Fit to print

This week’s editorial finds us at the Telegraph with something weighing
heavily on our hearts. As much as we were saddened by the recent departure of Bob Hope, there is something of even more grave concern bothering us. Something that strikes at the very core of our being.

See, as well meaning as we try to be, it was recently brought to our attention that not everyone out there is so fond of our endeavors. That’s right. Like oil tanker drivers, seal pup hunters and rain forest loggers, we have become the target of environmentalists. And it’s all because innocent trees were killed to produce this paper. OK, maybe that’s not exactly true. It would be more correct to say innocent trees were killed to make the paper that was used to make this paper, but you get the gist.

There, we said it.

It’s not that we thought you wouldn’t notice the correlation between us and the tree thing eventually. We just thought you’d rather hear it from us first. The decision to come clean was arrived at when, in doing research on a local music festival for a story (appearing in our paper curiously enough), we came across the embarrassing fact that this festival was a means to raise awareness for the wastefulness of the newspaper industry. The group isn’t against newspapers per se, just papers that print more than they need. As a result, it’s pushing for legislation that would require news organizations to print only as many papers as paid subscribers they have. The paid subscriber is not exactly the best friend of a free distribution weekly.

So in a panicked effort to save our asses, we conveniently left this small factoid out of the festival story (which incidentally we ran since we love irony). I justified the decision based on the reasoning that mentioning this tidbit would only take up more precious space, thus wasting more trees and defeating the group’s noble effort.

OK, I know two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s just that it’s a touchy subject. First there was the threat of the Internet killing us; then there was the suggestion from one of my detractors a few months back that we print on bathroom tissue so our paper had some usefulness. And now this. Dissension in our own ranks. I say this because, although I do partake in the occasional fossil fuel, meat product and leather fashion accessory, for the most part I try to live as ecologically frugally as possible. Those who have frequented our office are probably familiar with my maniacal recycling obsession. All paper goes through the printer at least twice; the bathroom has cloth towels; all manila envelopes are set aside for another go around in the postal system; the newspaper is mocked up on a dry-erase board; there is a bin for recycling cans and bottles (which has been the scene of more than one
stubbed toe); each desk is equipped with a box into which go all forms of paper, from newsprint to the small, annoying slips of recycled paper that we use as a primitive form of interoffice communications; and I like to sit in the dark a lot. I’ve been stockpiling used CDs in hopes that some day I’ll stumble upon a practical re-use for them. Hell, my dog even drinks out of the toilet – doesn’t that count for something? And although I do like to joke that I throw them off the high bridge at the end of the week, we do recycle our returns.

But this doesn’t excuse the fact that, occasionally, one gets way from us. So, in an effort to clear our good name with our environmentally conscientious readers, I would like to reiterate that we are and always have been 100 percent printed on 100 percent recycled newsprint.

In case this isn’t enough, allow me to present some more propaganda, er, I mean facts from the Newspaper Association of America, of which we are not a member, but it sounds official enough, so they must be right:

  • Almost 78 percent of all old newspapers in the United States were recovered and recycled in 2001, representing more than 9 million tons out of a total supply of about 11 million tons.
  • The average amount of recycled fiber in newsprint used by U.S. newspapers and other newsprint consumers has increased from 10 percent in 1989 to more than 28 percent today.
  • Market forces also have recycled newspapers into cereal boxes, egg cartons, pencil barrels, grocery bags, cellulose insulation materials, tissue paper, bedding for farm animals, kitty litter, building materials and many more diverse products.
  • Of the more than 9 million tons of old newspapers recycled in 2001, more than 38 percent was turned into new newsprint; the rest was exported to Canada, primarily for the production of newsprint or recycled into other useful products (see above.)

Also from the folks at the Publisher’s National Environment Bureau
(OK, so they’re Australian, same dif):

  • Newspaper and magazine inks contain vegetable oils from crops
    such as soy or non-hazardous mineral oils which are recycled to make
    great soil conditioners. Farmers seek the dried ink/fiber residue from
    the de-inking process.
  • Only forest thinnings of trees grown for housing and construction
    timber, as well as sawmill waste, is used in newsprint manufacture.
  • De-inking newspapers and recycling the fiber into newsprint uses
    16 percent less energy than making newsprint out of forest thinnings.
  • Old newspapers also can be used to clean windows, line bird
    cages and as garden mulch.

So go ahead, read with confidence, knowing that this paper has barely begun to live its fruitful and purposeful existence. And when you’re done, give it to the guy next to you; wash some windows; wrap up a dead fish; fashion it into a nifty sailor hat; make some origami; or, as mentioned earlier, keep it by the commode. Just remember, we cannot be held liable for any paper cuts.

– Missy Votel




News Index Second Index Opinion Index Classifieds Index Contact Index