It’s a paradoxical term: magazines are heavy to transport, and made of trees, and even if they have recycled content, and use soy-based inks, it’s an energy intensive process. The greenest magazine—by far—is, like this one, a web site.
Worst of all, magazine distribution in America is corrupt, inefficient, incompetent, about as new green as the old black. Only 3 or maybe 4 out of every 10 magazines printed are actually every bought. And only say 75% of those are actually read. And of those that are read, only 50% of the material in said issue may be looked at. All in all, the web (while energy-intensive itself) is a blessing to those looking to say adieu, as I have done, to the milling printing shipping reshipping recycling process that is the magazine business.
But, we love magazines. I can’t tell you how many times someone tells me they miss elephant, and haven’t checked out that new-fangled web site thing yet. And I miss it, too—but when it came time to go into Barnes & Noble and Borders, to go big-time—our distribution ratio woulda dropped from 7 our of 10, to 4 out of 10 in one. Fell. Swoop. And, already, we’d dropped from 9 out of 10 distribution efficiency, back when we were a Boulder-local free magazine. It was a big sacrifice—we were making good money as a magazine, and were close to, finally, being able to effect a little cultural change. Now, we’re just another broke web site fighting for viewers. Still, habits are changing, as more and more young and old alike begin their day with a laptop and coffee instead of the paper, say.
Anyways. The Green Issue. Magazines, as guilty as the rest of us, love to feel good about themselves once in awhile. And sometimes, the results are stunning, gorgeous, moving (surprisingly, I found the TIME magazine covers some of the best, below). More often, they’re…well, judge for yourselves.