Paper Kills Trees. I probably would have agreed with this statement before I started at Fineline three years ago. After all, there is so much focus on recycling, reusing, and reducing. How many email signatures do you see that state: “Please consider the environment before printing this email”?
Now, I know better. So I want to make sure you are informed.
Let’s start with the basics: The primary raw material for paper is trees, a renewable resource. The trees in North America used for paper production come from well-managed forests or farms. On average, four million trees are planted each day, which is 300-400% more than those that are harvested. In fact, today, the US has 20% more trees than it did on the 1st Earth Day in 1970.
Something else that you must know is, if forest land isn’t used for renewable purposes, it could well be used for non-forest uses, like growing other crops that are more profitable or selling the land for development. In both of these cases, the forest is removed forever.
Notably, just 11% of the world’s forests are use for paper, while 28% is used for lumber and 53% for fuel!
And, let’s talk about the reuse of paper! Over 63% of paper consumed in the US was recovered for recycling in 2010. Since 1990, paper recovery for recycling has increased 77% and the recycling recovery rate of direct mail has grown nearly 700%.
So, I say “Save a Forest: Print Your Emails!” Read more on this Wall Street Journal opinion article from Chuck Leavell—a musician, tree farmer, environmentalist and author—and Carlton Owen—a forester, wildlife biologist and CEO of U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities.
Stay tuned for my next topic on the environmental impact differences between printed and electronic communications.