Thursday, December 03, 2009

Climate Change and writing

As the United Nations Climate Change Conference is happening next week in Copenhagen (7 -18 December) and a reader of Tote Bags contacted me about the solar panel chargers she sells for ipods, mobile phone and presumably ebook readers, it seemed appropriate to talk about some of the ways I and my publisher are trying to help conserve the planet's finite resources.
Harlequin and its British counterpart have been among the first major publishers to fully embrace e-books. Their entire front list and a growing portion of their backlist is now available as e-books. One argument for e-books is that they do save on paper. Harlequin and Mills & Boon have also worked to promote the use of ebooks with various promotions including 10 free M&B books and the 16 free Harlequins to download for their 60th anniversary.
The London office where I am edited has become a nearly paperless office. They accept email submissions, and all the editors read these submissions on e readers.The editors send their thoughts via email. All copy editing is now done via the computer and authors are sent their copy edits/galley via email. We then send the corrections back via email. Five years ago, all this was done on paper. The amount of paper this saves is astronomical and when you start adding transportation cost of posting various manuscripts multiplied by the number of books they publish each year, you can see why this was a huge step towards attempting to reduce carbon footprints for the company.
Most of the Head office communication is now done via email where possible. For example, the various permission forms I have to fill out in order to put excerpts on my website were returned to me signed via email.
For me personally, I recycle the paper I do use along with cardboard from the boxes that the books come in etc. I also do little things like turning out lights and making sure that the computer is switched off at the socket at night.
And then like many others, I have done the basics around the house -- insulating the house, choosing an energy efficient combi-boiler when we had to replace the boiler, turning the thermostat down and wearing layers etc etc.
As we keep bees, we have made sure trees and flowering shrubs have been planted in the garden. In fact, I plant a tree or shrub for each book I sell. With Compromising Miss Milton (May 2010 M&B Historical), I did this by joining the Woodland Trust and having them plant the tree. The Woodland Trust own the Irthing Gorge where part of the book is set so it seemed appropriate.
Equally, I know I am not saint and there is always more I could do. Lots of little actions can make a big difference.
So what do other people do? Or is the Climate Change Conference etc just too overwhelming to think about?

Michelle Styles' latest The Viking's Captive Princess is out in the stores now. You can read an excerpt here. And an apple tree was planted in her back garden to celebrate when she sold this book.


Donna Alward said...

Great post!

Today is garbage day on our street. We have garbage day once every 2 weeks. We have one can out at the end of the drive, for a family of four for 2 weeks. Next week, on recycle day, we will have probably 3 blue bags - cardboard, glass, and the big space taker - milk jugs. Then our green bin of organics. I like that we have a lot less on garbage day than recycle day.

And instead of turning on lights, I open blinds. We also have deck minilights on the railings, but they are solar powered. :-)

Caroline Storer said...

Hi Michelle. I've been recycling for years ever since I went to Germany many many yearss ago and saw how committed they were to recycling there. They even have recycling bins at the end of the supermarket checkout where you can remove all packaging there and recycle before you get home!

The thing that has made a difference to me recently was the free "consumer advice unit" I got from British Gas. You clip it onto the electric meter and it "tells" you how much electricity you are using per day and then over the month. By turning off all the appliances I did have on standby I will now be saving over £60.00 per year. And it shows you just how expensive some items are to run. I'm gobsmacked at how much electricity the electric fire takes as well as the tumble drier! Have a good weekend. Take care. Caroline x

Michelle Styles said...

It is good to hear about people's recyling experiences.

The gizmo you describe Caroline sounds great. I do know getting rid of the tumble dryer will help. We have now been used a solar powered or Aga powered dryer since September.

Rebekah E. said...

Anything that I can recycle I do. I also use yarn that is made out of plastic bottles. I have bought bags for grocery shopping so I am not using their plastic bags.

Mary Anne Landers said...

Thank you for your post, Michelle.
I don't keep bees, but I'm trying to be eco-friendly in the other ways you and your responders mention.

I also try to reduce my carbon footprint regarding transportation. There's no public transportation where I live, so buses and trains are out. But when I can, I walk or ride my bike instead of drive my car.

This isn't just good for the environment; it's healthy. I'd rather burn fat than gas!

Keep up the good work!

Linda Henderson said...

I try to recycle when I can. Newspapers,magazines and plastic. I use green products when I can and I try to save energy by turning off lights when I don't need them.

Michelle Styles said...

Hooray that so many people are doing their bit.

I have not tried the yarn made from plastic bags, does it knit up well?

Michele L. said...

My husband and I are tree huggers! We recycle everything! We reuse aluminum foil by washing it. We reuse plastic bags you get from the grocery store as liners for our small trash cans around the house. We have a plastic bag recycling at our local grocery store so we save all our old, torn bags and take them to the store.

We also save aluminum cans and take them in for money. Anything that can be recycled we do it. We need to be taking care ouf our earth now before it is to late is our motto.

Oh, the biggest thing we save on is electricity. We turn off all lights when leaving a room. We turn our furnace off when we are not home. We have really low electrical bills because of how economical we are about the usage of our furnace. Our furnace is pretty new and is an oversized unit so our house heats up really fast so it doesn't take long for the house to get warm. We usually keep the setting to 68 degrees during the day. At night we usually turn it off but in winter we leave it on and set it at 64 degrees at night. We both like it cold when we sleep.