Turning Green

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Having been bitten by the ecology bug as a teenager, I have always had a favorable disposition towards the environment and environmentally friendly practices. I have, however, stopped short of adopting a fanatical environmental stance. Rather, I have opted for a more pragmatic approach. While I am careful to avoid careless, thoughtless, or needless actions that produce detrimental outcomes on the environment, I also realize that some efforts carry an unrealistic price tag or are of infinitesimal value.

This includes initiatives that are counterproductive or nonsensical. It was recently suggested that the pollution created driving one’s waste products to the recycling center outweigh the small environmental benefits gained from the items recycled. Or consider the Indy Racing initiative to use ethanol fuel in all cars. It sounds good, but what does it really accomplish? I suspect that Indy racers would harm the environment far less by not changing tires four or five times each race. How much landfill space is occupied by racing tires with less than 100 miles on them?

However, it is the concept of carbon credits that amuses me the most. That’s sort of like saying that it’s all right to speed as long as someone else is driving slow; one person’s speeding is counteracted by another person’s willingness to dawdle, therefore their combined average velocity is lawful. The next time you’re stopped for being in too much of a hurry, try that argument with the police officer and see how far you get.

As a magazine publisher, I am well aware that eventually the vast majority of the magazines I print will end up in the landfill. True, Connections Magazine has amazing staying power, continuing to be used by subscribers well after issues of other magazines have faded into oblivion. In fact, I often hear from people who permanently file old issues; some even claim to have every issue. How affirming and inspiring is that? Even so, some day they will become trash, with only a lucky few being recycled for another visit with the printing press.

So what does this all mean? Will we stop printing and go green? No way! Alternately, will we disregard the eventual waste that will be produced and merrily print away? Again, an emphatic no! Instead, we will take a pragmatic approach, doing what is reasonable and cost-effective, while avoiding extreme reactions that really accomplish little. Here are my thoughts on the subject:

We Will Continue to Print: We are committed to providing a printed copy of the magazine for as long as it is feasible to do so. Even so, at some point printing and mailing Connections will become cost-prohibitive. When will that occur? No one knows. It might be in a couple of years, maybe in a decade, perhaps longer, but at some point, printing and mailing the magazine (which account for over half our costs) will cease to make sense. When that occurs, do not despair; Connections Magazine will continue on in electronic form (as a PDF or using some other emerging technology).

Help Us Fine-Tune Our Mailing List: Check the back cover. If the mailing label says “Time to Renew” please visit out website to update and confirm your subscription to ensure that you continue to receive every issue of Connections Magazine. You may also use this same link to update and make changes to your subscription.

It’s a given that every mailing list has a percentage of addressees who no longer want to receive mail. We need to identify those folks and remove them. By renewing your subscription, you confirm that you want to continue receiving the magazine. If you don’t renew, we will consider you as someone who is no longer interested.

Cancel Unneeded and Unused Subscriptions: If your call center receives more copies of Connections Magazine then you need, please cancel the extras. This is easy to cancel unneeded copies.

“Do Not Mail” Legislation: Bolstered by the positive public response to the Do Not Call (DNC) laws, fifteen states are currently considering Do Not Mail bills. If one of these bills pass in your state and you haven’t renewed your subscription, you might be summarily removed from our mailing list. Obviously, we will need to learn more about the bills when they pass – and it is likely that some will – but one outcome could be that all non-confirmed subscribers in that state will be dropped.

Go Electronic: Currently 13 percent of our subscribers receive Connections Magazine electronically. What exactly does that mean? It means they receive an email as soon as each issue is complete.

Electronic subscribers usually receive their notification a week or more before anyone receives their printed copy! To try email delivery. Your mailed subscription will continue while you get used to electronic delivery. Just remember to cancel your mailed subscription when you no longer need it – or cancel your electronic subscription if it’s not what you expected.

Alternately, check out the Connections Magazine blog, which allows you to receive an email message when a new issue is available, as well as other industry information. It also has an option and an RSS feed.

The Future Looks Bright: We have been tracking changes in the publishing industry and are excited about what the future holds. One thrilling consideration is “electronic paper” or “e-paper.” This has the potential to provide the best of both worlds: the elimination of printing, paper, and mailing costs, yet retaining the readiness, portability, and readability of a printed magazine. Wikipedia has a great entry about “electric paper.”

A parallel path is “e-readers,” of which there are currently four on the market: the Amazon Kindle, Sony Librie, Sony Reader, and iRex iLiad. Though I have yet to test them, I expect to do so in the near future. The Amazon Kindle, for example, allows users to read electronic books, newspapers, and magazines. It costs $400, and the initial production run sold out the first day. Obviously, the price for these readers will go down over time, and the quality and features will likewise increase.

Whatever the future holds, Connections Magazine will be here for you!

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.  Read more of his articles at PeterDeHaanPublishing.com.

[From Connection Magazine May 2008]