Carbon offsetting is all the rage at the moment. Take a short flight somewhere warm for some well-earned beach time and you get to offset the burnt jet fuel by planting trees. It is difficult to make the connection between a sapling planted in Sweden and a guilt-free sandwich at 35,000 feet, but as the history of world religions shows assuaging guilt has always been big business.
The connection between books and trees is more intuitive. It is estimated that ‘virgin’ paper production for the US market alone accounts for 20 million trees every year. As an avid reader and profligate buyer of books that makes me feel a little uneasy. Ecolibris, which it should be noted is a for-profit organization, has come up with a way to do something about it. Ecolibris users register with the website and decide how many books to balance out. The word ‘offsetting’ is not used, because this isn’t really offsetting. For every book you register a tree is planted by one of several reputable organizations in developing countries, mostly in Africa and South America. In return you get a sticker to put on your ‘balanced’ book.