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April 2008

Backpacker’s Carbon-Neutral Project

Last fall, we showed you the many ways that climate change is altering the wild places we love. Now, a look at what BACKPACKER is doing to reduce the magazine's impact.

What We Did | What We Learned | What We’re Doing | Where We Stand | What You Can Do

What We’re Doing
With this issue, we’re implementing changes that cut our footprint by 12%. We’re also investing in verified offsets that make BACKPACKER carbon-neutral.

1. Paper cuts
For years, BACKPACKER has been printed on 10% recycled stock. It’s pricier than regular paper, but an effective way to limit impact. Unfortunately, strong demand and the dollar’s decline has sent the price of papers with higher recycled content soaring. Experts say that supply should increase (and prices decline) in the next few years, but in the meantime we’re taking two other steps that will yield sizable reductions. First, we’ve switched to a lighter-weight recycled stock that drops our paper use by 150,282 pounds a year. Second, we’ve moved our regional pages to the web, cutting another 218,640 pounds (bonus: you can now see all six regional sections online). These changes will eliminate 590,177 pounds of CO2 annually–the equivalent of saving 25 acres of forest.

2. Digital editions
You asked; we acted. After our Global Warming Issue, a number of eco-minded readers requested digital copies of BACKPACKER as an alternative to their print subscriptions. So we partnered with Zinio to make complete digital editions available online. Besides reducing your footprint, they go anywhere a laptop can and let you link directly to contests, manufacturer catalogs, and special features on our new website (such as maps, videos, and menus). To download a free trial offer of this issue and last month’s Gear Guide, go to

3. Quality offsets
What we can’t change, we’ll pay to offset. Does that mean we’re buying guilt relief? No way. We’re addressing our impact through a program of real reductions and investments in sustainable energy development. With each issue, we’ll send Cooler a check to fund initiatives like the farm project below; the dollar amount–well into five figures annually–will support GHG reductions equal to our total footprint. All offsets will meet the strictest criteria: direct, additional, positive, and verifiable.

4. Waste reductions
BACKPACKER’s headquarters in Boulder is becoming a zero-waste facility. What does that mean? Nothing leaves the building headed for a landfill–every scrap is recycled or composted. Working with a local environmental agency (check for ideas and resources near you), we’re training our staff–and custodians–to fill the right bins. We’ve also swapped bulbs, moved to 100% recycled supplies, turned down the heat, and developed a mostly paperless workflow.

5. Commuting goals
We need to fly to bring you great hiking stories, but planes burn heaps of fuel. To compensate, our staff is committing to ride, walk, or bus to work at least 25,000 miles in 2008. Every mile not driven equals 1.2 pounds of CO2 not emitted. Over a year, that’s a lot of carbon–the equivalent of 11,170 dishwasher loads–and a whopping 350,000 calories burned. Want to join our commuting challenge? Think your staff or hiking group can beat ours? Write to

6. Watchdog
For the last year, our sharpest eyes and ears on environmental issues have been contributing editor Berne Broudy’s. With this issue, she assumes the new post of green editor. From her home in Vermont, Berne will report on climate from a backpacker’s perspective. As a charter member of an outdoor industry group working to establish benchmarks for footprinting hiking and camping products, she’ll also blog on sustainable gear and DIY solutions at

What We Did | What We Learned | What We’re Doing | Where We Stand | What You Can Do

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