On assignment this week, I began a quest to seek out children’s books printed on recycled and/or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper available in San Francisco. I started off in the kids section of one of the area’s largest booksellers: Borders. Perhaps naively, I posited that it wouldn’t be totally unrealistic to think that I might come across some kind of “Environmentally-friendly kids” shelf. Hey, it’s 2010 and industries are starting to become increasingly eco-conscious, right? My Borders experience unfortunately left me skeptical.
Inquiring with two different employees got me only as far as the limited Science and Nature shelf of the children’s book section. After scanning through related titles, searching for any indication that a book was printed on some form of recycled or FSC-certified paper, I was left with a mere four books that fit the bill. Unsatisfied, I opted to investigate the entire children’s section for any trace of environmental content or forest-friendly paper. There seemed to be no kid’s environmental section to speak of, save for one “Earth Day” display shelf boasting seven or eight titles. Even among these, only about half claimed that they were printed on post-consumer recycled paper.
Using the web as a resource to find rainforest safe books was definitely a bit more profitable – but not without some serious sleuthing of course. I did find success in researching books printed on recycled or FSC certified paper through specific publishers in the industry. Childsake is an extremely informative website that provides lists of over 400 environmentally-focused children’s books. It was here that I finally found substantial success in identifying rainforest safe titles!
Though the process was ultimately victorious, I was certainly disappointed with the difficulty and lack of clarity that came with attempting to find truly rainforest-friendly children’s books. With the substantial strides being made among authors to incorporate environmental ethics into the stories that help shape children’s values, this process made clear the strong need for more follow through within the industry to ensure that an increasing number of books are printed on recycled and FSC certified paper.
Don’t forget to check out the Rainforest Safe Book List for forest-friendly suggestions on children’s book buying this summer!