Don't let the WWF spoil your Christmas break

Darryl Danielli
Thursday, December 16, 2010

There I was, gently filling up with Christmas cheer, a warm glow of yuletide anticipation spreading through my bones, and then I come across a seemingly harmless press release from a respected environmental body and 'goodwill to all men' suddenly seems a distant memory.

The initiative, launched by the German wing of WWF, is essentially a PDF format that doesn’t allow the user to print the document, but only view it... on a carbon-chugging computer screen.

The emotive video to support the release states that "every day entire forests die for paper… a PDF file can contain as many pages as a whole tree, so with a simple PDF you could save an entire tree".

Sadly, being editor of such a respected organ prevents me from writing my initial response, but let’s just say the above sounded like Greek mythology, specifically one of Zeus’s offspring – Pollux.

However, once the red mist had dispersed, I started thinking about the reasoning behind the WWF format. The logical explanation is that someone, somewhere simply thought ‘wow, what a great PR exercise’.

And that, rather than the ill-conceived execution, is the larger problem. When the WWF speaks, people listen and, more importantly the message that print and paper is inherently bad for the environment is much simpler message to ‘sell’ than the fact that print and paper produced sustainably is the most environmentally friendly method of communication.

I appreciate that by stating this in the pages of PrintWeek, I’m preaching to the converted, but WWF’s initiative highlights the challenge we face to convince a general public that is predisposed to think of print and paper as the eco bogeymen and electronic communications as the saviour of ancient forests, that, in fact, the opposite is true.

Anyway, now that I’ve got that off my chest, here’s wishing you a merry Christmas and a happy new year and hoping that you will enjoy, as I will, a beautifully roasted Riverine Rabbit (apparently there are a few hundred left) while relaxing in front of a roaring fire fuelled with the last Pennantia baylisiana tree on earth. After all, if we’re already damned – we may as well enjoy it.

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