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If paper is good for straws, why isn’t it good for…paper?

Communications are enhanced by paper. Printed brochures, invitations, on-site signage, a delicate gift card or a treasured book is so much more impactful and conveys so much more emotion than their electronic counterparts.

But: what about the environment? Isn’t all this paper hurting the earth? Trees are the world’s lungs – should we cut them down? Aren’t digital communications the greenest option?

But…but…what about the trees?

You’ve seen that note at the bottom of emails imploring you to ‘save the trees – think twice before you print’. Agreed: it’s an email and probably doesn’t need to come to life on paper. But the statement is not only alarmist – it is based on two false assumptions: that trees are a finite resource and that forests are being recklessly destroyed. Here’s the thing: forests are not static. They renew themselves. And when helped along by sustainable forest management, tree populations are constantly being replenished and thriving.

  • There are 20% more trees in the U.S. today than there were on the first Earth Day celebration in 1970*

OK but…paper is bad for the environment!

You’ve heard about the big switch from plastic straws to paper straws. Paper is touted as the environmentally friendly solution in the world of straws – so if paper is good for straws why is it bad for…paper? Paper is made from wood – a wholly natural resource that is recyclable, renewable and can be sustainably managed.

  • Besides being recycled back into obvious paper products (writing paper, paper towels) – more than 5,000 products can be made from recycled paper*

OK but…digital is still the ‘greenest’ solution

Think of all the smartphones, laptops and devices in use today. There are 1 billion computers on the planet. To manufacture 1 computer, here’s the recipe: 240kg of fossil fuels, 22kg of chemicals, 1.5 tonnes of water plus some toxic ingredients like lead, bromine and arsenic*. Now multiply that by 1 billion. And once the computer dies on you, it doesn’t ever really go away.

This is not to make you feel guilty about electronic devices. We won’t add a little image of a smartphone at the bottom of our printed documents. We just want to challenge the misconceptions around the printed form which can be beautiful, impactful and treasured (until it isn’t – then guess what? It can be recycled!)

*All stats provided by Two Sides, an organization that is telling the sustainability story of print and paper

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