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Green Metropolis - Bookselling and the Green Revolution

Aug 10, 2008
Literature and storytelling have been at the heart of culture for hundreds of years. Before the printing press it flourished orally, passing through communities and generations in the recesses of memory. It was adapted by each teller, and recorded according to their preferences as they retold it to their audiences. Oral masterpieces - Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, the anonymously written Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - were never recorded in definitive versions by their authors. As time and technique drove on, forms of printing were established, so that authors could record their work. Generally speaking, the earliest forms of production was woodblock printing, which dates back to 220AD. The earliest surviving forms can be found in China, with similar types from Egypt. In Europe, block printing was common practice by 1300.

Even during early modern history, then, literature and storytelling can be seen as synonymous with the destruction of habitats; every piece that was block printed required wood for the process. But this reached a larger scale in the European industrial revolutions, when mass printing - similar to the forms in which we know it today - required the pulp of vast numbers of trees as demand for printing increased. To this day, then, the mass production of printed literature means the mass pulping of the world's natural habitats. It is becoming apparent that the world of literature - from its readers and writers, through to its producers and distributors - needs to offset this trend; as the world becomes more concious of its environment, so the book world must, too. One website, named 'Green Metropolis', has been leading the field for a number of years.

There caption, "Where Books Grow Trees" is a perfect encapsulation of the problem and solution: to offset the production of books with the recycling of old ones. They have also made the endeavour commercially viable; each and every book that is sold through the website costs just 3.75, and postage and packing is free. It means that it can attract customers looking for a bargain, before connecting them to the cause.

They also buy used books for 3.00, meaning that they make a margin of profit, whilst keeping a circulation of books recycling amongst the websites members.

And their commitment grows stronger, as the website outlines:

"By recycling used books not only are we saving existing trees, we're actually planting new ones. How? GreenMetropolis.com donates 5p for every book sold to the 'Tree For All' campaign run by the Woodland Trust." The Woodland Trust - endorsed, as outlined above, by Green Metropolis - is dedicated to the conservation and preservation of the UK's native woodland. It has four main aims: 1) No further loss of ancient woodland. 2) Improving the biodiversity of our woodlands. 3) Increasing and restoring native woodlands. 4) Increasing people's awareness and enjoyment of woodland. Green Metropolis, along with its compulsory donation of 5p for every book sold, encourages its members to donate too, from the books they sell to the website. So they keep a constant circulation of used books away from the litter bins, and invest in the growth of new habitats. It is a website then, that encourages community and an active role in the environmental protection of the UK. Buy a Book. Plant a Tree.
About the Author
Chris Woolfrey is the Green Revolution expert at EcoSwitch The environmental social network.
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