmental impact. Logs must be trucked to paper mills, paper mills must be run, inks must be produced, printing presses must be operated. Magazines must be transported to the far corners of the globe. Come to think of it, reporters must be dispatched to the far corners of the globe, too, on fuel-guzzling jumbo jets, to ensure that there are stories worth printing and that they’re not all about one country or one subject.
It’s always good to start the New Year on a positive note, and so we’re happy to announce that beginning with this issue, we’re moving to a more environmentally friendly paper. On the table of contents page, you’ll see our seal of approval from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, one of the organizations that ensure that our paper is harvested from forests that are managed in a sustainable way. It also means that 100 percent of the paper fiber used to make the magazine comes from these sources. We will also continue to explore other ways to lessen our ecological impact in the coming year.
We love magazines and books, and you probably do, too. But the ugly truth is that publishing is a pretty toxic business. Some say that in the United States alone 39 million trees a year are used to make magazines. And then there are the petroleum-based inks and the hard-to-recycle waste by-products and atmospheric pollution that result from putting ink to paper on a press.