Keeping the outdoors wild with Beside magazine

by Grace Wang in May 2017

On Earth Day a few weeks back, we asked our favourite sustainability-conscious publishers for tips on eco-friendly magazine making. Among them was Beside, the magazine dedicate to outdoor movement. It’s filled with travel pieces, instructions on tackling obstacles in the wild, and guides for canoeing or suggested routes for trekking, for those who enjoy nature or want to experience it more. There’s a lot to be learned from the Montreal-based publication, from the paper they use to their innovative distribution model. They’ve just released issue two, so we caught up with editor-in-chief Catherine Métayer to find out more…


Beside uses Rolland Enviro paper, which is 100% post consumer. What does that mean?
Rolland Enviro paper is entirely made of fibres from recycled paper and cardboard. It means that no trees were cut to produce the paper. This paper is also chlorine free, FSC certified, Ecologo certified, as well as Ancient Forest Friendly. For every ton of Enviro paper we use to print our magazine, we save: 17 trees, 16399 gallons of water, 5492 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions and 1674 pounds of solid waste. And the great thing is, we are not compromising on quality. This paper has the exact feel we are looking for, and it ensures the printing quality we need to fill our magazine with high definition photography and illustrations.


You have an innovative distribution model, tell us about it…
Sustainability is on our minds at all times, and it became particularly relevant when we had to decide how to go about distributing our first issue. Generally, 70% of magazines given to distributors are thrown away. Instead, we decided to take care of our distribution ourselves, to avoid the waste large distributors were imposing on us. And we are proud to say that in the end, we only reached a 3% waste.

It was indeed a lot of work, to contact every single retailer in North America ourselves, from independent bookstores to small design boutiques and larger outdoor retailers, but reinventing the traditional distribution model has been rewarding, and the relationships we’ve built with our retailers are personal and long-lasting. For the occasion, we also organised a coast-to-coast distribution road trip, during which we physically visited retailers from Nova Scotia all the way to Oregon. In the end, environmental sustainability is also inspiring in us a more creative and sustainable business model.


What other steps do you take in ensuring a low carbon footprint?
As for the content of the magazine, for both environmental and editorial reasons, we work with a list of contributors from across America and Europe, and this way, if an interviewee is located in San Francisco, for example, we can ask a local writer or photographer to take upon the assignment.

For our issue two, we’ve decided to take one more step toward reducing our footprint. We’re pairing each of our launch events with a cleanup initiative. We’ll be gathering our community for riverbank cleanups, alongside local nonprofits such as Surf the Greats in Toronto, Coeur intelligent in Montreal, United by Blue in Philadelphia and PurNat in Quebec City.


From Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard to surf photographer Chris Burkard, what are some of the people you feature in Beside?
In each issue, we bring together a diverse range of people who strive on a daily basis to protect nature — from adventurers to ecologists, farmers, philosophers, photographers and entrepreneurs — who bring challenging ideas and projects to the table. In issue 01, we’ve tried to understand what’s at the heart of our connection to nature, and exchanged on the subject with Yvon Chouinard, Robert Moor, Getaway, Alex Strohl, She Explores, and other wonderful guests, to try to pinpoint what’s common to all of them, despite their various profiles.

In this issue two, we’re tackling a new question: we’re breaking down the concept of conservation into a range of inspiring and thought-provoking topics that all answer the fundamental question: how do we keep the outdoors wild? We brought together the texts and photos of the incredible surf photographer Chris Burkard, the bison rancher and author Dan O’Brien, the native environmental activist Kandi Mossett, the sound ecologist Bernie Krause, as well as many others.


I loved the piece by Robert Moor about losing our safety net in the wilderness, which sits alongside guides to knot-tying and fly fishing — what action do you hope to inspire in your readers?
This is a great example of how we like to mix different angles and perspectives on the outdoors and sustainability. Ultimately, what we are hoping is to reconnect people with nature, and to foster the flourishing community of outdoor enthusiasts in North America and around the world — be they surfers, canoe-ers, photographers, entrepreneurs, conservationists or essayists. We want to give the stage to creative people empowered by nature, adventure and sustainability by circulating new perspectives, conversations and practical knowledge on sustainability and the outdoors. And we want to do it in an artful, inspiring and accessible way.


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