It takes a forest

In the interest of full disclosure, Mountain Xpress figured it was only fair to take a stab at calculating the environmental impact of producing a single issue of the paper’s print edition. Despite such measures as using soy-based ink and recycled paper, we reached the sobering conclusion that Xpress is responsible for a staggering 2.17 tons of CO2 emissions each week.

Of course, any such calculation entails a lot of assumptions, and with so many variables, arriving at precise figures is difficult (partly in the interest of space constraints, for example, we didn’t get into the carbon footprint of our meat-eating vs. our vegan staff). But drawing on a variety of sources, we’ve tried to quantify the cumulative effect of the actual printing process, the work-related driving staffers do, and the electricity used to keep the office running. Here’s what we came up with:

• Miles driven per week – about 2,500 (including staff commutes, advertising client visits and distribution routes)
• Amount of CO2 this much driving generates — 1,719.6 lbs. (0.86 tons)
• Weekly electric bill — $153.75
• Number of kilowatt-hours this represents — about 1,590 kwh
• Number of hours per week Xpress offices are open — about 45
• Number of kilowatts used per hour — about 35 kW
• Number of kilowatts used per week — about 18,000 kW
• Amount of CO2 our electricity use produces — about 1,892 lbs. (0.946 tons)
• Number of papers we print each week — about 29,000
• Cost of the electricity required to print those papers – $58.23
• Number of kilowatt-hours this represents — about 600 kwh
• Amount of CO2 our printing produces — about 714 lbs. (0.36 tons)
• Average number of pages per issue — 87 pages
• Number of trees consumed to produce the paper used — roughly 27 trees (the paper we use is about two-thirds recycled fiber)
• Amount of CO2 those trees would have absorbed in a week — about 13 lbs. (0.0065 tons)

To calculate your own carbon footprint, go to nature.org/initiatives/climatechange/calculator.

— — Susan Andrew and Xpress intern Amanda Varner

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