Harry Potter goes green

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows may be breaking other records beside publishing ones. The series has glavanized the world's book industry into going green encouraging the development of 32 Ancient Forest Friendly and eco-friendly paper. Six of the eco-papers were used for the Potter titles alone and include Cascades' Enviro 100 and Schleipen's RC Volumen. It's a shift for books publishers in North America and one that many are welcoming as long overdue.

Of course, the greenness of the book depends on where you're buying it.

After J.K. Rowling realized her best-selling Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix took 250,000 trees for printing, she asked her publishers to print the book on 100% recycled paper. Almost all of her publishers agreed, except Scholastic, which publishes the U.S. editions. After howls of protests from parents, Scholastic agreed to print 65 percent of the book on FSC approved paper, using 30 percent less of the trees. It's better than nothing.

The Canadian edition of Harry Potter is a happier version. Published by Raincoast Books, the first company in the world to publish the Potter series on 100 percent recycled paper. It now publishes its entire line on recycled paper and has encouraged 300 other publishers to adopt similar environmental policies to protect the Boreal forest.

"When it comes to green, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is at the top of the book pile," said Nicole Rycroft, executive director of Markets Initiative, the Vancouver-based environmental group that started working with J.K. Rowling starting in 2003 to turn Potter green. "We foresee other publishers and major paper consumers being inspired to take similar action to protect species and forests such as Canada's Boreal."

Using recycled paper for HP7 has saved 197,685 trees (an area equivalent to 2.5 times the size of New York's Central Park) and kept 7.9 million kilograms of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere (equivalent to taking 1,577 cars off the road).

The world of book selling and publishing has changed to care for the needs of the planet. Harry Potter may have just saved the Muggle world by being the largest print run in history. Voldemort would not approve.