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It's Not Easy Being Green
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"Rolling Stone" magazine has announced that it will start printing the magazine on carbon neutral paper from Catalyst Paper, beginning with the June 28 issue.

While intended to be a positive move, the announcement has had a mixed response. Some believe it helps support start-up efforts to develop renewable energy sources and promote eco-ethics. Others say the magazine could do more good by using recycled paper.

Catalyst Paper is based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It has been recognized by World Wildlife Fund International for its efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and its forest management practices. Its carbon neutral paper is so-designated because the company has reduced its greenhouse emissions by 70% compared to the 1990 baseline year of the Kyoto Protocol. The company is offsetting remaining direct emissions by planting trees that will not be harvested to make paper.

Mohawk Fine Papers, which also produces some of its premium papers carbon neutral, explains it this way: “Carbon neutral paper is an emerging international trend to reduce the climate impacts associated with the products and services that we all consume. The carbon emissions associated with a product are quantified and then physically reduced to the greatest possible extent. The remaining carbon emissions are then made neutral with purchased ‘offsets’ that fund emission reduction projects or carbon-free energy projects such as wind farms and solar installations. The carbon offset market allows businesses to recognize and financially support the shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy.”

“Carbon neutral” is even becoming a factor in campaigns for U.S. president. Both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards have announced their campaigns will become carbon neutral. Clinton will achieve that by conserving energy in various ways and using 100% recycled paper. It will calculate its entire carbon footprint and then purchase offsets that support renewable energy development. Edwards will likewise take steps to conserve energy, use recycled paper, and purchase carbon offsets.

Will “carbon neutral” become the ISO 9000 of this decade? Will it evolve from a practice that identifies a few companies as performing at a higher level to become an expected standard of business? Is it a trendy feel-good label companies have begun to sport or a true sign of commitment to an environmental ethic?

Maybe all of the above.

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