Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

Kate Douglas kindly notified me that today is Blog Action Day, a day when as many blogs as possible will be writing and talking about the environment in their own way. My plan is not to talk on a grand scale about the environment, but to talk about those things that we can do and maybe should be doing in an industry that cuts down so many trees. Okay, we don't actually cut down trees, but we do use a whole lot of paper.

BookEnds has already made some strides this year in going green by changing our submission policy, but is there more we can do? Yes. I'll admit it. I have a really bad habit of not turning off all of my machines before I leave the office for the day. So I'm making a sign. A nice, pretty sign that reminds me to not just shut down everything and turn off the printer, etc., but to flip the switch at the source. I'm going to shut down the entire surge protector at the end of each day. It's so easy, so simple, and yes, it will save energy. I've also been gradually changing to energy-saving lightbulbs. You know. Those lovely fluorescents. While they don't do much for my skin tone they are saving the world one step at a time, and heck, they save me money too. What a bonus!

But back to that paper. Is there more we can do? I think the publishing world as a whole could make more of an effort to green up. In other words, more editing can and should be done on the computer, if possible. Some houses do this already—all of the Dummies and Idiot's Guides are edited onscreen. But that's it. Almost everyone else still uses the old-fashioned manuscript, and you know what? I don't blame them. It's going to be a hard change to make for everyone because, honestly, I read things differently onscreen and definitely catch more things when it's written on paper. Recycling helps. Most publishers actively recycle paper (and we do too of course), but using recycled paper in books would help a lot.

I think that major strides toward saving the environment can be done if we all start small. So my call to you is let's start simply by turning off our machines. Make sure your computer goes to sleep when you're away and make sure everything is shut down when you're not there at all. Once we have that mastered we can all try to figure out how we can save more paper.



Angelle Trieste said...

I also do double-sided printing for drafts that I'm editing. I seem to be saving a lot of paper that way. :)

Anonymous said...

Earlier this year, I also started turning off everything at the source. I had seen a woman on Oprah who talked about the enormous energy we use by keeping things running even when they're not in use; i.e., the computers, the coffee pot, the microwave, the various TVs, VCRs, DVD players, stereos throughout the house; pretty much anything that had any kind of buttons lighting up or had a clock which was pretty much everything (ha). I switched over to power strips on everything, I think she called them "Smart Strips," but they looked just like any other power strip in my house. (If I'm wrong, feel free to enlighten me.) Anyway, I have all the electronics on the strips so that I can toggle the strip off and everything is off, and the others like the microwave and coffeepot, I just unplug.
Also, like you, angelle trieste, I use both sides of paper for my drafts.
But going paperless with a manuscript? Nah. I sure like the feel of that manuscript in my hands. :-)


Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

More houses use onscreen editing than you suspect, Jessica. Only two of my clients—major houses located in Manhattan—still use hard-copy mss., and even one of those sends out some mss. for onscreen editing.

The other half of my workload is ESL (English as a second language) editing of medical-journal articles for authors outside the United States. Every last one of them is quite used to reviewing my edits onscreen rather than on paper. Nearly all U.S. medical journals accept author submissions only online—no paper is involved.

It's not as hard to get used to onscreen editing as you might think. I've been editing onscreen for several years, and I now prefer it to hard-copy editing. Computers make it so much easier to automate the boring, repetitive tasks, such as coding for the typesetter (marking heading levels, extracts, etc.) and making global changes. This lets the editor and copyeditor focus on the meat of the job—editing. And mss. edited onscreen are so much neater than those edited on paper. There's no having to decipher the copyeditor's, in-house editor's, or author's handwriting.

Anonymous said...

Jessica - I would urge you NOT to turn off your surge protector at night. Unless you want to risk losing your hard drive and everything on it. My husband and I run a small computer business and many, many times have heard the tale of woe from people who didn't know that lightning can strike when you least expect it. It doesn't have to be raining and thundering outside. It can come through any outlet, including the telephone line. Forget the green on this one, because you'll be seeing red when you can't power up in the morning. Really.

