Will paper kill the papers?

I keep waiting for the Greeniacs to wake up and discover that they’re probably tearing down more trees through reading than they are by planting through companies that promise to make you carbon neutral. When I was in London, I saw the green squad attacking travel editors for recommending trips on planes. Now Roy Greenslade points to a campaign to show how damaging free papers are to the environment. And why stop at free papers, by the way? Why not those thick Sunday numbers, too? And magazines? And mail? And books?

Project Freesheet decries the growth of free newspapers as an ecological no-no. And Jon Hughes of Ecologist Online wants them banned. In the battle of free speech vs. trees, trees win in his book (uh, an electronic, paperless book, that is).

Hughes provides these numbers for London’s freesheets alone:

Look at the ballpark figures behind the 1.5 million daily papers put out by the current four. It takes 12 established trees to make one tonne of newsprint, which is enough to print 14,000 editions of an average-size tabloid. That means a daily usage of newsprint of a little over 107 tonnes. Which, in turn, means the felling of 1,284 trees.

Why stop there? How much newsprint do all the newpapers in the world use? According to this Berkeley site, 37.8 million tons in 2001. At 12 trees per ton, that’s 453 million trees.

Save the trees! Save the planet! Stop reading!

On t-shirts and bumperstickers near you, soon.

(By the way, is anybody auditing these companies to confirm just how many trees they do plant?)