Millions of newspapers are printed and delivered every day – and likely thrown out the day after. Yet, no Canadian media firm prints a sustainability report.
Internationally, there are newspaper firms that take seriously the media’s responsibility to ensure a sustainable world. One such firm is the London-based Guardian Newspapers Ltd.
“[Our mission] is to secure the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity,” begins the Guardian’s sustainability report.
“We cannot do this unless we play our own part to secure the natural world in perpetuity.”
The Guardian’s 60-page report includes an auditor’s statement, public opinion polls, and the company’s carbon footprint. It scrutinizes everything from the Guardian’s coverage of motorsports, leisure and travel (which have been criticized by readers for discouraging a sustainable lifestyle), to whether certain forms of advertising should be restricted.
Corporate Knights rated some of Canada’s top newspapers on their environmental impact, and the results were encouraging.
All of the newspapers we examined – Globe and Mail, National Post, La Presse, Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, Calgary Herald, and Halifax Chronicle-Herald – provide full articles online for free.
The Globe and Mail placed tops in green coverage, with the greatest number of headlines containing environmental keywords in the last year. The Calgary Herald was a close second. The Toronto Star’s three environment reporters gave it top marks in the staffing category.
But the Toronto Sun is the only newspaper to print daily on 100 per cent recycled newsprint.
“We’ve been using it for quite some time,” says Larry Crake, Toronto Sun Production. “Most of the Sun Media chain uses it.”
The National Post earned points for printing its weekend Toronto tab on alternative offset paper, which is 100 per cent recycled paper. Brian Batenburg in the Post’s prepress department explained that the tab is a “relatively new product” and that they chose the paper in order to be more environmentally friendly.
Isabelle Durand, spokesperson for La Presse, stated that while its paper contains only 20 per cent recycled content, all paper is sourced in Canada (reducing transport emissions) and the remaining 80 per cent is made of wood chip.
The Calgary Herald is the newspaper with the greatest masthead diversity, achieving a score of 20 per cent. The Herald also runs a Green Guide column every Friday in its Real Life section and maintains a microsite detailing environmental issues in Calgary.
In September 2007, the Herald began a campaign to reduce its environmental footprint, which includes initiatives such as solar panel lighting for the parking lot and issuing travel mugs to its staff as a Christmas present to discourage paper cup use.
Corporate Knights gave a bonus point to any newspaper that offered fair trade coffee to its employees. The Halifax Chronicle-Herald is the only newspaper that definitively offers fair trade coffee to its employees, sourced from Sydney, NS-based Maritime Coffee Service.