Ecological and social footprint" is not a term that's been on the minds of many executives in the publishing industry, at least until recently. That's what the Green Press Initiative is hoping, anyway. Aiming to get publishers thinking about their impact on the world, the industry's main environmental provocateur is campaigning to get its biggest effort—the Treatise on Recycled Paper Use—signed by all publishing's major players. But even with the general press so focused on all things green, will it be enough to get businesses to look beyond their bottom lines?

While last week's cover story in Newsweek, "The Greening of America" pointed to the current trend in green thinking, Rachel Donadio's piece in the July 9NYTBR, "Saving the Planet One Book at a Time," asked a more potent question for the book industry: Can businesses built on cutting down trees ever be environmentally friendly?

Tyson Miller at the Green Press Initiative certainly thinks so. He's been pushing publishers to start rethinking the way they make their books for the past five years. And while his efforts have garnered a fair amount of attention, Miller told PW he thinks many in the industry are still unaware of the far-reaching effects of paper use, effects outlined in the document compiled by some 30 industry members.

The Treatise, which was finalized a little over a month ago, has been signed by 111 publishers, although it hasn't yet been backed by any of the largest houses. To date, the largest publisher on board is Chronicle, while the two major printers who've signed are Thompson-Shore and Sheridan Books. Random House, which came out with its much-ballyhooed public commitment to use recycled paper in May, notably chose to go its own way on the matter.

Nevertheless, Miller sees Random's move as a positive sign for encouraging the other big players to come on board with their own commitments. But when PW asked three other major houses about their corporate recycling efforts, Simon & Schuster was the only one to volunteer any information. According to S&S spokesperson Adam Rothberg, while the house had not targeted a specific number in its efforts, he expects its percentage of postconsumer recycled fiber will go up in both 2006 and 2007.

Citing more overlooked aspects of the Treatise—the aim to increase the use of recycled paper from an average of 5% to 30% by 2011 is the most significant and oft-cited goal—Miller thinks many are unaware of farther-reaching implications of the business's reliance on paper. While, expectedly, the use of alternative fibers and efforts to protect endangered forests are rolled into the document, so, too, are issues involving cheap overseas labor and the acquisition of raw materials from land owned by indigenous people.

If the goals of the Treatise sound a little lofty, Miller believes it's just a matter of broadening peoples' perspectives. "There might be a lot of paper buyers at the company who know this information, but the CEO might not. We're trying to get the people with vision," he said. Blaming an industry-wide "inertia" on the fact that the Treatise has yet to take hold at the major houses, Miller thinks "the biggest hurdle is instituting a mindset change."

Of course some feel that a mindset change won't happen until consumers demand it. Miller, who's put quite a bit of effort into keeping talks with publishers nonconfrontational, said that if the Treatise doesn't gain widespread traction there is the possibility that more vocal forms of protest, from outside groups, could follow. "The Treatise was developed as a safe way for the industry to do this and as a means of avoiding major negative pressure," he said. He then added: "If we can't get the major multinationals behind this, though, there could be boycotts."