Every year about 20-million trees are cut down to produce the virgin paper for books sold in the United States alone, according to eco-entrepreneur Raz Godelnik. This is a sobering thought for those of us who can’t leave a bookshop empty-handed.
Godelnik and his partners have come up with a way to help book lovers reduce their environmental footprint a little. Last year they launched a company called Eco-Libris that helps people plant a tree for every book they read.
Their plan was to raise awareness to the destructive environmental impacts of using paper for the production of books and provide people with an affordable and easy way to do something about it, Godelnik said. “We strive for a world where reading books doesn’t contribute to deforestation and global warming. Planting trees is just the first step towards the day the book publishing industry will be truly sustainable.”
How it works is that you go to the the Eco-Libris website where you select the number of books you want to offset by planting trees. Five books is the miminum number and this will cost $5 (abut R40) to offset. For each book offset, 1.3 trees will be planted, the company says. You’ll then receive a sticker from Eco-Libris – made of recycled paper – for every book balanced out, saying “One Tree was Planted for this Book,” which you can display on the books’ sleeves.
The company isn’t just catering for people living in the US, you’ll get your stickers posted to you wherever in the world you are, the website says. Book clubs, book shops, publishers and authors are also encouraged to join.
Eco-Libris has partnered with three nonprofit organisations working with local communities in developing countries – one of which is in Malawi, the other two operate in Latin America – where the trees will be planted. The company’s goal is to restore half a million trees to these regions by the end of 2008. By March they had “balanced out” 24,000 books, which equated to more than 31,500 trees, according to the website.
Godelnik said that eventually books will be made from recycled paper or other eco-friendly materials and logging for paper will stop. “On that day we’ll happily move on to a new cause.”