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Russian Eco-Publishing House Finds Its Stride

To reduce its own ecological production, the Green Book team work remotely and paperless.

Published: May 22, 2014 (Issue # 1811)



  • Green Office and Green Driver are just some of the guides available by the niche Green Book publishing house.
    Photo: Zelenaya Kiniga

  • The publishing house aims to educate readers on environmental awareness.
    Photo: Sergei Porter / Vedomosti

In Russia, a country where environmental pollution is a major problem, various projects aimed at protecting nature have started to emerge in recent years. Yekaterina Voronina, an ardent advocate of this new movement, decided to set up a publishing house based on green technologies and issue books on environmental issues.

When Voronina decided to start the project two years ago, she had a Ph.D. in environmental studies, a shelf of books about running a company and no real business experience whatsoever. However, this did not frighten her and even made her more enthusiastic.

Studying at the Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology for a second degree, I realized there are no books in Russia about practical ecology. How do you make your office eco-friendly? How do you find out which products harm the environment, and which do not? All these questions were left unanswered for the Russian reader, Voronina said.

So she started thinking how to fill the gap. As she did not have any experience in book publishing she decided to apply for a position of a sales manager in a big Russian publishing house to gain some practical skills. However, she was not offered the position. This disturbed her slightly, but gave her the drive to carry on and accomplish her goal create her own publishing house.

Voronina and four other partners made a joint effort to set up a company. They raised 100,000 rubles ($2,800) as starting capital. This is how Zelyonaya Kniga, or Green Book, was born.

When I started the whole thing, no one really believed I could succeed. Everybody was looking at me like I was crazy, Voronina said. However, to for her the whole idea seemed so ingenious, that she just had to carry on.

As the company celebrated its second birthday in March this year, the results were remarkable. Green Book has published three books with significant circulations for such niche literature, with about 3,000 copies printed per book. In 2012 all debts were repaid and turnover for 2013 reached 5 million rubles ($140,000), which for so small an eco-startup is a significant achievement.

Green Book tries to keep its ecological footprint to a minimum. The paper for books is either recycled or certified by the Forest Stewardship Council of Russia, a body that checks whether the paper is made from sustainably grown and harvested woods. The ink for the paper is water-based, which is considered to be the most ecologically friendly.

In addition, the company calculates the carbon footprint of production. The footprint actually shows the amount of greenhouse gases released into the air during the production process. To compensate for the harm done to nature, which is inevitable, Voronina and her colleagues plant trees. So in the end, the books become 100 percent eco-friendly.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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