Surfing Magazine Offsets Carbon Emissions An interview with Publisher Ross Garrett about the magazine’s ‘green’ initiatives.
As environmental issues such as global warming increasingly are being brought into the public consciousness, more and more publishers are examining their own impact on the environment and contemplating ways to increase their levels of “green” responsibility. One of those publishers, San Clemente, Calif.-based Surfing Magazine, recently announced a new strategy for minimizing the environmental impact of its business.
Starting with its October issue, which is the magazine’s second annual “green issue,” Surfing Magazine will purchase carbon offsets to neutralize the amount of carbon emissions it produces in the course of publishing each issue of the magazine. Through a partnership with Carbonfund.org, a nonprofit climate-change solution provider, the magazine will purchase offsets in the form of mangrove reforestation projects in India. Mangroves—trees and shrubs that grow in salt water along the coast—are an important habitat for fish and for filtering ocean pollution.
Surfing Magazine Publisher Ross Garrett spoke with Inbox about his magazine’s latest effort to reduce its environmental footprint.
Inbox: How did you come to this particular approach, and why did you decide to handle the issue of carbon emissions in this way?
Ross Garrett: This was one of a handful of environmental initiatives we could have chosen. … This is something I’ve heard a lot about, read a lot about. … We’ve tried recycled paper, and for us, the quality is just not quite there yet because we’re such a photo-intensive book. So the carbon offsets seemed like a more reasonable way to go at this point in time. We’re still looking at recycled paper and a couple of other things, including solar power. But the carbon neutrality, it’s really kind of a simple thing to do and [Carbonfund.org] has been really helpful in guiding us through it all. …
Inbox: How long have you been working with Carbonfund.org on this?
Garrett: We’ve been working with them for probably about a month, calculating all of our different processes and ways we generate carbon in the production of the magazine. … They have statistical models they plug [those factors] into to calculate how much carbon we produce in producing one [issue of the] magazine. So we calculated that, and then we just signed up to [purchase the carbon offsets] every month.
Inbox: Was this more feasible than trying to actually reduce your carbon emissions?
Garrett: No, we’re still actively trying to reduce emissions. We did an environmental audit of our emissions internally about two years ago and from that flowed a bunch of different ways to decrease our impact in terms of carbon emissions … recycling and all sorts of other things, [from] the type of film our photographers use to the type of batteries we use and how we dispose of those batteries. [There are] a lot of different ways that we’ve opted on to decrease our ecological footprint, and the carbon thing is really cool and a great way to offset what we’re doing. But it’s certainly not the answer, we know that. A zero-waste world is what we’re all after, but it’s not where we’re at right now … In the meantime, this seemed like a really good alternative.
… What’s really interesting for us with the carbon offsets is that we can opt to offset [our carbon emissions] with trees in various locations. We chose mangroves in India. For us, it was really significant because for surfers, water quality is of the utmost importance. … Mangroves act as filters for ocean water, and they clean out a lot of toxins … in addition to producing oxygen and taking in carbon. That was a really important thing for us.
Inbox: Do you think your readers were interested in seeing more global responsibility such as this from the magazine?
Garrett: … I would argue that [our readers] are very environmentally and socially conscious, and increasingly so, but that’s not why we did it. I think our staff, as surfers, we’re all really close to the environment on a daily basis. It’s really important to us. I just think everyone cares. We would have done it whether the reader wanted it or not. [But] I think it is great marketing.
Inbox: What will “The Green Room” [an online eco-resource for surfers that the magazine will launch on its Web site] consist of?
Garrett: Mainly it will be an index to surf-related businesses that have environment initiatives. We see a lot of our advertising base [entering] into the green world, such as with organic cotton t-shirts and solar panels … various initiatives. So what we’re going to do is compile all of that and have a zone on the Web site that people can go into and learn about what the different companies are doing, and [then] they can go directly to [the advertisers’] respective Web sites. … From a purely publishing stand point, it’s an added value component. But I also think it’s of interest for readers, and it will be useful.