We all see the “save a tree” encouragements designed to shame us into not using paper, but are they really true? No, in North America trees are doing just fine thanks. It is blatant greenwashing.
The forests of North America cover more ground on Earth Day 2016 than they did when Sen. Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day on April 22, 1970. The volume of trees growing in North America forests today is 49% greater than 50 years ago. Properly managed forests that are used for lumber, pulp and paper production are a significant reason for the growth of forest lands.
The paper Western Web uses has the highest available percentage of Post-Consumer Waste (PCW). Why don’t we buy 100% PCW newsprint? It isn’t available any longer largely due to the impact of exports of recycled paper to Asia which have driven the price of recycled paper up. That market dynamic drove the last 100% recycled mill in the West out of business five years ago.
That is not the only reason. The truth is recycled paper and paper from well-managed forests are each critical. Paper can only be recycled up to seven times before the fiber breaks down and can’t be used. Sustainable forestry is crucial for many reasons.
In addition to PCW, the content of our paper comes from lumber mill waste; sawdust and tree parts that can’t be milled into lumber. The trees come from certified Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) sources. Sustainable forestry practices by definition prevent deforestation. SFI sourced trees provide income for landowners which encourages them to maintain the forest and not convert to other uses. Worldwide forest land is decreasing as forest is converted to agriculture, mining or urban sprawl. That is not good as one acre of 25 year old trees can absorb 6,529 pounds of carbon each year. The USDA says US forests alone offset approximately 13% of the total fossil fuel emissions in the US. According to the U.N. world forestry report, “Trees and wood are still the world’s best and proven way to capture and store carbon. They hold significant potential to mitigate climate change.”
Maintaining the size of our forests is imperative and a sustainable harvest of this most renewable resource ensures the forests thrive. Paper is good.
So when your bank, or your insurance company says, “Save a tree, go paperless” you’ll know that the truth is more like “Go paperless and increase our profits!” Go paperless or not, but don’t fall for their greenwashing garbage.