Being sustainable is not always black and white

Melissa wonders if it is better to print the Ridgeline in black and white, to reduce the amount of color ink used, or if readers prefer the bright colors?
Melissa wonders if it is better to print the Ridgeline in black and white, to reduce the amount of color ink used, or if readers prefer the bright colors?

Merck Forest, as an education non-profit, is always seeking ways to let members and visitors know what programs, events, and activities are happening here at the farm and forest.

As an organization that strives to be sustainable, MFFC struggles to find the most environmentally-friendly ways to publicize the programs, events, and activities.We are constantly looking for the best answer to this predicament.

Unfortunately, the answer is never black and white.  So many questions have to be asked before an answer can be found.

Do we use paper? Which kinds: post-consumer recycled, certified-sustainable paper, etc?

If we use paper, should it be printed with soy-based ink? Not all soy products are harvested organically or sustainably; some are grown in large monocultures.

Do we switch everything to electronic sources? What does that mean for electrical use and the future of electronic waste? Does this favor only a select group of our readers, as many prefer a “paper-in-hand” experience.

It seems with every choice we make, as a staff we must make a list that measures the positives and negatives of that choice…

…and consult our visitors’ and members’ opinions. Your opinion really matters in our decision-making.       

The newest question focuses on the Ridgeline, the Merck Forest and Farmland Center quarterly newsletter. It contains articles on our partnerships, educational programs, annual events, volunteer information, farm animal updates, recipes, and more.

The Ridgeline is written as a collective: staff, apprentices, board members, visitors, and school groups all contribute to the newsletter. It’s awesome!

But…is printing the color ink, eight page (front and back) newsletter four times a year, and sending it to 900 members each time (that’s 14,400 pages total/year) sustainable?

We are weighing the pros and cons right now. We hope you’ll give us your opinion.