Since 2016, BESIDE has been inspiring people to build more meaningful lives at the crossroads of culture and nature through its biannual magazine, which is distributed around the world and printed on 100% sustainable recycled Rolland paper. In this article, Jean-Daniel talks about how creativity and positivity drive the company’s sustainability practices, why they chose to expand into real estate, and how printing physical magazines creates hundreds of thousands of constant billboards in homes and offices around the world.
BESIDE publishes a biannual print magazine in French and English, which is distributed around the world.
- The magazine covers stories, ideas, skills, and knowledge at the crossroads of nature and has sold more than 100,000 copies.
- BESIDE also has a web platform which features exclusive video and audio content, and hosts events, ranging from workshops to talks and creative outdoor camps.
- In 2019, BESIDE developed its first destination in the Lanaudière region of Québec. BESIDE Habitat is a collective of thoughtfully designed dwellings, surrounded by 1,250 acres of natural, private parkland and lakes, that invites guests to reconnect with the great outdoors.
1. How does BESIDE integrate sustainability into its business model?
BESIDE was created with the objective of passing down knowledge about nature to inspire others to protect it. The values of quality, kindness, and environmental awareness are infused into everything we do. This includes printing our flagship magazine on 100% high-quality sustainable recycled paper.
When it comes to business, our definition of sustainability is different than what you often hear. For us, it’s not just about making decisions with the environment and society in mind, it’s also an exercise in perpetuity. It’s about finding a balance between idealism and realism. We want to be sustainable by ensuring BESIDE is still here in 50 years.
We built our company with this long-term vision. Every year, we try to have a bigger impact on people, on the planet, and on the ecosystem. This approach is what led us from starting with a magazine to buying, developing, and protecting land with BESIDE Habitat. And the next phase will be purchasing land and protecting it without the need for development. By 2030, we want to protect 500 million square feet of natural land in North America.
2. Why did you choose to distribute a paper magazine?
We liked the idea of creating something beautiful that you can hold in your hands, take your time with, and enjoy.
We compare ourselves to Mini-Wheats. Just like Mini-Wheats, we have two sides. Our frosted side is the design and quality of the magazine – it’s a visual treat. The wheat side is the content. Our content is rich and of value to our readers. It’s rare in the magazine world to have both.
We’ve now sold more than 100,000 magazines. The way I see it, these are like 100,000 mini billboards out in the world. The paper enables the magazine to exist as a perpetual object.
3. What led you to choose Rolland?
Integrity is one of BESIDE’s core values. If we want to get closer to nature and reduce consumption, using 100% recyclable paper is critical. That being said, we wouldn’t be using Rolland paper if the quality wasn’t there.
Our printer, L’Empreinte, is the one that recommended using Rolland 100% sustainable recycled paper. It combined our environmental value and the high-quality finished product we wanted for the magazine.
We also don’t do traditional advertising. We work with partners who have the same beliefs, and Rolland has believed in BESIDE and our mission from the beginning. Just as importantly for us, Rolland is located in Quebec and so is our printer, so everything is completed in close proximity.
4. How does partnering with Rolland help you achieve your sustainability goals?
By continuing to offer a product that is sustainable and of high quality. This allows us to create a beautiful magazine while staying true to our values.
5. What led you to expand from a magazine to real estate with BESIDE Habitat?
This was a big step for us. When we talk about bridging culture and nature, bringing people to nature was the best way. BESIDE Habitat brings to life everything we have in the magazine. It has become a show piece of how this life is possible.
6. What makes BESIDE a “Green Champion”?
I think what sets us apart is that we use creativity and positivity to drive sustainability. BESIDE is a balance of idealism and realism. We encourage environmental action, but we avoid all non-constructive discussions that often accompanies it. We don’t use marketing buzzwords to achieve our goals. We believe in taking a lot of little actions to move forward in a realistic way.
Photo credits : Catherine Bernier, Kam Vachon, Mathilde Langevin