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Children's Books Using Paper Linked to Rainforest Destruction

(First posted on Non-Toxic Kids)

We have tons of books in our house. The girls' bookshelves are overflowing with books, literally.  Baby board books, library books (that I usually return LATE), tons of passed along, free books, and gift books. And then there are my books. Let's just say when I got this email about some book publishers using rainforest pulp to make their books, it got my attention. The sad irony here is that many of us are trying to teach environmental responsibility and awareness through books, and some of those very books could be causing rainforest destruction. Here is some information sent to me about this from the Rainforest Action Network, a rainforest safe reading list, and what we can do about this problem.  

America’s children’s books are contributing to the destruction of endangered rainforests in Indonesia, according to a new report released today by Rainforest Action Network (RAN). The report, entitled Turning the Page on Rainforest Destruction; Children’s Books and the Future of Indonesia’s Rainforests, finds that a majority of the top ten U.S. children’s publishers have released at least one children’s book that tested positive for paper fiber linked to the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests, including some books that describe the benefits of rainforest conservation.

“Considering that many publishers have already made public commitments to reduce their environmental footprint, we were surprised by the industry-wide scope of the problem,” said Lafcadio Cortesi of Rainforest Action Network. “We don’t think that kids and their parents want to choose between loving books and protecting the rainforest.”

RAN had 30 colored children’s books tested for fiber associated with deforestation in Indonesia and found that 18 of the 30 books (60 percent) contained controversial fiber. RAN’s tests point to a growing industry trend toward the overseas printing of children’s books, as well as other glossy paper books like coffee table books and textbooks, on fiber that is from controversial and endangered sources.

“There are clear, workable alternatives to printing on paper that destroys the world’s last remaining rainforests,” continued Cortesi. “The publishing industry shouldn’t tolerate printing even one book that contributes to rainforest destruction, species extinction and climate change. ”

Worldwide, the degradation and destruction of tropical rainforests is responsible for fifteen percent of all annual greenhouse emissions. The carbon emissions resulting from Indonesia’s rapid deforestation account for up to five percent of global emissions: more than the combined emissions from all the cars, planes, trucks, buses and trains in United States. This huge carbon footprint from the destruction of forests and peatlands has made non-industrialized Indonesia the third-largest global greenhouse gas emitter, behind only the U.S. and China.

Thankfully, here you will find a rainforest safe summer reading list. All books are printed on post-consumer-recycled, FSC certified or recycled paper, allowing parents the assurance of knowing that their childrens’ books are not contributing to the loss of Indonesia’s or other endangered rainforests. Some of the titles include:

The Earth Book by Todd Parr

The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen

SpongeBob to the Rescue! By Alison Inches

Bunny’s Garden (Pat the Bunny) by Golden Books

Nature Discovery in My Backyard by Rebecca Mattano

Green Mama Activism: Help us tell America's publishing industry that books must not contribute to rainforest destruction. Sign a letter to the publishing industry here.


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