My Green Guilty Pleasure: The New York Times and a Bunch of Magazines

Ok, I admit it. I'm killing trees, wasting energy, and polluting water.

Well, maybe not me directly. But my decidedly not green habit — ok, let's call it addiction — to The New York Times, Fast Company, Natural Home, Outside, Sierra, Glamour, and Ladies Home Journal puts me squarely in the box labeled "PAPER WASTER."

Why do I do it? Why get actual physical editions of publications I could easily read on-line with nary a twig cut or an iota of CO2 generated?

NHMayJune08 First and foremost, I do it for the content. Every day, I open the New York Times to some news or feature I never would have thought to explore myself. To slake my thirst for green business models, Fast Company's frequent profiles of successful eco entrepreneurs keep me inspired; plus, the regular "Made to Stick" column by the Heath brothers does a yeoman's job of reminding me to keep things simple and surprising. I live vicariously through the scrumptious pages of Natural Home; maybe I won't be installing an environmentally-friendly counter made of recycled glass in my kitchen any time soon, but I love fantasizing about the possibilities.

I subscribe to Outside because the writing is so darn good (and I'm an avid hiker, biker, white water rafter, and eco-traveler). Plus, it's something I can share with my very adventurous twenty-something son. I subscribe to Glamour because it's something I can share with my very fashion-conscious college-age daughter (stereotypes? yes…sigh). And honestly, it reminds me there are other options out there besides granny underpants. Flipping through Glamour also keeps me focused on how much work we still need to do to green the clothing industry, especially for business and professional women. Then it's back to Sierra, which not only connects me to the organization I served as national Director of Communications early in my career; it keeps me up to date on environmental policy and green consumer news. And truth be told, the issue that highlights Sierra Club's national and international outings gets me daydreaming about backpacking for hours on end.

As for Ladies Home Journal? My mission is to help women use their marketplace clout to protect themselves, their families, and the planet. How better to get a reality check than by perusing a publication that reaches millions of women every month, often with messages that are very clearly the opposite of mine?

Apart from the joy I get reading great content, I should probably cop to the visceral pleasure I feel when I read words printed on paper. After ten or so hours sitting at a computer, I need to switch off. I can take the newspaper or magazine with me to my back porch, my window seat, or my bed, and just…relax. I know, the Kindle is portable, too. But it's still electronic. And pressing the forward button on an illuminated book box is just not the same as turning a page. 

Of course, there are loads of publications I read on-line, along with dozens of blogs and websites. And you can be sure I try to be as eco friendly as possible with the publications I do receive, recycling rather than throwing them away or passing copies along to neighbors and friends. I support organizations that plant trees, and I try to plant at least one tree myself every Earth Day. 

Greenmoms1  Is this enough? Maybe, maybe not. But for the moment, it will have to do, even if I do feel just a little bit guilty every time one of my favorite pubs shows up on my doorstep. Fortunately, as the saying goes, misery loves company. I've got a lot of company this month, as the rest of the bloggers in the Green Moms Carnival reveal their 'sins' and unload their guilt, too. Enjoy – and please, let me know: 

What's your green guilty pleasure? 

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12 Responses to My Green Guilty Pleasure: The New York Times and a Bunch of Magazines

  1. Mindful Momma June 18, 2009 at 3:09 pm #

    Ahhhhh…the pleasures of reading on paper…I totally agree. I can only spend so much time on the computer before going bug-eyed!! And I love how you describe the specific joy for each thing you read – passion for life is just as important as passion for the earth!

  2. arduous June 19, 2009 at 3:21 am #

    Plus you’re saving the newspaper industry!! I read about five newspapers online … The Guardian, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune … but none of them ever see money from me! I feel bad because I want to support good journalism. Maybe they should instigate a tip jar, or take donations like NPR or something.

  3. Condo Blues June 19, 2009 at 10:47 am #

    I read a lot of newspapers and magazines on line but I do like to actually have the paper in my hands too. I’m a design geek, and you don’t always get to look at a well designed print ad when you read the on line version of something.
    Besides, printed newspapers and magazine make much better material for creative reuse projects than the on line versions.:)

  4. Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama June 19, 2009 at 9:37 am #

    I love Fast Cpmpany too! And I like the hard copy of it.

  5. Beth Terry, aka Fake Plastic Fish June 21, 2009 at 10:44 pm #

    Diane, as long as you’re actually reading the magazines, I do think this is a fairly minor “sin.” I’m not so sure the Kindle will turn out to be the best answer for us, healthwise. I know that after hours of staring at a computer screen, my eyes are dry and aching. I can’t imagine reading everything on a computer screen.
    My issue is more with all the catalogs and other junk mail that get sent to us unrequested that so many people routinely toss out without thinking to request removal from the mailing lists. This is my ongoing project. I feel like a broken record sometimes… “Remove me. Remove me. Remove me. I will NEVER buy your product if you send me junk mail. Remove me.” We really need a National Do Not Mail registry.

  6. Diane MacEachern June 22, 2009 at 2:49 am #

    Beth, I completely agree with you re junk mail. Forest Ethics ( has done a great job focusing on individual companies (like Victoria’s Secret) and pressuring them to reduce how much they print and to use recycled paper. But it’s not enough. I’ve blogged about this a lot. A National Do Not Mail Registry is a great idea.

  7. Jenn June 23, 2009 at 5:56 pm #

    I do this same tap dance with guilt over print publications as well. Like you, I read tons of stuff online, but there is just no comparison to curling up with a favorite magazine and flipping the pages. Isn’t Sierra printed on recycled paper?

  8. Katy June 23, 2009 at 7:36 pm #

    Ahh, yes, I too love the short articles, fun pictures and recipes in some magazines. Perfect for new parents who only have 2 seconds to read something.
    I have a friend who saves her old magazines for me. I love getting a new stash and even the ones that are just pure fun (no redeeming educational value whatsoever). This is fine reuse, if you ask me.
    Thanks for sharing this!

  9. Mary June 24, 2009 at 7:16 am #

    The Minneapolis StarTribune got me started on the online news. At first I rebelled, I missed the feel of paper in my hands on the outside deck. That was soon replaced by the pain of recycling the stack every week. Today I go to the coffee shop and read the leftovers sitting around the shop when I need my retro fix. The NYtimes is my home page on my computer.
    Guilty pleasure – taking TIME to read the paper instead of saving the world.

  10. Lisa June 24, 2009 at 7:57 am #

    I have a HUGE stack of magazines right now. I do pass them on to my mom before they are recycled so they do get a lot of use first but still.

  11. mother earth aka karen hanrahan June 25, 2009 at 6:19 am #

    I always thought that someday I’d indulge my joy of reading the printed page and just do it at the library, however as someone who loves to collage – the library would not be happy with all my tearing and stealing of beautiful pictures!! I also at one point had 10 years. TEN! Of archival magazines. That I actually moved with me from home to home! Yikes!!

  12. Bed Bug Exterminator New York May 22, 2014 at 4:54 am #

    It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate to
    this fantastic blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed
    to my Google account. I look forward to fresh updates and
    will talk about this site with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

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