How to Be an Environmentally-Conscious Author (And Why It Matters)

Being a self-published author isn’t without some impact on the environment. Books are made of paper, after all. 

In the last 20 years alone, paper consumption in the United States is up 126% which equates to approximately 208 million tons of paper per year.

626,000 tons of that paper is used to print books every year. That’s no small amount of trees. 

As a self-published author, you may wonder how to decrease your impact on the environment and its resources. And while it might feel overwhelming to tackle climate change as an individual, there are plenty of ways you can practice sustainability as an author. 

We know first-hand the struggles of being eco-conscious in an industry filled with paper. That’s why our company is built on sustainability. We balance carbon going into the atmosphere and use post-consumer products. 

Being a more earth-conscious self-published author can be easier than you think. 

Here are 6 simple and effective ways that you can be an environmentally-friendly author this year. 

1. Decrease the Amount of Books You Print 

We’re not completely discouraging printing your book on paper. After all, we’re a book printing company!  

While the lower per book prices of bigger runs of books can be enticing and financially rewarding if you’re able to sell them, ordering more books than you need is a sure way to create waste. 

We’d rather see you sell all of your books, create fans, and come back for a second run of books.  It’s a better business strategy and better for the earth too. 

If you’re unsure about demand for your book, consider running a crowdfunding campaign first. This allows you to  generate demand for your book before it’s even finished.  

With a great response on a platform like Kickstarter, you may even order more books that you originally thought to keep up with demand. 

If you’re looking to do multiple printings of your book, start with a small first-run of copies. That way, you only print more books when you need more, saving paper and energy in the process. 

2. Consider an eBook Launch

It’s a sad truth to self-publishing, but many printed books (even best-sellers) don’t sell as many copies as anticipated. This means extra inventory is often left collecting dust in a warehouse or destroyed. 

Copies that are destroyed or “pulped” as it’s referred to in the industry, are typically dissolved and made into new paper. 

It’s great that we’re recycling all those unsold books. But it still requires a lot of energy to power the warehouses and machinery that move and pulp all those unused books around each year. 

One way to avoid your book adding to the problem is to consider launching it as an eBook first. 

Most readers are turning to electronic and audio books now these days, so you might have just as many downloads as you would have actually selling a paperback. 

In addition to saving precious printing paper, you’ll also be cutting out production, shipping, and other manufacturing costs that take a toll on the environment. 

Ask us about our E-book conversion services! 

3. Choose Your Book Materials Wisely

When you’re going to print, go for materials that are better for the planet. 

At PufferPrint, all our books are printed on 100% Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper stocks, which is a great place to start. 

We also use only non-petroleum, soy-based inks in our offset printers.  Soy based inks are much better for the environment as they emit less volatile organic compounds (VOC).  

Ask yourself if color printing is absolutely necessary, as colorful dies added to ink are also hard to break down naturally. 

4. Change Your Shipping and Packing Methods 

Shipping accounts for 10% of global emissions. It requires moving goods across the world via planes, trains, cars, and ships — all of which emit CO2 and other pollutants into the air we breathe.

When choosing how your books are delivered from our production facility, choose sea shipping over air shipping as it produces far less greenhouse gasses.  Remember, sea-shipping can take 3x as long as air shipping, so planning ahead to have your book ready for your launch can have serious benefits for your book’s carbon footprint. 

As you look into distribution options, make sure to pick a carbon-neutral shipping arrangement. There are many companies that offset CO2 by investing in regenerating damaged ecosystems. 

If you’re doing shipping on your own, cut out unneeded items like packing peanuts (unless they’re biodegradable) and bubble wrap. 

At PufferPrint, all of our book production and shipping is 100% Climate Neutral Certified.  Which means that your books are too!  Ask us if you’d like to include a Climate Neutral Certified label in your book.  When you work with PufferPrint, you’ve earned it. 

5. Advertise How Green Your Book Printing Is

Whichever sustainable book printing methods you choose, be sure to shout your eco-friendly accomplishments from the rooftops (and on the pages of your book!).

Spreading the word about how your book was printed on FSC certified paper or shipped in sustainable fashion is a great way to encourage other authors and publishers to do the same. 

It also can help catch the eye of  readers who are environmentally-conscious. 

It’s never been more important to care about the planet, so showing that you’re doing your part might just encourage readers to become lifelong fans. 

6. Work with Earth-Friendly Book Printing Service

Last but certainly not least, make sure you’re doing business with companies who respect Mother Nature — like PufferPrint!

When you print with us, we’ll put just as much energy and focus into delivering you a beautiful product as we do giving back to the environment. 

PufferPrint is celebrating its second year of being  Climate Neutral Certified! That means we’ve offset both our 2018 and 2019 greenhouse gas emissions, and we’re committed to reducing our carbon footprint in the future in everything we do. 

We’re proud to provide you with printing services that give back to the environment, and we hope you’ll join us in paving the way for a cleaner planet. 

We support global initiatives — from hydropower to forest conservation — to ensure that we remove twice as many toxins from the environment as we’re putting in. 

Every single order is calculated and offset so that you can feel good about what you’re giving to the world. 

Learn more about our awesome Carbon Neutral Certification >

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