Some of you have asked about the polybag that comes wrapped around your copy of The Dramatist. Why is it necessary when Vogue and Scientific American is delivered without one? The short answer is that polybagging our magazine is the most cost effective and (believe it or not) eco-friendly way of ensuring the magazine reaches you in one piece.
Here’s the long answer:
Several years ago, the postal service began rolling out new sorting machines across the country. These machines are faster at sorting mail, but they also tend to shred saddle stitched publications like ours. As more machines were installed, we had to replace more destroyed magazines. This resulted in us having to overprint our usual order to accommodate for the replacement copies. Printing more copies means more paper, more ink, more money, more labor, more emissions from redelivering replacement magazines, and way too much waste.
Many of the profitable, advertising-driven periodicals on the market that had once been saddle stitched, raised their ad rates and shifted to perfect binding, which has a much higher survival rate in the new sorting machines. That’s why your copy of Vanity Fair can arrive intact without a polybag.
Why not move to perfect binding and ditch the bags?
What a great question! Thank you for asking. Two reasons:
1. Perfect binding would add more than $4,000 per issue to the production costs of The Dramatist.
2. Perfect binding is less eco-friendly than the polybags.
Because of the way it’s made (similar to a paperback book), perfect bound magazines require glue to hold the pages to the spine, and many binding glues are toxic. Additionally, there is more paper waste per copy since the cover stock is bent to cover the spine, resulting in slightly different dimensions that often can’t be evenly cut from standard-sized stock.
Saddle stitch binding uses the maximum amount of full sheets of standard stock and creates the least paper waste. Bekka Lindstrom (our designer) and I try to make sure each issue of The Dramatist is built in multiples of four pages, which further ensures we’re creating less waste. Saddle stitch is the least expensive binding method and most eco-friendly since it requires no glue. In addition to looking great on your coffee table, the entire magazine is recyclable and biodegradable!
Also, our polybags are made from 50% recycled plastic. Like the #4 produce bags, these polybags can be recycled in the very same collection bins found at many grocery stores. Our local Home Depot has a collection bin. Maybe yours does too!
As soon as BioBags made from 100% biodegradable plant matter are available to us at an affordable price, we’ll switch to those. Our printer is on alert! (If anyone reading this works for a BioBag manufacturer and would like to sponsor The Dramatist by sending us bags, contact me.)
Why not stop printing altogether and move the entire publication online?
You’re so smart. Right now, we’re working on creating a new online experience for The Dramatist set to roll out soon. In fact, due to pandemic-era budget cuts, our July/August and September/October issues will be published online only this year. Our savvy, eco-minded members should know, however, that digital media still has a real and measurable carbon footprint. [See “What’s the Carbon Footprint of Your Website?” by Sarah-Indra Jungblut for Reset: Digital for Good]
While we are taking a temporary hiatus from printing this summer, we know that the experience of reading The Dramatist in print is something that many of our members cherish and is an experience that can’t be duplicated in digital format.
Expect both print and digital versions of our first-ever Opera Issue of The Dramatist in November/December 2021, and then, you can read the version you prefer!