December 22, 2015

The Greenest Book on the Planet?

The Greenest Book on the Planet?

Printed with vegetable ink on recycled paper, subject to meticulous lean manufacturing tricks and all about sustainability, this book could be the greenest on the planet. Photo Credit:

The Greenman’s Guide to Green Living and Working – it’s a fitting title for what could be the greenest book on the planet.  Made with 100% FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) recycled paper, printed with vegetable ink, offset with enough carbon credits to make the book effectively a carbon sink, and even produced by people who used as little lighting and air conditioning as they could during the process, this guide to leading an eco-friendly lifestyle is as green as it gets.  That it is the greenest book worldwide hasn’t been proven, but so far nothing the authors have heard about comes close.

The carbon footprint of each book is a mere 0.33kg of CO2 equivalent – eight times less than that of the average paperback (2.71 kg).  To get that 0.33kg figure, the entire fabrication, transport and production process was taken into account through a life cycle analysis.  This included big carbon contributors like postproduction right down to the energy used for air conditioners and lights as author Matthias Gelber and his editors and producers worked on the project.  All the color pages were printed on a Heidelberg carbon neutral press, and the book also carries the eco label for books from the local Malaysian Standards body SIRIM.

Exactly 5,000 books were printed in the first round, totaling an emissions equivalent of 1650kg.  To more than make up for these emissions, Gelber purchased four tons of Gold Standard Certified carbon credits from CO2OL, a highly regarded reforestation company.  In this way, the book is actually a carbon sink.

At this point, you may be wondering why Gelber didn’t simply produce an eBook.  Well, it turns out that eReaders like ipads, Kindles and Nooks are on par or less green than paperbacks when the environmental footprint of the reading device is taken into account.  And that, quite frankly, would go against what the author stands for.

The “Greenman” behind the project is environmental ambassador Matthias Gelber.  Travelling throughout his second home country of Malaysia (Germany is his first), Matthias leads environmental projects and speeches on sustainability for large gatherings and corporations.  As you might expect from the man who was once voted “Greenest Person on the Planet,” he’s taken great pains to ensure that his first book stands as an example to aspire to in green living and working.

The message of the book is simple – what difference can you make, in your own life, towards a greener planet?   From water-saving tips to how to build your own green home to how to shift your value system and engage your family in sustainable living, the book explores a holistic perspective on sustainability from an individual who has been living green since his early childhood.

Beyond listing tips, divulging information and explaining the benefits of going green, the book addresses foundational issues to sustainable living like how to motivate towards it, value it and make a lasting life change towards eco-friendliness.  The amount of real-life experience behind the book encompasses a layer of sustainability that some other texts lack.

Touching on many issues, the guide is appropriate for most audiences – a curious businessman could get some great insight into where to start with sustainability, and a green guru could draw from nuanced advice and real-world applicability as told by a fellow practitioner of environmental protection – but the content is especially valuable to cultures in fast-developing countries like Malaysia, which have the capacity to become leaders in sustainability but are struggling to cement it into their economic and social fabric.

“I’ve written this book with the objective of inspiring the masses to start taking eco action in their lives,” says Gelber.  He and his book are aiming high, and in this world of quickly deteriorating ecosystems and break-neck expansion, that’s exactly what they should be doing.

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