PUblished books and journals
One of the most iconic tools of a magickal practitioner is The Book. “Get the bird”, said aunt Jet. “Get the book!” replied aunt Frances (Practical Magic, 1998). These books help us to learn everything about our religion and practice, as well as allowing us to record our experiences our creations. Today, many of that can be done with an electronic device which can save tons of deforestation, depending on its source. However, a lot of us still prefer the feel and smell of an old, hard-bound Book of Shadows or Grimoire. And for those of us that do, the two main categories that constitute any book is paper and ink.
Paper: Everyone knows that paper comes from trees, right? Well, also chemicals, filler, and moisture to help during the printing process. Paper is actually made from pulp that is derived from [typically] coniferous trees. Sometimes these trees grow in plantations and sometimes the pulp is a byproduct of timber deforested for construction. On average, most paper in the US is recycled at a 48 percent rate. So, for either published books or for your journaling, always choose books that are either made from post-consumer waste materials (PCW), or are Forest Stewardship Certified (FSC) to ensure that your paper source is sustainable and environmental, regardless of where it comes from. And the best paper is unbleached, raw paper to eliminate some of the chemicals, but that’s more available for our grimoires, than published books. Another ingredient in some higher quality paper is cotton. Though cotton requires a lot of water to grow, it’s the smaller strands of the cotton that is used for paper ,and the longer strands for our clothes- so it’s not exactly needing more than what’s already provided, luckily.
And for some good news, Llewellyn Books informed Pagan Earth Alliance that their Annuals (calendars, datebooks, almanacs) will be printed on FSC paper starting in 2021!
Ink: Ink can be a huge problem in terms of printing on paper. Ink cartridges require certain volatile organic compounds (VOC) and heavy metals that can wreak havoc like butyl urea, which prevents your paper from curling; cyclohexanone, which helps ink adhere to polymers; several dyes including reactive red 23 dye, acid yellow 23 dye and direct blue 199 dye, which contains sulphur; ethoxylated acetylenic diols which modify the surface tension of the water and colours; Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) which is full of contaminants and ethylene glycol. As if that’s not damaging enough, it can take up to 1000 years for these cartridges to break down, during which time all of these VOCs and heavy metals are seeping into the earth, and with 1 million ink cartridges being tossed into a landfill every single day- well that’s a lot of damage! When you recycle cartridges, 97 percent can be recovered but not all printing companies practice recycling. The same harmful chemicals can be said about disposable pens (which also adds plastic pollution), stenciling ink, and dip pen ink (the old fashion bottle of ink for quills and dip pens).
Ink has come a long way, however! Now, you can find ink that is soy or vegetable-based for printed paper or for your grimoires and even biodegradable pens or pens made from bamboo! The problem, however, with soy, vegetable, and water-based inks is that there are still VOCs and heavy metals involved, albeit not as much, for the colorants and pigments within. These types of inks are a great gateway step in the right direction, but the future of ink is algae. Algae does not require any destructive farming practices that soy and vegetables are receiving today, and no VOC or heavy metals to make the pigment stick! Algae (and not just being used in ink) is truly sustainable and renewable, so be on the lookout! Until then, however, look for vegetable/soy-based or make your own! In Scott Cunningham’s Incense, Oils, and Brews; he offers great recipes for ink using berries, beets, grape juice, and gum arabic!