Over 30 million trees are cut down each year for use in book publishing in the US alone. This is a big problem as deforestation now inches closer to being the #1 cause of global warming. But what is a tree-friendly book lover to do?
Now a new website Eco Libris lets you "offset" your book purchases by planting a tree for each book you read. The math of course is a little off. According to estimates by the Green Press Initiative, one tree is equal to about 8,300 sheets of paper (8.5 x 11). So if you read 12 novels a year (half a sheet per page double-sided x 400 pages) you are using about 1/5 of a tree.
Nevertheless its a great idea, and Eco Libris makes it easy to do. For $10 you can plant 10 trees with one of the Eco Libris reforestation partners. They plant trees in developing nations that have suffered from deforestation --Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala, and Malawi. A nice photo gallery shows some of the projects currently in place.
In tropical regions, reforestation is proving one of the best ways to restore fertility to the land and water to underground water tables, while sequestering CO2. It also gives villagers a way to increase their food supply and start small, sustainable export businesses. A win-win for everyone.
Eco Libris gives you a sticker for each book you offset, so you can show your tree pride and encourage others to do the same. Of course if you really want to be sustainable you should go to paperless books. Several companies offer textbooks and bestsellers in digital form. Check out iChapters and Cafe Scribe.