7 Easy Ways Writers Can Honor The Earth

Editor’s note: this is a guest post by Lynn Fang of Upcycled Love.

Writing can often seem to transcend earthly boundaries. A writer’s purpose is to convey her inner realm to her reader–philosophical insights dressed in snapshots of sights, sounds, and smells.

But the words themselves are physical–they are spoken, written from pen-to-paper, or finger-to-keyboard. Words cannot transcend earthly boundaries. Notebooks are filled with ink and computers with document data. Books are printed, e-book readers are manufactured, and readers can choose to toss them, give them away, or keep them forevermore.

There are many resources needed to make paper: people, water, trees, air, machinery, and landfills. The paper industry has a history of pollution. It is guilty of deforestation, high water consumption, wastewater contamination, air pollution, and overflowing our landfills with a byproduct called sludge. Computers and e-book readers are not much better: they contribute to ecosystem degradation through hard rock mining of precious metals, and the exploitation of human labor through feeble safety precautions. Printer ink emits particles of questionable toxicity and all writing pens depend on petroleum for plastic.

In honor of Earth Day, let’s engage our awareness of the physical resources needed to weave words into books. What can writers do to reduce their ecological impact?

7 Easy Ways Writers Can Honor The Earth

1. Buy recycled or “tree-free” paper:

2. Or, if you’re a crafty type, recycle your own paper! Here’s a great tutorial on how it’s done.

3. Don’t print, if possible. If you must, print on double-sided recycled paper.

4. Recycle your printer ink and buy recycled cartridges.

5. Don’t buy new books, if possible. Instead, buy used ones or join a “bookswap”:

  • Your local library is an amazing resource. Use it.
  • Check out local used bookstores.
  • Try Abebooks.com for a vast selection of used books
  • Try PaperbackSwap.com for an online bookswap.
  • Start your own bookswap with family, friends, or other writers.

6. If you like writing pen-to-paper, consider buying eco-friendly pens made from recycled wood and plastic.

7. If you’re looking to buy a new laptop, consider one that’s more eco-conscious. Ethical Consumer has a buying guide for eco-friendly laptops.

As a writer, what do you do (or what can you do) to honor the earth today?

Happy Earth Day Everyone!

Lynn Fang is an eco-conscious writer who seeks to uncover humankind’s biological role in the natural world. She writes about conscious living, sustainability, and social change at Upcycled Love. Follow her on Twitter.

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16 comments on “7 Easy Ways Writers Can Honor The Earth

  1. Fantastic ideas! ❤
    Happy Earth Day. =]

  2. Ollin says:

    Thanks Lynn for stopping by! I’ve always wanted to know ways that I can be more conscious of the environment as a writer. I’m passionate about issues like climate change and I’m hoping this will help writers realize that it’s not just about joining a group or going to a protest, although that’s important, too, it’s about being conscious every second of your day at how much you waste.

    If we all take care of our own carbon footprint than we could fix this earth in no time. We could fix climate change all we need is the will!

    Happy Earth Day!

    • Lynn Fang says:

      Thanks for the opportunity, Ollin! I’m so happy to hear your interest in protecting the earth. You’re so right – we could all fix climate change if we just had the will to do so! Happy Earth Day to you too!

  3. Pamela Toler says:

    I understand the logic behind not buying books. I definitely use my public library. However, as an author who wants others to buy my books, I also feel some obligation to buy new books. Just saying.

    • Ollin says:

      That’s a good point Lynn. Is there a way that writers might encourage publishers to only use recycled paper when printing new books?

    • Lynn Fang says:

      That’s a good point. I am not sure exactly how publishing works, but there are many paper presses that use eco-friendly paper and soy and vegetable-based inks, as well as post-consumer recycled content. The Forest Stewardship Council [FSC] has a list of certified printers that are friendly to ancient forests and indigenous peoples. I listed Barefoot Press above and there is also Bacchus Press that print eco-friendly paper products. As for publishing, I’m currently reading a book by Ray Anderson, Confessions of a Radical Industrialist, which talks about his venture into sustainable industry. It is published by St. Martin’s Press and is FSC certified, uses recycled cardboard, and other eco-friendly options. Though looking at their website they make no mention of this option.

      I would say, if you are looking to publish, ask the publisher to work with an eco-friendly press so you can get your book published on FSC-certified or other eco-friendly paper and bind it with recycled materials.

  4. Christina says:

    Thanks for giving us excellent practical ideas and very useful links to help us be more environmentally conscious and friendly:)

    Happy Earth Day!

    By the way, Google’s logo for Earth Day is beautiful.

  5. Maggie says:

    I love this list! Libraries and used bookstores rock! (It’s very rare when I buy brand new books.)

    • Lynn Fang says:

      Thank you, Maggie! I try to buy used books right now, though the commenter above made a good point that as an author she would like people to buy her books. So if you are publishing, try to get an eco-friendly press! Happy Earth Day!

  6. Amy Buchheit says:

    Yay! I’m happy to find that I am doing a decent job already. I belong to PaperbackSwap.com (and have caused other book lovers to join) because frankly, I love books printed on paper. I use recycled printer cartridges (Rapid Refill Ink in Vancouver WA), reuse printed paper as scrap to print on the other side when possible. I recycle recycle recycle when I can’t reuse something, or if it is something that is still in good condition but I just don’t need, I give it to a friend or give it away on Craig’s List (www.craigslist.org) or Freecycle (www.freecycle.org).

    I can see where I can improve … pens, paper … eco-friendly lap top? Wish I had seen this last fall …

    Thanks for the information. Happy Earth Day! 🙂

    • Lynn Fang says:

      Amy, you are awesome! I know what you mean – I definitely love books printed on paper. So happy you found this list useful! Happy Earth Day!

  7. Tammy McLeod says:

    Great list Lynn! I also hang in used book stores. AND, I want to try the paper thing.

    • Lynn Fang says:

      Thanks, Tammy! Sweet, I love used book stores too. Hope you like the eco-friendly paper – after writing this post I went ahead and ordered a bunch of banana paper pads from The Banana Paper Company. =P

Comments are closed.