Bernita said...

I re-use paper by using the blank side for scratch notes.
I don't like waste.

Chumplet said...

Lots of appliances run on clocks, so be prepared to ignore the twelve o'clock flash or reset them every morning.

Some Mac computers have little internal batteries to keep the computer at the right date and time. Ours at work reset themselves to 1904 every time there's a power outage and the date-sensitive database would go all screwy. The batteries should be kept up to date.

If you have hard wired smoke detectors they'd better not shut down with the main breaker.

Using my little laptop instead of a desktop certainly saves energy. I don't print out my manuscript until the final countdown.

It's a constant battle getting the kids to turn stuff off when they leave the room. At least we replaced every standard bulb with an energy saver bulb.

Anonymous said...

We are lucky enough to live in an area that encourages recycling in a big way. One day per week, we put out our recycling cans, which are the size of a large trash bin. After we made a concerted effort to do more, we ended up with two bins, and only one trash bin.
Junk mail, newspapers, cardboard boxes (including cereal boxes and the like), food containers, really any sort of paper or recyclable plastic, can or glass can go in there. We examine everything before we trash it. It's amazing how much can be done if we want to.

stephanie said...

Check out this nonprofit:

Their mission is to help raise environmental awareness in the book industry and to help authors and publishers make better choices.

If you completely unplug your surge protector, then you don't have to worry about surges or wasted energy.

Another big up-and-coming environmental issue (though not related specifically to publishing) is bottled water. I know of some cities that are banning their employees from using bottled water since it's no safer than tap water (and could be more dangerous if you've left your water bottle in the car on a hot day), creates waste, and is often detrimental to the ecosystem wherever it's bottled. It's amazing how much bottled water has become part of our culture...I try to carry my own refillable bottle around these days.

April said...

We switched to those flourescent bulbs also and saved so much! I do double-sided printing for editing drafts, but I do as much of it on the computer as I can. I only print it out when I think I'm done and read it again that way. Alas, I am never done...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for pointing that out Susan! I totally agree on that one. Even though I talked of toggling off the electronics at night, I don't toggle my computer strips off either for that very purpose (even though I power down the computers), and I unplug from the wall during T-storms. Thanks for clarifying that! Whoa--no more early a.m. entries for me. ;-P


Erik said...

My hot tip is to save every bit of printable paper that I might otherwise throw out, so that it can be used to print editing drafts.

Even pages that are slightly dog-eared can be fed into a printer if you start from the smoothest edge. Nothing leaves my house/office without being printed on both sides.

I even grab other people's one-sided scrap from time to time to add to my own. The amount I save on paper costs is astounding, and whatever finally leaves the house does so as recycling.

But thanks for dwelling on the small stuff, because it is what does make a difference in the long run! One of my clients is Do It Green, a local group that does education in this area. All of the small stuff does add up over a period of time.

Their bank of articles on the topic is here:

Heather said...

This is a really great post. Thanks for the reminder about how many things we can do to protect our environment. When I learned Al Gore and all those amazing scientists won the Nobel Peace Prize, I got tears in my eyes.

There's so much to do to protect the environment, it can seem overwhelming at times. I even wanted to give up meat recently when I learned how much the emission from livestock contributes to global warming. Alas, I don't yet have the fortitude, so I do small things, such as recycle (especially the baby food containers--I wash out and recycle each and every one I use for my daughter) and practice water and electricity conservation. I've found it's easier to start with small things and build up until it becomes second nature.

I just hope we do enough so that our descendants are thanking us instead of cursing us.

Cam said...

Other ideas on printing: Use low-quality (draft) print setting for drafts (less ink) and reuse old inkjet print cartridges. Places like OfficeMax refill them for much less $ than a new one. If they're too old, you'll get a $3 recycling rebate to put toward refilling another cartridge.

@ Stephanie - I agree on the bottled water. We do the same with refillable bottles.