Editor's Note: What's a person to do?

Author: Kerry Temple ’74

It’s always bothered me that we’ve never used recycled paper to produce the print issue of Notre Dame Magazine.

On our pages, many writers have expressed an appreciation for the environment, its beauty and its gifts. Some of these authors have gotten us to think seriously about the spirituality of the universe and a kind of theology of the natural world. I have a deep love of the land, too.

Printing the magazine on recycled paper, as a way of conserving trees, seemed like a tangible step toward protecting the earth. It would be a way to back up our words, to make good on the ideals espoused here.

Recycled paper, though, presents its own challenges. It comes in endless varieties with widely variable impacts on the environment. We also wondered about print quality and its durability on press rollers. And it costs more.

Could we justify the added expense to those underwriting the magazine? We get significant funding from the University, and half of what we spend on paper, printing, postage and professional fees comes from you, our readers. Paper costs are substantial—accounting for about 60 percent of the $144,000 bill we get each issue from our printer.

We figure you and the University have entrusted us with your financial support, and we want to be good stewards of that investment as we make financial choices weighing cost against quality. Was recycled paper the best use of limited resources? Could we even afford it? What did it mean, ultimately, if we didn’t try to help? What would you think?

I’m writing about this now because this edition of the magazine deals pretty thoroughly with very practical environmental concerns, climate change and the effects of energy use on the economy, our society and the world. We timed this treatment to coincide with the University’s 2008 forum addressing these topics.

I’m also talking about recycled paper right now because this print issue of the magazine is printed on recycled paper—well, 10 percent recycled anyway. The decision seemed to be an affordable compromise, a proper gesture and, we hope, a step in the right direction. We’ll see what happens in the months ahead as we watch how paper costs and our financial footing converse with our good intentions.

That’s the second reason to be talking about this topic here. It offers a great example of what we’re faced with these days, and how a decision to do what’s right gets complicated by competing factors, most notably cost.

Kerry Temple is editor of this magazine.