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Seeing Trees Differently – Chronicle Paper Policy 9 Years In

Last week we had the privilege of hosting an event with the Rainforest Action Network to celebrate FSC® day. The event marks an important milestone for Chronicle Books, and a personal achievement for me as well.

RAN has been tireless in their work to highlight the destructive impact that illegal logging has on our environment, and the effect the paper industry has on our endangered forests. Their work both on the ground and within the industry, encouraging companies to think differently, is inspiring and encouraging to all of us.

As the Executive Director of Production and Content Management, my team and I are in charge of production, which includes whom we print with, what we print on, and how the finished books will look. Back in 2004 we set a goal to make our books better for the planet. After much deep thought, innovation, good will, and teamwork I’m proud to announce that today 100% of the paper used in our publishing is from sustainable sources, and 45% is printed on FSC certified paper (Forest Steward Council certification is acknowledged as the leading certification scheme in ensuring the chain of custody from forest to final product) with 100% of our Children’s books in 2013 being printed on FSC. Ta Dah! (Man, that feels good to say.)

To achieve this we’ve had to completely re-organize how we approach making our books and gift titles. We started by narrowing down the number of book sizes we produce, which allowed us to streamline the printing process. There was a time when our designers would choose from over 289 different trim sizes of books—meaning, choosing if they were 8 x 11″, or 6 x 6″, or some other size. We narrowed down the options to far fewer, and focused on choosing papers of high quality that can be used on multiple titles. By doing that we were able to work with only printers who can meet these standards, while lifting the burden of stocking multiple types of paper. This approach felt constricting in the beginning and we worried about limiting our options, but knowing that we were doing the right thing for our planet and for our community was a big motivator.

While the Book Publishing industry overall uses less that 4% of the world pulp resources and therefore are really only a tiny fraction of the raw material usage, in terms of our consumer reach, and in particular our community, what we do has high profile, impact, and perception. These factors, along with a consideration of building a business based on environmental sustainability, is increasingly an important part of our mission. I’m so proud of Chronicle’s achievements so far, and excited to continue our commitment going forward.

Every time I see the FSC logo on a new book, I smile… and I feel glad.

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