Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chasing Sloppy Environmental "Journalism"

From the headline, you can probably sense a certain level of frustration. That's because I've had to spend entirely too much time in an otherwise really busy week chasing after a story on the internet entitled: "Try Out the 5 Best Kinds of Tree-Free Paper. From hemp to poop, here are 5 ways to find and use paper made from just about everything but trees."

Fine. Paper made from hemp, elephant poop, sugarcane waste, bamboo and kenaf makes a cute story. And some of these options are perfectly reasonable alternatives to paper made from trees. I know the people who make them and they have been colleagues in the tree-free movement for years.

But to publish "the 5 best kinds of tree-free paper" without mention of cotton-fiber papers is irresponsible. Especially as the original publisher of this list is one of The Discovery Channel's websites. And especially since I've worked with The Discovery Channel for a long time to develop several of their documentaries featuring tree-free paper. Sheesh.......

Of course, an article like this coming from a publisher with such credentials, gets picked up by other "green" internet publishers as gospel. No questioning; no checking; no Googling. Just a cute story that requires no work.

So, every day, twice a day, I do a keyword search for "tree-free paper" to see who else has picked up this story. And then I have to sign up and leave a comment just to get cotton-fiber papers into the conversation. Any responses yet? Actually yes. I had a follow-up comment from one blog site admitting that they should have considered other, more main-stream options. So, maybe it's not all wasted time.

I suppose the lesson here is that there's good news and bad news these days. Stories travel fast. When they're good stories, that's good. When they're bad stories, they're just plain bad stories no matter what the medium.

The other lesson is, I guess, that although tree-free, recovered cotton-fiber papers have been around for 2,000 years; that they are the most widely available tree-free papers to consumers; that they are the finest quality paper to this day; that they will last longer than we have the ability to test for....they still need constant reintroduction to new generations.

I could use your help spreading the word.

Dang; there's another site with the same story. Gotta go........

1 comment:

Deborah Chapin said...

Your efforts are not wasted. I have been a proponent for most of my career of archival papers and while elephant poop might be a flash in the whats' it, cotton fibers are papers which are suitable for works of art. With proper materials so goes history, so while the poop may have the headline now, cotton will still be here with written poems, art and stories written on it 100 years from now. Best Regards Deborah Chapin