Backalong Books is committed to following principles of sustainability and by this we mean that we want to leave the world a better place than before we began operations:
• we promote the notion that every time a book is published and sold, the resources gained from those sales will provide the impetus for another new author and book to be supported. In this regard we aim for modest increases in our book list only as we become financially viable. This financial sustainability is crucial;
• we want our books to be uplifting and beneficial to readers, perhaps even inspirations for thinking and practising differently;
• we want our engagements with people – authors (or other artists of various kinds) or purchasers of our books or those providing services to us – to witness productive, fair, socially responsible, and equitable actions;
• we want to foster the careers of emerging academics and other authors by getting their works into print in expedient ways;
• we want to contribute to the communities in which we are principally located. There are many ways to do this but one basic way is by offering fair employment and remuneration for the many tasks that help to bring books into production and contributing directly to the wellbeing of communities in ways that make sense to both them and us;
• we actively promote care and responsibility for the natural world, for the environment.
We have therefore established and intend to follow a set of ethically responsible practices. We have specific ideas about how we can contribute towards environmental sustainability.
Backalong Books intends to continue operations through environmentally sustainable practices in all aspects of its operations and, as such, actively promotes environmental responsibility.
Backalong Books uses paper and other resources to produce high quality hard copy books. Like many publishers we are acutely aware of the need to reduce our carbon footprint. In order to meet this broad goal Backalong Books is committed to minimizing the use of forest-derived and petroleum-based products. We actively support sustainable forestry harvesting practices – as advocated, for example, by the Forestry Stewardship Council of Canada (FSCC) – by using, to the extent viable, a full range of post-consumer, recycled, and reprocessed paper products supported by the FSCC. We are also less interested in producing hard covered books because of the greater costs of production (and hence paper and other resources) and costs to purchasers and readers.
Because we operate as the wholesale and retail distributor of our own books, and in an endeavour to deliver books continent- and world-wide in a timely fashion, we exclusively use in the first instance the broad community-based delivery services of Canada Post rather than more convenient but less energy efficient land or air-based courier services. This usually means, for example, that we use surface shipping rather than air freight for international packages making for a longer delivery period but a lesser carbon footprint.
Besides constraining our use of paper and waste by primarily employing print-on-demand and digital technologies (as well as web-based downloadable books and chapters, in the near future) we have implemented a tree-planting programme. We understand the pros and cons of such reforestation activities for carbon offset purposes but we are not explicitly planting to offset our large or expansive use of fossil fuels and other resources. Rather, we see tree planting as an activity complementary to our use of paper products, and other resources, and as a "service" available to authors, contributors, purchasers and readers of our books and friends of our publishing enterprise – people who may see the value of offsetting their own carbon footprints.
Carbon offsets are a means of counteracting the emissions of large volumes of carbon dioxide (which result from mere breathing of animals, humans included). Carbon Offsets are a way of "transforming" various energy and natural resources into forms available for consumption by humans and our various family, community, governmental, industrial, and commercial enterprises. Tree planting is only one of a myriad of such measures but it is one that is readily accessible to us as a small enterprise located in rural Canada.
Our tree-planting program takes place in Ontario and Nova Scotia, Canada on land to which we have long-term access. In both locations we employ local, under employed adults to help us engage in very modest reforestation activities. The nature of the land and the two locations used for planting are:
• Marginal sandy land on the Oak Ridges Moraine in Southern Ontario that was once unwisely clear-cut for agricultural purposes in the late 19th century (and farmed unproductively for decades though to the early 21st century, depleting the scant soil). The programme provides for replanting the land in species indigenous to the particular micro-region (including sugar and black maples, red and burr oaks, eastern white cedar, black walnut, white and red pine, ash, tamarack, paper birch, and ironbark); and,
• Rocky, thin soiled land on the South Shore of Nova Scotia that, 250 years ago, supported a mixed hardwood forest, was cleared and made rough pasture land in the mid 1800s and, over many decades of "neglect" became "naturally" reforested by conifer species. The conifers, in turn, were decimated by insect infestations over the last two decades of the 20th century. Now, at the end of the first decade of the 21st century, we are replanting it in a variety of species which are also indigenous to the local area (including black spruce, white pine, oak, maple, and fir).
We expect that these young seedlings and saplings planted through our efforts will grow over time into fully mature trees, living the course of their natural lifespan (and meeting modest biodiversity goals), in a lightly managed natural environment. Growth levels are determined by climate and soils, as well as species, so that over the course of its existence each tree "breathes in" about 1 tonne of carbon dioxide emissions. Some estimations suggest that the average person needs to "save"about 7 tonne of carbon dioxide per year so that a goal of planting 7 trees per year per person is perhaps very modest and worthwhile. For those who make extensive use of high energy consuming transportation forms (such as aircraft travel), doubling or tripling the numbers of newly planted trees (the carbon offset) for one's purposes may be beneficial. As for Backalong Books, we are committed to planting tree seedlings (very small, young trees up to 30cm tall) and saplings (which are more advanced, up to 150cm) in proportion to our sales of books. We will always plant at a time of year most conducive to the successful establishment of new trees, mindful of the often inaccurate nature of all human predictions and forecasts of weather patterns and changes.
We have two planting strategies: One for us and one for you (authors, contributors and friends of our enterprise).
For every 100 books sold we will plant 10 trees.
We will plant trees for you. Wei nvite you to purchase your tree-based carbon offsets from us. It costs about $3.00 per seedling tree or $7.00 per sapling tree to successfully plant and tend but costs decrease with volume of trees planted.
To Purchase Trees
• For $20.00 per year we will plant and tend 7 seedling trees (1 tonne)
• For $35.00 per year we will plant and tend 14 seedling trees (2 tonne)
• For $60.00 per year we will plant and tend 28 seedling trees (4 tonne)
• For $110.00 per year we will plant and tend 56 seedling trees (8 tonne)
• For $48.00 per year we will plant and tend 7 sapling trees (1 tonne)
• For $90.00 per year we will plant and tend 14 sapling trees (2 tonne)
• For $170.00 per year we will plant and tend 28 sapling trees (4 tonne)
• For $320.00 per year we will plant and tend 56 sapling trees (8 tonne)
We will endeavour to nurture all seedlings and saplings to youthful maturity but we expect that the forces of nature will thwart a small proportion of our efforts: inclement weather conditions; changing climates; insect, fungal and other infestations; and animal and human interference.