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Green Books Campaign: The Kid's Guide to Service Projects

This review is part of the Green Books campaign. Today 100 bloggers are reviewing 100 great books printed in an environmentally friendly way. Our goal is to encourage publishers to get greener and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books. This campaign is organized by Eco-Libris, a a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website.

I love books.  Always have.  There is just nothing like curling up in bed, on the train, or under a tree with a inky, papery, hold-it-in-my-hands and dog-ear the pages book.  The publishing industry, however, is stil an industry and one that has been slow in greening. If you are interested in the nerdy aspects of understanding the actual ecological footprint of the industry I encourage you to read a series published by Eco Libris that examines a report looking at this very question. Some of the findings: PAPER is responsible for the largest part of the book industry’s carbon footprint at a whopping 62.7% for forest and harvest and 22.4% for paper production.  As well as the carbon aspect, paper is sourced from forests all over the world including old-growth and endangered forests!

Though the above site doesn’t go much into this, just as large of an issue as the carbon footrpint and deforestation involved in books, and maybe larger is the impact of dioxins that are a by-product of chlorine bleaching the paper.  Researchers sampling bleached paper products found trace quantities of dioxins remain on the paper products. Large amounts of dioxin is also released into the air and water in the process.  Dioxins are part of a class of chlorinated compounds the EPA considers “one of the potentially most dangerous.” Due in part to the prevalance of paper bleaching, dioxin is now ubiquitous in our environment and found in breast tissue, cord blood, and breast milk. Heavy metals and VOCs in dyes are also an issue and not necessariy resolved by using vegetable dyes.

There are better alternatives in printing, but very few books (even many of my favorite green books) are using them.  Recycled paper, FSC certified paper, non-chlorine bleached paper, and VOC-free inks are just a few ways that publishers can green their books and their industry.

I chose to participate in this project to bring attention to those publishers and those books going the extra step towards greening their industry.  I read “The Kids Guide to Service Projects” by Barbara A. Lewis.  The book, besides being printed on recycled paper containing a minimum of 30% post consumer waste, also was a delightful read about a green subject.

Even though my daughter is only three, every year for her birthday we do a service project. Last year we sent used books to women in prison. This year we are sending school supplies to the Tibetan Children’s Village.  Service being a green ideal in my family, I was eager to read this book to glean how I might keep that spirit alive in her as she gets older. 

The book has great ideas and doesn’t make the mistake of talking down to the kids.  Suggestions are broken down into interests  e.g.: Transportation, Community Development, and The Environment. Suggestions vary from the easy but thoughtful–pick up litter–to the more challenging–“Hold a paint-a-thon to help seniors, low-income residents, and people with disabilities.”  The book then follows up with suggestions on how to implement, background resources for reading, and ideas about institutional contacts.

All-in-all it was a delight to read a book that exemplified its message both in the content and in the book publishing practices themselves.  Take a look: what are you reading?  Did the last green book you read practice what it preached? 

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