Authors have long been a driving force behind environmental consciousness (think Henry David Thoreau, George Perkins Marsh, Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold), using the power of words and the force of their convictions to broaden awareness and push for change.
As writers, you can get in on the action too! Here’s how…
10 Eco-friendly Practices for Writers
1. Feature environmental themes in your blog or creative writing (short stories, poems, etc.). Write about nature, ecology, conservation, activists who’ve made a difference, or even the butterfly that landed in your backyard.
2. Use your skills to write a compelling letter to local or federal government officials about specific environmental concerns, either in your community or nationwide. You have a special skill; use it for good!
3. Book yourself a writer’s retreat in the mountains, the deep woods—anywhere that will inspire the nature lover in you. (See our listing of conferences and events to get you started.) Or create your own writer’s retreat! Head to your favorite camping site, pitch a tent, rent a cabin, or simply spend the day at the park with a laptop or legal pad.
4. Buy a Nook or Kindle and download books to save paper…and trees.
5. Recycle those ink cartridges (www.freerecycling.com), buy recycled printer paper, and use environmentally friendly inks (www.BarefootPress.com). When possible, print on both sides of the paper.
6. Check out www.EthicalConsumer.org for eco-friendly laptops. Donate your outdated computer to technical schools or companies that refurbish and/or recycle the parts.
7. Submit your writing electronically, and send queries by email. Support online literary magazines and journals by submitting to them regularly and subscribing.
8. Research print magazines and journals that use recycled paper or promote eco-friendly practices, and submit your work to them.
9. If you’re a children’s author, celebrate Earth Day by joining the Authors for Earth Day coalition and take part in literacy programs in local schools to promote environmental awareness (www.authorsforearthday.org).
10. Submit to book publishers that help reduce our carbon footprint. For example, EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing donates a percentage of sales to plant new trees, and Random House started upping their use of recycled paper to save trees and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
From recycling cans to switching to online bills, there are many ways we can be more “green.” And as writers, we can literally spread the environmental word and celebrate nature through our life’s work. We can also help the publishing industry limit its environmental impact by supporting eco-friendly practices and technology.
Happy Earth Day!
QUESTION: What other changes can writers make to conserve and protect our resources?
I love actual books too much to get a Kindle or Nook – but I love the idea of a writing retreat in the woods. What a great way to avoid distractions and enjoy amazing, natural inspiration!
save the trees <3
I agree with Liz; I can’t seem to give up on my love for paperback books. I just recently started submitting my work electronically to literary journals and not only is it a time saver, but a paper saver too <3
It is hard to give up books, so donating books or sharing books is at least recycling them in another way. We have free books outside our library front doors so that people can take books. It’s a great way to share books with people who might otherwise not be able to buy them.
I think it’s important, however, that if a writer is going to write about conservation, etc., he/she MUST educate themselves fully on the subject.
For instance, many people believe ALL fires are bad, but if you truly understand nature, it’s important to realize that fire can be nature’s best friend. We are so anxious to jump on bandwagons, many people make assumptions about what is true/fact, but don’t know the real facts. Another example, for Californians or those in the West re: fire: we have allowed so much dry matter to accumulate in the foothills and mountains that our forests are now tinderboxes, ready to blow up. Both slow/low fires and cattle can impede the heavy overgrowth and keep grasslands and open areas clear of fire-hazard material. But so many average consumers don’t have all the facts — in fact, many in the western states — have erroneously believed that animals and fire are part of the problem. But NOW we have a REAL problem because we’ve eliminated rangeland grazing and all but a few fires (which often get out of hand quickly now!). I live in the mountain-region of the West and we KNOW how devastating the lack of proper fire management is and how the proper management of livestock can and does improve our environment. As a writer, if you want to contribute KNOWLEDGE, then be sure to get all the facts FIRST … we live too much through the rebooting of myths and assumed facts!
This article makes me want to jump in my 8 cylinder Explorer and drive around aimlessly. After I’ve taken a 2 hour shower. Will this political correctness never end? I will not own a Kindle, or a Nook–too hard on the eyes. I love my books and will not stop buying them. I am so tired of hearing about “carbon footprint.” Ridiculous. Despite inconclusive and contradictory meteorological data and the failure of predicted temperature patterns to pan out, global warming and climate change continues to be the mantra of the left, assuming theological proportions.The United States is on track to dramatically cut its carbon emissions without any of the regulatory burdens or tax increases the left is pushing to accomplish this goal. Without cap and trade and without EPA regulation of carbon emissions, we have already cut our greenhouse gas emissions way below 2007 levels.
I meet with a writing group on a weekly basis. We critique work and each member
provides other participants with a copy of the work to be discussed.
This may seem like a small thing, but it is rare for the back side of a piece of paper to be
blank. So, we are all reloading our copiers with paper that has already been printed on one side. Each paper is doing double duty.
Plant renewable trees to sit under, filter our air and water, replenish our wood products resources, build more cabins in the woods, and that house more wildlife, and so much more that we rely on trees for.
I think though that electronic readers are more complicated than a straight forward environmental choice. There’s the carbon footprint of their production for a start and if it takes 50 books (as I’ve heard it does) before you’re reducing your carbon footprint by using an e-reader then you need to read a lot and not buy a new e-reader every year (and I’m guessing that e-readers will become like mobile phones, everyone wanting the latest new model when it comes out). I’d say more environmentally friendly to borrow books from your local library (which needs support anyway!)
Liz, I don’t think we need to apologize:-) for paper books.
Kindles & Nooks save the environment for readers who pace through piles of books and never go to the local library. For average readers, they still take a bit too much energy and resources (to manufacture, distribute, use, and recycle) and are less versatile than large phones or “phoblets”. Also, some of their busines practices are a bit Orwell-1984 intrusive: Monitoring which pages you’re reading, which words you underline, etc…
– this post is written in LED light only (zone GMT +1 = already dark,) using water power.