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You are all absolutely correct. This is an important subject that deserves its own board so, rather than check in only when I'm alerted to a new message, I thought I would post my own.

I am co-owner of a (very) small business involved in book publishing. We try very hard to follow sustainable-business principles, but often find ourselves up against sustainable-income problems when we do. For example, all of the paper we use in our office is at least 30% post-consumer recycled. If we were to switch to the 60% or 100% p-c-r products, which I would like to do, we would increase the cost by as much as 75%. The bottom line has to win; otherwise there will be no business to sustain.

When it comes to the books we print, we are up against similar cost-effectiveness problems, but just as troublesome is the difficulty in finding decent, nonacid, long-lasting recycled products. Most of our overseas printers are willing to go the extra distance to help us find such products, but as special orders, which drives the price up and often requires minimum purchases quite a bit larger than we require. In the latter situation, we would end up paying for the entire minimum quantity, even though we may use only 60% of it. Then, unless the printer stores it for us (for a monthly charge) in hopes of a reprint or use on another project, the balance is—you guessed it—dumped. Hardly sustainable practice. (The situation with North American printers tends to be far less workable, by the way.)

Finally, on a micro level, we try to keep electricity usage at a minimum by turning off lights when not in use, installing efficient fluorescent "bulbs" where possible, shutting down computers when not in use for two or more hours, etc.

If there is a question in here—there may not be, by the way—it would have to do with how a small business—any business—balances sustainability and ecological conservation with bottom-line worries such practices often present.

I'd be very happy to hear from anyone who is grappling with similar issues and what you do about them.
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