To print or not… sustainable forest influence

 In Article, History

We all probably have received emails with a footer message at the bottom which suggests we should think before printing the email. For years, when I was in the corporate world, I saw this as a very common occurrence. The main corporate goal was to prevent the overuse and storage of paper with an underlying theme of environmental savings.

Recently I was introduced to “the other side.” While visiting an envelope manufacturer, I watched a video in the reception area which focused on sustainable renewable forest management. I have long been aware of this concept, but the video was enlightening. It was presented by Two Sides North America, a graphics communication industry non-profit organization.

My desire to find out more information prompted a search via the Two Sides North American website and Here is what I found:

  • Paper production supports sustainable forest management. Over the last 60 years, the net total U.S. forest area has increased by over 3% and the net volume of trees on forestland has increased by 58%. In Canada, the forest cover has remained stable over the last two decades and the area harvested each year represents less than 0.5% of Canada’s 860 million acres of total forest land.
  • Paper is the most recycled material in the world today with recovery rates ranging from 65% to almost 80% in North America, Western Europe and Japan. in North America, paper is recycled more than any other commodity in the municipal solid waste stream, including plastics, glass and metals.
  • North American forests are a renewable resource that are continuously replenished using sustainable forest management.
  • Clean air and clean water are products of forests. The role of trees and forests in our ecosystems is absolutely critical. Forests renew our air supply by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. Trees also clean our atmosphere by intercepting airborne particles, and by absorbing ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and other greenhouse gases. A single tree can absorb 10 pounds of air pollutants a year, and produce nearly 260 pounds of oxygen- enough to support two people.

The day after viewing the video, I received an email from a different contact unrelated to the envelope manufacturer. It contained the following footer:

Notice: It’s OK to print this email. Paper is a biodegradable, renewable, sustainable product made from trees. Growing and harvesting trees provides jobs for millions of Americans. Working forests are good for the environment and provide clean air and water, wildlife habitat and carbon storage. Thanks to improved forest management, we have more trees in America today than we had 100 years ago.

The connection between both events was a eureka moment for me. If you have the desire to find out more information, it is available on either website.

To print or not to print… I will no longer feel guilty when I print an email or an article to save.

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