Use Paper Whilst Looking After The Planet

Working in an office, I find myself a prolific paper user - which I’m sure many of you can relate to?! Whether it’s the running of reports, filing important documents, or even just making notes, I find my desk is covered in a blanket of white sheets.

Working in the paper industry, I know that paper isn’t harming the planet, but I want you to know that as well; and to enjoy the use of it without feeling guilty! Paper can be produced through sustainable practices that have little impact on the environment. If you research in enough depth as to how paper is produced and recycled, you will see that your usage can in fact have some benefit to the earth! You just have to know where your paper comes from and where it is going.

“Forest is carbon negative, which a strip mall is not!”

Forests… The most important element as to where your paper comes from. If the paper is produced from a young tree in a managed/private forest, then it is seen as environmentally neutral. Due to the forests being managed on private land, the owners expect a return; which shows that the paper made from these trees is monetarily beneficial. Due to these forests being profitable, it prevents the land from being industrialised and depleted. These forests may not always be biodiverse, however a forest is carbon negative, which a strip mall is not! Fortunately the industry has a carbon neutral energy source – Organic waste. Burning this returns the carbon that was previously absorbed by a living tree.

According to Two Sides myths and facts, between 2005 and 2015, European forests grew by 44,000 Square Kilometres – that’s an area bigger than Switzerland and amounts to over 1,500 football pitches every day! We are not destroying forests, however simply creating more of them. There are many rules and regulations created to eradicate the use of fibre which has been imported from places without forest management laws. By using paper that has the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC® C128897) certification, you can be sure that your usage of paper is in fact helping the planet. For more information on FSC®, please click here. 

“Some paper companies have been able to eliminate chlorine use”

Another accreditation to look out for is TCF (Totally Chlorine Free) – Some companies have been able to reduce, if not, eliminate their chlorine use. The negative reputation the paper industry has is due to it traditionally having a hefty toxic footprint, which was as a result of the use of chlorine to bleach wood fibres. This then impacted our waterways by intoxicating them. The use of chlorine in paper production is reducing and taking the right steps to be more environmentally friendly. If you check the accreditations, you can make smart choices.

We’re often told to “Go Green” and “Save the Trees” – even some of you may have that message in your email signature? Organisations are trying to get their customers to switch to electronic transactions and communications to ‘help’ the environment. But do they know that electronic communication also has impacts on the environment? As mentioned, paper is both a renewable and sustainable product, however we cannot ignore the fact that the ICT industry is accountable to 2% of global emissions!

“If compared with the electricity demand of countries in the same year, the cloud would rank 6th in the world, with demand expected to increase 63% by 2020.”

Greenpeace, 2014

Each year, the electronic industry - one of the world’s largest and fastest growing - generates up to 41 million tonnes of e-waste from goods such as computers and smart phones.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 2015

Hopefully this has helped you get a better understanding of the paper industry and it isn’t as bad as people make out. Don’t feel bad when using paper, as you now know what to look for when buying it. You have the choice to be environmentally sound, so do your part for the environment whilst using paper!

Georgie x

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