In 2011, Ooligan Press released Rethinking Paper & Ink: The Sustainable Publishing Revolution. Expanded from a pamphlet of the same name written in 2009 by former Ooligan students Melissa Brumer and Janine Eckhart, the book, which was jointly authored by Ooligan alums Jessicah Carver and Natalie Guidry, sought to increase awareness of sustainable printing practices in the publishing community.

The 2009 edition of Rethinking Paper and Ink was the first of Ooligan’s OpenBook series. Designed to minimize the environmental impact of book production, OpenBook is an auditing process that accounts for different production components and byproducts, including chemicals, greenhouse gases, energy, fiber, and waste; Ooligan produces one title using the OpenBook process each year. Part of what made this process possible for Ooligan was certification from the Green Press Initiative. The Green Press Initiative seeks to reduce the use of paper created from endangered forests and provides a forum for publishers and printers to discuss eco-friendly practices.

With a focus on paper production and converting biodiverse ecosystems into single-species tree plantations, The Green Press Initiative’s standards informed much of the OpenBook audit’s design process. From acquisitions straight down to the finished product, Ooligan considers every part of book production, and with the help of lessons gleaned from The Green Press Initiative, Rethinking Paper & Ink was our attempt to address these matters in a single comprehensive guide.

In some ways, we’ve succeeded. Take, for example, Macmillan Publishers, who use Rethinking Paper & Ink as an in-house guide to sustainability. When one of the Big Five publishers takes notice of a small-press book about sustainable publishing and begins taking steps to make their business more environmentally friendly, it’s not just a victory for your small press—it’s a victory for everyone. Outside the publishing world however, this little tome and its lessons remain a well-kept secret—even in the eco-conscious culture of Portland, Oregon—but we’ve decided to change that.

Over the coming months, Ooligan will be reaching out to the local eco-friendly business community and other organizations and educators concerned with sustainability. From the trendy little restaurant’s printed menus to the giant multinational corporation’s meaty advertising brochures, we interact daily with the world of paper and ink—and there are many ways sustainable publishing can be incorporated into standard business practices. By joining in the sustainability conversation in an active way, we hope to increase awareness of printing options and their environmental implications—and help everyone discover the best choice for their printing needs.

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