Sustainable / environmentally-friendly children's book printing?
October 1, 2022 4:49 PM   Subscribe

I've co-authored a children's picture book having to do with biodiversity loss, and I'm looking for ways to print it that don't make the problem worse. Any recommendations for printing services that at least try to use recycled materials, or otherwise have sustainable practices?

Bonus points for print-on-demand services, since one of the ideas for the project is to allow people to order copies to distribute themselves.
posted by crookedgrin to Media & Arts (3 answers total)
I would have a look in the credits / publishing section of books with a similar ethical.stance to see which printers and papers they work with.

You might need to provide a couple of print on demand services so that customers can select the service most local to them. I did a search for "co2 neutral print on demand recycled paper" and was able to see a couple of Australian based printers straight away.
posted by pipstar at 3:59 AM on October 2, 2022

Best answer: I think this is an interesting question. Our nonprofit publishes books about nature and other topics and distributes them to local schools. We are currently doing print on demand because of the volume of books per title that we are working with for now. This paper looks at carbon footprint of different book options. It is one factor of many to consider, but in this analysis it was actually more carbon intensive to make book-quality recycled paper. (Presumably it is easier and cheaper to make other products out of recycled paper.) Anyhow, for now we are prioritizing cost (within the limited pool of options that are logistically feasible for us) because we want to reach as many people as we can.
posted by snofoam at 12:29 PM on October 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

I don't have a recommendation. A lot depends on how many copies you plan to print/sell, who you're selling to, and where in the world everyone is. Quite a lot of printing is done in China and shipped to the US, in which case the major environmental impact is the transportation, not how the paper is sourced. If you're looking for a run of 500+ copies, work to find someone local.

If it's a picture book, look to pay (even) more because the quality of the paper matters more for color inks and it's difficult to process 100% recycled paper to that point.

And speaking of inks, something to ask when you're talking to printers is what kind of inks they use. Traditionally ink is simply not great. Lots of VOCs, petroleum bases, and heavy metals. But you should be able to find someone printing with soy ink or other plant-based ink.
posted by Ookseer at 2:43 PM on October 2, 2022

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