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Environmental History
HIST 106
Section: 99C
Instructor: Eagle Glassheim
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Magazines are periodical publications containing articles and illustrations, typically covering a particular subject or area of interest.



The beginning of magazine production starts with logging. Pulp wood logs are cut to remove the bark. The bark is used as fuel to power the boilers in the factory. The logs are sent through chippers so that they are in 1 to 2 inch pieces. The chips are sent into "digesters" where they are steamed under pressure so that the chips become an almost liquid, oatmeal-like pulp. This process removes any unwanted substances and is then frozen so that the pulp becomes 200 parts water to one part fiber. It is then run onto a fast moving mesh screen loop. The water is extracted and the fibers form a matte paper. The paper is pressed and passed through steam heated drying cylinders where any leftover water is removed. A special ink is then added to the paper by running it through heavy ironing rollers, providing a smooth finish. The giant rolls of paper are cut into smaller sizes and packed to be shipped.[1]

Paper Making Statistics[2]

  • Of the global wood harvest for “industrial uses” (everything but fuelwood) 42% goes to paper production. (Abromovitz and Mattoon, Worldwatch Paper: Paper Cuts, p. 20, 1999)
  • The pulp and paper industry is the single largest consumer of water used in industrial activities in OECD countries and is the third greatest industrial greenhouse gas emitter, after the chemical and steel industries (OECD Environmental Outlook, p. 218)
  • Most of the world’s paper supply, about 71 percent, is not made from timber harvested at tree farms but from forest-harvested timber, from regions with ecologically valuable, biologically diverse habitat. (Toward a Sustainable Paper Cycle: An Independent Study on the Sustainability of the Pulp and Paper Industry, 1996)
British Columbia[3]
    • Temperate forests are the most endangered forest type on the planet (World Resources Institute, 1997)
    • Temperate rainforests only ever covered 0.2% of the world’s land surface (Ecotrust and Conservation International, 1992)
    • Temperate rainforests are truly ancient forests and contain some of the world’s oldest trees.
    • BC is home to a quarter of the world’s remaining ancient temperate rainforests (WRI)
    • One out of eight animal species in BC is at risk of extinction, according to the BC Ministry of Environment. Logging was identified as one of the primary contributing causes (BC Ministry of Environment, State of the Environment Report 2000).
    • BC’s Ministry of Forest data states that the rate of logging in BC is unsustainable (BC Ministry of Forests)
    • 90% of the logging in British Columbia (BC) occurs in ancient forests (BC Ministry of Forests).
    • Over 40% of the trees cut in BC are used to produce paper (Markets Initiative, 2001)


The magazine printing facility receives these rolls of paper. Most magazines are printed through a process called offset lithography. Giant rolls of paper are fed through a press run that runs at high speeds that ink and color the paper. The ink is distributed to the plates through a series of rollers. On the press, the plates are dampened, first by water rollers, then ink rollers. The rollers distribute the ink fountain onto the plates. The water rollers keep the ink off the non-image areas of the plate. Each plate then transfers its image to a rubber blanket that in turn transfers the image to the paper. There is a risk of the ink smudging so the paper is sent through a gas fired oven that dries the paper. Then it is sent through rollers that are cold so that the ink will set into the paper. The roll of paper is cut to size and binded togeter using staples or glue.[4]


Vancouver Magazine[5]

Launched :1967 Published: 10 times a year Readers Per Copy: 6.5 Total Readership: 310,000 Distribution: 55,000 Target: Urban adults 18-49, with high disposable income

Reader Profile:

Male/Female : 59%/41% Age 25-54 : 67% Age 18-49: 68% Post Secondary Education : 71% Household Income $75,000+ :51% Household Income $100,000+ :33% Personal Income $50,000+ :38%

TOTAL AUDIENCE: 18+ 310,000


Home Delivery:

West Vancouver - 7020 North Vancouver - 8175 Vancouver Westside -24,671 (including Yaletown & Coal Harbour)

Total Vancouver Households: 39,866

Newsstands: 10,000

Subscriptions, Events,Hotels & Airline, PR: 5134


There are many different ways in which a magazine can be disposed of including re-using it, recycling it, or (for those unsustainable folks) putting it directly in the trash. A magazine can be re-used by passing it on to a friend, family member, or colleague to read or even make an artsy collage! The City of Vancouver has a Blue Box Recycling Program which was implemented in 1990 and currently provides service to more than 100,000 households. This program allows residents allover Vancouver to recycle a large variety of products including paper, newsprint, cardboard, metal, plastic containers, and glass. In order to recycle magazines in the city of Vancouver they need to be placed in the reusable yellow recycling bag which is designated for mixed paper products. When this bag is full of mixed paper products it is to be placed in the back alley of the residence by 7a.m. on the day of collection, with the bags laying on their sides to keep the rain out. On the day of collection city crews collect the magazines from the yellow recycling bag into a collection vehicle which is used to deliver the products to a processing facility for supplementary sorting and preparation for the recycling market. The city of Vancouver covers the cost of this recycling program by charging households an annual fee. In 2010, recycling costs were $29 for a single-family house, $50 for a duplex, $92 for a quadruplex, with increasing costs for larger buildings or apartments. Unfortunately, regardless of the fact that we have the programs and resources to recycle magazines some people still dispose of them directly into the garbage. The disposal process of garbage is similar to that of recycling in that you put the garbage into a bin in the back alley of your household by 7a.m. on the day of collection and city crew come and pick up the disposed waste. Instead of being brought to a supplementary facility where the magazines are processed for the recycling market, the magazines are brought to the Vancouver-Delta landfill at 7200 Burns Dr in Delta, BC where the garbage is compacted and eventually decomposes, all the while filling up high-demand garbage disposal space.

On the surface, the disposal process of magazines does not seem very complicated or influential but after digging a little deeper there are a number of ways both this recycling and garbage disposal process can affect the environment and society as a whole. First off, even just the transport of the disposed product can have an influence on the environment by the release of greenhouse gases from the trucks picking up and transporting the garbage. The machines used to process or compact the disposed magazines use fossil fuels which further contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. These landfills produce methane, contributing to green house gases and the space taken up by the magazines uses much needed space for non-recyclable items.[6][7]

Sustainability and Battling Climate Change

Many paper mills and magazine publishing use recycled/post-consumer paper, thus saving populations of trees from being cut down. However, the processing is much the same as non-recycled paper and magazine production, continuing to be a great contributer to green house gases.

With digital media, the entire magazine production process can be eliminated as the entire publication is created on and sold directly through digital technology. Many publications have their articles and stories online and or sent to devices like the ipad to be read for a subscription fee or no charge at all. Although digital media provides a different aesthetic that is undesirable to some people. You can not physically hold a digital publication or flip through the pages with your fingers which to some people is very important to them. However this may be a small price to pay to eliminate one of the largest processes of energy consumption.


  1. From Tree to Paper:How Paper is Made, The Office Supplies Supermarket, 2010
  2. Global and U.S. Paper Production and Consumption Statistics, Environmental Paper Network
  3. Paper Impacts on Forests: Global and Regional Statistics, Environmental Paper Network
  4. How Offset Printing Works, How Stuff Works,5.htm
  5. Vancouver Magazine 2011 Dates and Data, Vancouver Magazine, 2011
  6. Blue Box Recycling Program, Engineering Services: Solid Waste
  7. Vancouver-Delta Landfill Map, Greater Vancouver Online