Can Books Save Our Oceans?

Ocean plastic has been bothering me. It’s been bothering lots of people, obviously, because it’s a really bad thing.

I saw that the new Real Madrid alternative kit is made completely from ocean plastic, and it made me think about ways in which books could be made so that they have less impact on the environment.

Could book covers, for example, be made from ocean plastic rather than cardboard? Is anyone producing ink that uses this kind of waste? How could we produce printed books more sustainably? Can we drift away from traditional manufacturing methods, showing our commitment to environmental stewardship? These aren’t questions to which I have answers, but they do all intrigue me.

josh-withers-534821-unsplash
Photo by Unsplash

Sustainable, environmentally friendly books exist, of course; they’re called ebooks! But that’s not what I’m thinking about. Making print books friendlier to our planet seems like a smart thing to do. Recycled paper is great, but even with that there are concerns about the footprint it leaves. Coming up with a way to make more bits of the book itself from materials that are killing our planet on a daily basis could create a business (and jobs) for people and would make the things we all love that much lovelier.

3D printers can use ocean plastic to make the “ink” they need to create things. In fact, could covers be produced by 3D printers? How cheap and effective is that? There’s printing ink made from car exhaust! Yes, that’s a thing. Could we use that? Hemp used to be the primary source material for making paper. Is that an option we could return to? Is it any better than other paper? Can that ocean plastic be made thin enough that it could be used as a paper replacement?

The marketing and branding return on such an investment is obvious: we’re making books that help clean up our oceans! And I think we’d gain some sales even though, at least to start with, we’d have to increase the price on such books because I’m guessing it would cost more to create plastic covers than it does to create cardboard ones. Would we also gain authors who just have to be published by the most Earth-loving UP on the planet? But that isn’t the main reason to contemplate this kind of sea change (sorry) in the manufacturing of books. If we can help take plastic out of the ocean, that would make everything we do better. And, because we’re talking about books here—a thing that book lovers just hate to part with—, it’s not like we’re going to replace the ocean plastic we remove with the plastic from the books when someone is done reading them!

Lots of questions, few answers here. I’m just pondering what might be possible and in the meantime, putting in place these fifteen ways to reduce my plastic consumption.


 

About the author of this blog post: Martyn Beeny is Marketing and Sales Director of Cornell University Press. He is struggling with the idea that he wrote a blog inspired by Real Madrid. Gooner for Life.

Can Books Save Our Oceans?

It’s 70 Percent of the World, You Might as Well Love It

I grew up on an island, never all that far from the ocean. My dad met my mum because he sailed the ocean as a merchant seaman. He taught me to sail when I was little. I remember standing in the Atlantic Ocean just off Copacabana Beach in Brazil watching a big wave break over my head. I learned to surf in the Pacific Ocean off the Gold Coast of Australia. I skim-boarded the edge of the Atlantic Ocean along Higgins Beach in Portland, Maine, and, more importantly, proposed to my wife there. I’ve sailed in the Mediterranean and the English Channel and the North Sea. I’ve dipped a toe or ten into the Indian Ocean off the coast of Sri Lanka. I’ve been fortunate to touch the oceans and seas of the world from top to bottom. I love the ocean, its incessant sound, both terrifying and peaceful, its swell and fall, its wind, its colors, its life. I love the ocean, but I fear it, too, as any good son of a sailor should.

Happy World Oceans Day

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Recommended read for today:

marine world
Available here

About the author of this blog post: Martyn Beeny is Marketing and Sales Director at Cornell University Press. One day he’s going to live on a sailboat. Until then, I guess he’ll carry on marketing books.

It’s 70 Percent of the World, You Might as Well Love It