Boycott Harry Potter U.S. Edition, Eco-Groups Say

Brian Handwerk
for National Geographic News
July 18, 2005

Despite calls for a boycott of the U.S. edition, the latest Harry Potter book sold 6.9 million copies in its first 24 hours, breaking the series record set by the last Potter novel.

A coalition of conservation groups had urged U.S. buyers to take their business north of the border, because the U.S. publisher of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince did not print it on recycled paper.

Raincoast Books, Potter's Canadian publisher, is printing the J.K. Rowling novel on 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper. Consequently, the Vancouver-based publisher may save nearly 30,000 trees, according a study by Markets Initiative, a coalition of environmental groups, including Greenpeace Canada and the Sierra Club.

Raincoast isn't the only publisher seeking to put a green tint on the wildly popular Potter books. Publishers from Germany, Italy, Britain, and Israel also comitted to printing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on large percentages of recycled paper and/or "ancient forest friendly" paper.

"It is great to see some publishers following the lead set by Raincoast Books in Canada. It is now up to publishers like Scholastic in the U.S. to respond to the challenge that has been laid down," said Pamela Wellner, a Greenpeace senior campaigner in San Francisco, California.

But the book's largest publisher—U.S.-based Scholastic, whose initial Half-Blood Prince printing numbers some 11 million books—has passed on a recycled Potter.

Some environmental organizations are asking U.S. Potter fans to order their copies from Raincoast though Canadian online booksellers like www.amazon.ca or www.chapters.indigo.ca.

"If [Scholastic] had printed the book on 100 percent recycled paper, its 10.8-million print run could have saved 217,475 trees," Greenpeace's Wellner said.

Though numbers are not available for the current book, Raincoast published some 930,000 copies of the last Harry Potter installment, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Raincoast's use of recycled paper may conserve more than trees. According to eco-minded Markets Initiative, printing the Canadian edition on recycled paper will also produce the following savings:

• 16,757,965 gallons (63,435,801 liters) of water, enough to fill 42 Olympic-size swimming pools

• 1,884,926 pounds (854,988 kilograms) of solid waste, equivalent to 262 female elephants

Continued on Next Page >>


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