Thursday, April 21, 2016

This Environmental Advice Really Blows!

Magzter's green claims contain enough BS to fertilize an entire forest.

So here we are, ready to celebrate the last Earth Day before President Trump outlaws climate change. Or builds a wall around it. Or sends it back to Kenya where it came from.

Whatever. In any case, it’s time for the Dead Tree Edition Research Institute’s annual look at dubious environmental achievements.We have two awards to hand out this year:

The Toshiba Award for Shameless Greenwashing goes to Magzter, one of the world's leading sellers of digital magazines, for its bold, unfounded claim that it has "saved" more than 92,000 trees.

Nowhere does its web site provide any substantiation for its claims or how they were calculated. Nor does Magzter reveal anything about its own environmental footprint or policies.

How paper is really made
What makes the claims especially hypocritical is that Magzter makes its money from selling the content of magazine publishers. So it's basically accusing its business partners of killing trees.

I'll bet some of those business partners, including environmental leaders like Hearst and Time Inc., are far more scrupulous than Magzter about their environmental practices. They're certainly more transparent.

Magzter's claims are reminiscent of Toshiba's infamous shoot-ourselves-in-the-foot National No-Print Day campaign from four years ago that was supposed to raise awareness “of the impact printing has on our planet” but was full of unsubstantiated claims and outright falsehoods. That was especially embarrassing because Toshiba makes presses and other products for the printing industry -- and has an environmental record that's almost as sloppy as its accounting.

Advice to Toshiba, Magzter, and their greenwashing ilk: Read this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article about how declines in Wisconsin's paper industry are threatening the health of its forests. Or study TwoSides' new infographic "Busting Myths About How Paper Is Made."

The not-so-coveted This Really Blows Award goes to the folks who've been touting the Dyson Airblade hand dryer as a green alternative to paper towels.

The Airblade is apparently the most energy-efficient hand dryer on the market. And it's powerful enough that users rarely have that "Damn, my hands are still wet" experience that causes them to wipe their hands on their pants.

But some of the research touting it as a green alternative to paper towels has been flawed. Like the Rochester Institute of Technology study that assumed the paper towels contained only virgin fiber and were transported from the mill by truck (not rail) -- and that didn't account for whether the mill used hydro power or other carbon-neutral sources of energy. In other words, the study didn't consider the possibility of switching to more environmentally friendly paper.

The real trouble, however, arose with a recent Journal of Applied Microbiology article revealing that, as Popular Science put it, Airblades were "spraying 1,300 times more viral plaques (clumps of viruses) than paper towels, and sending some of them nearly 10 feet from the dryer itself." That's on top of an earlier study indicating that jet-air dryers like the Airblade "spread 27 times more bacteria than paper towels."

So don't try to go paperless by switching from paper towels to hand dryers. You'll just end up using more tissue paper to blow your nose or more toilet paper to -- oh, never mind.

Other articles featuring Dead Tree Edition's offbeat perspective on Earth Day and print media include:

1 comment:

Auberjyne said...

Knowledge is power!