There’s a interesting NYT article Saving the Planet, One Book at a Time about the greening of books. Using recycled paper is nice, but to repeatable enough to be truly green. The solution? Plastic!
Paper can be recycled only about three times before it’s no longer high enough quality to use for books; lower quality papers can be recycled about seven times.
Paradoxically, the greenest book on the market may be one made not from paper, but from — the horror! — plastic. In their 2002 environmental manifesto, “Cradle to Cradle,” William McDonough, the green architecture pioneer, and Michael Braungart, a German chemist, argue that traditional recycling just delays the trip to the landfill, and push for developing reusable materials. (Paper can be recycled only about three times before it’s no longer high enough quality to use for books; lower quality papers can be recycled about seven times.) To prove their point, they had the book published on plastic — DuraBook, a patented material developed by Melcher Media, a book packager and publisher in New York that also produced Al Gore’s book. “The medium is the message,” McDonough said in a telephone interview. “The planet is awash in plastic, literally . . . so why not use plastic for books instead of paper?” The book can be melted down and used to make new books or other products, which themselves could be melted down again. “We need plastics. We’re not going to go back to nature,” McDonough said. “We’re not going back to being hunter-gatherers. The best thing is to use them.”
Ah, the many uses of plastic!