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Seeing the Forest

8/11/2005 12:00:00 AM


I was in Maui for a family wedding and was unable to blog for a couple weeks. For much of the time we stayed at the Kolealea retreat center in the rainforest, where the road to Hana begins. Surrounded by lush tropical forest, every day we followed a magical path under a canopy of remarkable rose apple trees to our sleeping quarters. We picked guava (of all varieties) for breakfast and avocadoes for dinner salads. It was the most glorious reminder of why we care about saving the rainforest—and all forests.

Ironically, while I was away (and blissfully ignorant of all office goings-on), the good folks back at Natural Home & Garden were debating our paper stock—our most tangible impact the planet’s trees. For the September/October issue, which just hit newsstands, we finally found a 100 percent recycled, chlorine-free paper from Denmark that seemed to meet our exacting production standards. The paper, Cyclus Print from Dalum Papir, has been awarded Germany’s Blue Angel Certificate, which denotes 100 percent recycled stock with no use of optical bleaching agents (it’s whitened with hydrogen peroxide).

I was thrilled with this development; I’ve been begging the powers-that-be here for 100 percent recycled paper for years now. (We’ve been printing on 35 percent recycled paper as we’ve searched for an alternative that would meet our high production standards as well as our budget.) But our keen-eyed designer and other production-oriented types noticed some issues. The photos were a bit darker and grainier than we’d like, lacking the brilliancy we’ve come to expect. (It has to do with the paper’s greater absorbency spreading ink dots and a bunch of other technical stuff.) We’re working on our end to deal with these issues (amid some gnashing of teeth). But I also wonder, as we go about this task of becoming the first high-gloss, upscale design magazine to commit ourselves to 100 percent recycled paper, whether any of you noticed the difference. What matters most, that the paper’s completely recycled or that the photos are brilliant and chromatically true? What are our readers’ priorities in all this?

As for me, I’m willing to spend whatever effort it takes to have it all: high-quality production on the most environmentally friendly paper possible. But of course, I’m fresh off an island vacation and so I’m full of renewed energy and commitment. The good news? Our staff members (who’ve been toiling away in the office all this time) are just as committed. Your input would be the icing on the cake as we press on with that commitment.

Aloha. And more guava for all.

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