The Tennessee Conservationist is living up to its name
In our “Conversations with Green Champions,” Rolland President Philip Rundle speaks with sustainability-minded organizations about their approach to environmental responsibility.
Heather Lose, Editor-In-Chief of The Tennessee Conservationist, talks about printing the photography-rich magazine sustainably while retaining the great image quality that readers expect, by switching to 100 percent post-consumer paper from Rolland.
The broader contributions to sustainability by Tennessee State Parks and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) are covered by Brock Hill, Deputy Commissioner, Bureau of Parks and Conservation.
The Conservationist is the magazine of the 56 Tennessee State Parks
- Stories on the native species, history, archeology and culture of Tennessee, helping readers connect with nature and recreational and educational activities in the parks.
- Published in Nashville six times a year by Tennessee State Parks, established in 1937, a division of TDEC.
What triggered your decision to make The Tennessee Conservationist more sustainable?
HL: With that name, the magazine just has to be sustainable! We had a conviction to do the right thing and switch to 100 percent post-consumer paper that is FSC-certified1, printed with environmentally-friendly UV ink2. FSC serves as a seal of approval on the sources of the fiber. And our survey of readers made it clear we should make our print magazine as sustainable as possible while retaining top-notch image quality.
What made you choose Rolland?
HL: Once we decided on 100 percent post-consumer paper, I set out to find the right product. The Conservationist is very much about photography so it is important to not only be as sustainable as possible, but also as beautiful as possible.
I looked at various samples and just loved the feel of Rolland Enviro™ Print. When I picked up examples of publications printed on that stock, from Patagonia for example, and saw the reproduction quality of the photographs I said to myself, “this is what we are looking for.”
What is the reaction to the first issue printed on Rolland paper?
HL: Great comments from long-time readers and from people here at TDEC. It is so gratifying that our vision is finding a receptive audience. And people understand why we made these changes.
People are also commenting on how good the magazine looks. And how wonderful it feels in your hands – which is huge – because the tactile experience is an essential part of the appeal of this magazine. We have 44 pages this issue, and 48 the next, and work hard to make each page top-notch, editorially and visually.
Do you have a particular vision for the magazine, as a product?
HL: We want The Tennessee Conservationist to be an object of desire, something readers want to hold, to leaf through as they sit down with a cup of coffee. Readers told us they want to get away from their computer screens and take the time to read a magazine that feels substantial – and so that is what we are producing. If you are asking yourself, “what is the higher purpose of print magazines in the media stream,” I think our readers nailed it.
What are the magazine’s big-picture priorities?
HL: As a magazine devoted to conservation, we want to lead by example and show that sustainability and product quality can live together comfortably. We can’t ask others to do their best if we are not doing our best. We have also switched to 100 percent post-consumer Rolland paper for note cards, subscription gift cards and resubscription cards.
What are TDEC’s other sustainability priorities for the coming year?
BH: They include community resilience, particularly in rural environments; increasing the sustainability of food systems; and increasing the sustainability of the state’s water resources from both a quality and quantity perspective.
How does the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation contribute to sustainability?
BH: At the most basic level, all of TDEC’s activities make a contribution. Our focus is on improving the quality of the state’s air, land and water; protecting and promoting human health; conserving natural, cultural and historic resources; and providing outdoor recreational experiences to ensure the environmental, social, and economic prosperity of Tennessee and its citizens.
Specific programs promote environmental stewardship, sustainability and resiliency to stakeholders of all types through grants and loans, technical assistance, research, recognition, education and outreach, and leadership-by-example.
What is the main environmental role of the Tennessee State Parks system?
BH: To protect and preserve the unique natural, cultural and historic resources of Tennessee. As stewards, we work to protect our natural assets while interpreting their value to park visitors.
We have expanded on this through our Go Green With Us program, which launched in 2015. Tennessee State Parks have enhanced their environmental stewardship while reducing their carbon footprint through resource conservation, sustainable operations and management, and recycling. This has created an even better visitor experience while saving taxpayer money.
How does The Conservationist take on an advocacy role related to the natural environment?
HL: Next issue will provide a great example in a story called The Nature Prescription. We are finding that when people spend more time outdoors, their health improves. And doctors across the country have literally started writing prescriptions for parks. With someone who is suffering from, say, diabetes, a doctor will say, “I want you to hike for half an hour four days a week,” and that person’s health does actually improve. Stories that get people outside and active in beautiful parks do make a difference and are a form of advocacy.
Articles on wild flowers or camping trips can also pull people into the parks, where they can see the wonders of nature that you cannot find on a screen. We want readers to see themselves as fellow conservationists, and to question themselves about everyday decisions like buying single-use plastic bottles that are not good for the environment. It’s a matter of making readers more conscious about the world around us, and how our actions have an impact.
Do you see the magazine as a green champion?
HL: I looked up the definition of champion and one of its synonyms is advocate. I am very comfortable describing The Conservationist, published since 1937, as a green advocate. We fill that role with stories about conservation and the environment that draw people into Tennessee State Parks. And there is a sense of advocacy in telling the story of how we have made the magazine more reader-friendly, and as sustainable as a print publication can be.
1 Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) is an international certification and labeling system dedicated to promoting responsible forest management of the world’s forests.
2 UV ink is exposed to ultra-violet lights during printing, drying immediately with almost no absorption of the ink into the paper, and without releasing VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that contribute to climate change.