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The Greening of Greenleaf

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Being green is getting more and more important these days. Lucky for me, "Green" is kind of a family trait. However, is my company green in name only?

Authors are paying close attention to the impact their book production is having on the world, and asking whether or not it's possible for us to be green. The very process of creating and selling books is the opposite of green. Books need paper, paper needs trees, and cutting down trees to make paper is tough to sell as "conservation," (even if it's for a book about conservation'¶ maybe especially if it's for a book about conservation). Books are shipped all over the world (carbon isn't very green) in boxes with air packets and foam peanuts (I don't even need to explain how bad these are).

So, how can Greenleaf Book Group ensure we are being a good steward to the planet, while still serving the needs of our industry? And what are some quick ways any company can do their part to go green? Most importantly, how can it be done without spending a ton of money?

- Perhaps the biggest way we green ourselves up is by partnering with Tree Neutral. I launched this initiative last year to help us plant as many trees as we consume each quarter in the printing of our authors' books. Companies in any industry are partnering with TreeNeutral to offset their paper usage, and it only costs about $0.06 to plant enough of a tree to replace a ream of copy paper.

- Speaking of, using both sides of a piece of paper is a pretty easy one. We put bins by each of our networked printers (also a nice way to save energy, paper, and cost) where people can drop off and pick up paper that has been printed on already to re-use for internal needs (It's cheaper and greener). We collect the paper that's been used on both sides and mix it with catalogs and other paper we recycle on a regular basis.

- Authors are asking about e-books more and more, which use no paper and have no shipping costs or carbon. Right now, e-books only represent about 2 percent of the book industry, but their popularity is growing tremendously each year. We have positioned our company to be at the forefront of this growth, and are prepared to help our authors move down that path as needed.

- During company meetings, we try to use a projector whenever possible. People are encouraged to bring their laptops to meetings in order to save printouts, and we have found that even the potential distraction of e-mail (or Twitter) does not hinder the flow of the meetings.

- Don't forget the granddaddy of the green movement -- a recycling container. We provide free cans of soda in the office for staff. Right next to the fridge is a recycling container and it gets all sorts of recyclable materials (plastic, tin cans, soda cans, etc.). Each month, an employee takes the boxes and takes care of recycling them.

- My last bit of greenery is to remind you not to overlook the small things. We have a special desk lamp that rotates between employees each month as part of an award for outstanding service. We made sure to outfit it with a low-energy bulb (of course).

With some simple steps, every office can green-up. It's not a political or fringe thing anymore -- it translates into real money and it's the right thing to do.

So what are some ways your office has been able to be a bit greener?

Last updated: Mar 13, 2009




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