Friday, November 7, 2014

Does Going Paperless Really Save Trees?

So what do you think about this statement? Save Paper. Save Trees. Save the World. 
Print Media Centr

If any of you have received an email form me and read my bye line you know exactly how I feel on this subject.  It states:
Notice:  It is OK to print this e-mail.  Paper is a renewable product made from trees.  Growing and harvesting trees provides family-supporting jobs for millions of men and women.  Working forests are good for the environment providing wood products, wildlife habitat, clean water, and carbon storage.

So, when I saw this article in the Society of American Foresters e-news I wanted to share it with my readers. I have felt strongly that the wise use of our forest resource is what is going to save them, it is what is going to keep forests working as forests. When forest owners have markets for the products they produce, owners are less likely to sell and/or subdivide. When markets are good, forest land is more likely to stay as forests providing all the benefits they provide including; wood products, wildlife habitat, clean water, and carbon sequestration. Without strong local markets there is little incentive for owners to maintain their forest land and often times it ends up getting sold, developed and otherwise converted to non-forest use.

Another fact to keep in mind is that we are still going to be using paper and other forest products, that demand is going to continue.  Would we rather see those products harvested from well managed and often times certified "sustainable" local forests or from foreign 3rd world countries with no regulations or management based on science? It is also important to keep in mind energy inputs.  One that comes to mind is when I see electric hand dryers in restrooms claiming they are eco-friendly by NOT using paper towels to dry your hands.  Are they really?  Where is the energy source coming from to create that electricity?  Hmm...interesting. Does going paperless really save trees? Be sure to read the bulleted points below. In reality, there is a place for both paper and e-media.

Thirty Leading North American Companies Remove "Go Paperless – Save Trees” Claims
by: Phil Riebel 11/03/2014
CHICAGO (November 3, 2014) - Today, Two Sides North America, Inc. announced that over 30 leading North American companies have committed to remove “anti-paper” based claims being used to promote electronic billing and other e-services as more environmentally-friendly. The Two Sides campaign is engaged with top Fortune 500 organizations in the banking, utilities and telecommunications sectors as well as digital service companies.  Alan Anglyn, Sprint’s Director of IT Care & Billing Services Business Management notes, “One of the benefits of our relationship with Two Sides has been the opportunity to reflect on how we communicate our efforts.  This caused us to review Sprint’s messaging about electronic media across multiple touch points.”

“Many in the graphic communications industry, from family forest owners to paper mills, printers, mailers and related businesses, are tired of seeing misleading environmental claims about print and paper.  Our campaign has been focused on educating corporate marketers on the unique social and environmental benefits of print and paper, and to ensure that claims used to promote e-services are based on credible science and facts,” states Two Sides North America President Phil Riebel.
Two Sides’ main reasons for challenging “Go Paperless – Save Trees” claims are:
  • They do not meet guidelines for environmental marketing established by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Competition Bureau of Canada.
  • They are damaging to the North American economy and threaten jobs.   In the U.S. alone, a total of 8.4 million jobs that generate $1.3 trillion in sales revenue depend on the U.S. mailing industry, which includes paper production, printing production, related suppliers, graphic design and the handling and distribution of mail (Envelope Manufacturers Association, 2013).
  • The income landowners receive for trees grown on their land is an important incentive to maintain, sustainably manage and renew this valuable resource. If the market for their wood products is lost, there is little incentive for owners to maintain their forest land (which is then sold to developers and converted to non-forest use).  
  • Print on paper originates from a renewable resource – trees grown in responsibly managed North American forests, is recyclable, and is the most recycled commodity with recovery rates of 63% or higher (American Forest & Paper Association, 2014). 
  • In North America, we grow more trees than we harvest.  Over the last six decades, total net U.S. forest area has increased by over 3% and the net volume of trees on timberland has increased by 58% (U.S. Forest Service, 2012).  In Canada, the forest cover has remained stable over the last two decades and harvest has been 44% of annual growth (Conference Board of Canada, 2014).
  • The environmental and social impacts of switching from paper to e-media are not properly or adequately considered - and they are far from negligible.  The trade‐off between the two platforms depends on conditions such as use frequency, source of energy, and end‐of‐life management of the products (P. Arnfalk, 2010).
  • Consumer surveys found that 50% or more of U.S. respondents don’t believe, feel misled or question “Go Paperless – Save Trees” claims, and that over 80% agreed that e-billing and e-statements are being promoted to save costs (Toluna and Two Sides, 2013).
 To read the rest of the story click here.

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