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'Green' Issues Fail to Convert Magazines to Recycled Paper

By Dylan Stableford
Vanity Fair Green Issue

Despite a green cultural movement—real or perceived—and a spate of so-called “green issues,” magazines have largely failed to convert to recycled paper.

There are about 100 magazines currently printing on recycled paper, says Frank Locantore, director of the Magazine Paper Project for Co-Op America. Locantore says cost, misconceptions about cost and general ignorance of publishers have contributed to the lack of conversion.

Even a large number of “green issues” aren’t printed on sustainable paper (see: Vanity Fair’s 2006 “green issue” for a case study on just how disappointing not following through can be to the green community), something Locantore says is the ultimate irony. And even when they do, most magazine publishers don’t continue the practice for their non-green issues. Nonetheless, he says, there’s a momentum building for magazines to continue to demand green alternatives from their paper suppliers.

“When we first started looking into using recycled paper, we weren’t exactly impressed,” says Kristine Kern, general manager of Mansueto Ventures. “You could see the garbage—literally, you could see the garbage in the paper.”

Now, Mansueto’s magazines—Fast Company and Inc.—are printed on 100-percent recycled paper that is 85 percent post-consumer waste. And Kern says the company pays less than it would to print on regular paper.

“Price and quality don’t have to be sacrificed to make the switch,” says Locantore.

“We’re always encouraging our readers to make the most of what they already have—to find new uses for things they might otherwise throw away,” says Dale Dougherty, editor and publisher of Make and Craft, which will switch to 30-percent post-consumer recycled paper last month. “So when it comes to recycling—why not take that advice ourselves?”

By Dylan Stableford

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