Born and raised and still living in Annapolis, Jim Martin, 61, has a passion for ecology matters that goes back decades.
Martin has been an active environmentalist since the 70's, when the whole concept of recycling wood, metal and paper was new.
"I grew up in the forest and I’ve always been an advocate of conservation of one kind or another," said Martin.
As he watched the forest being depleted, it became clear that preserving the woods, not cutting them down, was the way to conserve. People need documents printed—pamphlets, flyers, booklets, invitations—for personal and business needs. But a mature tree, used for making paper, among other things, takes many, many years to reach maturity. Constantly cutting them down to make paper isn't necessary if recycling serves the same purpose.
He's a past president of the Severn River Association and a current member of the Scenic Rivers Land Trust. A single man with no children, Martin is the owner of Free State Press, recently relocated to 115 West St.
Martin's business-related recycling began in 1976 with metal printing plates and chemicals. Later he included paper. Then he started using recycled paper for print jobs and selling printer paper to customers.
"In the early 90's," Martin recalled, "I was on the county's recycling advisory board on an ad hoc commission [advocating] the city to involve itself in recycling. We recycled 100 percent of paper and all plastic, metal and glass in the City of Annapolis's commercial recycling program. We advocated for years and were finally in business in 2010."
"We use a lot of 100 percent recycled while most printers in the area don't. Most have recycled content. We use post-consumer 100 percent recycled [paper]. No trees were cut to make it," he added.
Paper is not the only material to consider with respect to the environment.
"Toners and inks are now made in ways that are used more efficiently in copiers; less toxic than they were some years ago. Toner used to be made with carbon black, metal and pigmentation by various (materials.) Today, it's made from plastic. Metals have been eliminated or minimized," explained Martin.
His first copiers were the Xerox models 3107 and 7000, which were very large machines. At one time, he had the only color copier, Xerox 6500, in all of Anne Arundel County. "It would catch fire sometimes," he mused.
Along came computers made for home and office use, creating a revolution in the printing business, said Martin. People could make their own documents, including illustrations or other images.
When asked where he sees printed-on-paper copy as opposed to electronic documents and publications over the next five years, Martin replies with candor.
“Printing has evolved in 50 year increments, from one technology to another. We are at the end of the paper and ink period and we jumped feet first into the digital world. My instincts are that there will be paper for the next 10 to 20 years, but paper will have less and less impact in our culture,” he said.
He just sold his printing press this year to a company in South Carolina which will likely sell it to businesses in third world countries which are not quite up to speed with computer-generated publishing, he said.
Martin would like consumers to know that, "We have to consume less, consume wisely and try to live in a sustainable world."
Maybe even just one decade at a time.