National Geographic Builds on Its Recycled Fiber Commitment


Last year, National Geographic Society (NGS) made news when it started incorporating recycled fiber paper into its flagship publication, National Geographic Magazine.  The move was big news because National Geographic is a major publisher of high quality magazines.  National Geographic’s inclusion of recycled fiber proves that a premier publisher can use recycled fiber in its paper without compromising quality.

Since then, National Geographic has increased its use of recycled fiber, and there is now 10% post-consumer waste (PCW) content in National Geographic Kids, National Geographic Little Kids, and National Geographic Traveler.  The increase in recycled fiber content sends a clear message to the magazine industry that other publishers can follow in the footsteps of National Geographic while pleasing their readers and advertisers.

Green America and Natural Resources Defense Council worked closely with National Geographic to assess the impacts of NGS’ paper use and identify opportunities to reduce its environmental footprint. In 2013, Green America and NRDC joined with NGS on the most rigorous study to date of the benefits of using recycled fiber versus virgin fiber in magazine publications. Conducted by an independent third-party for NGS, the study found that recycled fiber is superior to virgin fiber in 14 out of 14 environmental categories, such as energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

DSC_0280asThat’s why all publishers should adopt as high a percentage of recycled fiber as possible for their publications.  As Stephen Hughes, National Geographic’s Vice President for Global Sourcing states, “For National Geographic, our goal – and our challenge – is to balance our desires to utilize as high a percentage of recycled fiber as possible, maintain the highest quality and aesthetic standards, produce affordable products and minimize our impact on the environment.”

Green America congratulates National Geographic on its progress.  If you are a subscriber to NGS publications, please let them know that you support their environmental commitment.

As National Geographic Goes, So Goes the Industry (With Your Help)

Image from Wikimedia

Today, the Green America Better Paper Project and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) are excited to announce that National Geographic is using recycled fiber in the pages of several of their publications – including their flagship publication that reaches over 4 million readers!

National Geographic’s move was the result of several years of assistance from the Better Paper Project and allies. Last year, with the support of the Better Paper Project and NRDC, National Geographic published a study finding that in 14 out of 14 environmental categories, recycled fiber is superior to virgin fiber in magazines.  One year later, National Geographic now has plans in place to increase the amount of recycled fiber in their magazines. Their recycled paper use expansion means that more than 1,000 new tons of recycled paper will be used each year.

As a magazine reader, your opinion makes a difference to the publisher. Consumer concern played a big role in encouraging National Geographic to move to recycled fiber, and now it is very important to use your voice with other publishers – most of whom still use paper only of virgin fiber.

We’re asking all Green Americans to let the publishers of your favorite magazines know that you want them to use paper with recycled fiber. (Not sure if your magazine is using recycled paper? Check here to see a list of the leaders in the industry.)

You can send your message to them in any (or all) of the following ways:

  1. Write a letter to the editor – you can usually find an email or mailing address for the editor in the magazine or on their website.  We’ve included the emails of a few popular publications below.
  2. Post to the magazine’s Facebook page.
  3. Send a “Tweet” to the editor using their Twitter address.

Walbran GLW Clearcut-7

Follow the steps below to take action.


1. Letter to the Editor

Send To: Your favorite magazines

Subject: Are you using recycled paper?

Dear Editor,

I’ve recently learned that National Geographic Society (NGS) is beginning to use recycled paper in all the pages of their photography-centric flagship, National Geographic Magazine. I’d like to ask you if you are using recycled paper in your magazine, and if not, I strongly urge you to begin doing so.

Using recycled paper is critical to protecting the forests and biodiversity impacted when trees are logged for paper production and use. A life-cycle assessment (LCA) commissioned by NGS demonstrates that in all fourteen categories studied—including energy, greenhouse gas emissions, water use, etc. – recycled paper has a lower impact on the environment than traditional virgin tree fiber paper.

NGS worked closely with the Green America Better Paper Project to thoroughly study this issue. I encourage you to reach out to the Better Paper Project ( for assistance and begin using recycled paper as soon as possible.

Thanks for your attention to this important issue.



PS – You can contact the Better Paper Project Director, Frank Locantore by email and phone:, 202-872-5308


2. Post to Facebook

Here are some sample posts you can use to comment on a magazine’s Facebook page:

  • Great publication. Do you print on recycled paper? I’d love to know that you are helping protect our forests and climate. Go to to find out how.
  • Love this article. I want to love it more – can you tell me if it is printed on recycled paper? Go to to find out the benefits of recycled fiber.

Please contact Frank Locantore at the Better Paper Project ( if you get a response from a publisher.


3. Send a Tweet

We understand if you are resisting the plethora of social media. But, in the magazine world, Twitter has become a really useful tool for the editors and writers to communicate with their audience. If you use Twitter, please consider sending some “Tweets.” Here are a few examples:

  • You can help protect #forests, #climate, & #communities by using #recycled paper in [insert magazine Twitter name] #magazine.
  • #whatsinyourpaper [insert magazine Twitter name]? Please contact @BetterPaperProj if you need help switching to #recycled #paper
  • I love your [insert magazine Twitter name] magazine, but hate hurting the planet. Do you use #recycled paper? Ask @BetterPaperProj for help.

Thanks for all you do to make this a greener world!


Contact Information for Several Popular US Magazines

(If your favorite mags are not listed below, you can find contact information for the editor on most publisher websites and Facebook pages through Google).

Every Day with Rachael Ray
Editor in Chief: Lauren Purcell

Good Housekeeping
Editor in Chief: Jane Francisco.

The New Yorker 
Editor: David Remnic His email-

O, the Oprah Magazine
Editor in Chief: Lucy Kaylin

Editor in Chief: Dana Points

Real Simple
Editor: Kristin van Ogtrop

Editor in Chief: Peggy Northrop

Editor in Chief: Scott Dadich



Recycled-Paper Magazines Booming in a Down Market

As the modern world continues to transition to a  paperless/digital society, the Environmental Paper Network’s 2011 State of the Paper Industry report contains an encouraging statistic: The annual volume of paper trashed in U.S. landfills decreased by 16 million tons from 2005 to 2009, or a reduction equal to a line of trash barges almost 400 miles long.

That’s great news, though a more sobering statistic reminds us that an amount of paper trash equal to a line of barges 640 miles long is still being trashed. In fact, only about 50 percent of the paper used in office buildings in America is currently recovered for recycling according to

That’s why Green America’s Better Paper Project continues its work to shift the magazine industry onto environmentally preferable paper, building even greater demand for recovered paper, and the good news is…   it’s working.   As Better Paper’s Frank Locantore reports, with greener magazines’ newsstand sales are booming, while the magazine industry as a whole reports decline.  

(NOTE:   Our magazine, the Green American, is always printed on post-consumer recycled paper, OR you can choose an all-digital membership and receive our magazine delivered to your tablet computer. Choose digital, recycled paper, or both, when you join Green America here.)