Paper Products and Sustainability

Meet the writer: Karen Pieper

Hi, I'm Karen! I've been in the industry for 21 years and can't wait to share my perspective on all things direct mail. I'm currently the Digital Marketing Manager at Letter Jacket Envelopes and deal with tasks from managing the website, facilitating conversations with customers, and much more!

Direct mail programs in this modern day and age can be just as sustainable if not more so than paperless programs. From lumber foresters to mills to raw paper manufacturers, every industry is doing their part to intelligently and responsibly use resources and decrease the impact their business has on the planet. Despite these monumental efforts, some still insist on questioning the relationship between paper products and sustainability. Negative allegations about the environmental impact of using paper or direct mail persist because of a few nasty myths.

To help dispel these myths and assure you that paper-reliant companies are always thinking progressively about how they can help the planet, here are two paper sustainability myths busted courtesy of Letter Jacket:

Myth: Using Paper Leads to Deforestation

To many, the negative consequences of using paper seems obvious. The more paper you use, the thinking goes, the more trees that must be tragically cut down.

The truth is companies that use natural resources must be very diligent about their long-term practices. Clear-cutting forests without any forethought would lead to the harvesters putting themselves out of business in no time flat. Instead, they manage forests intelligently through diligent conservatorship.

In fact, far more trees are planted every single day by the paper and lumber industry than those that are cut down. The USDA Forest Service claims that in America four million trees are planted every day, 1.7 million of which are directly planted and cared for by the wood and paper industries. These industries also widely support ecological research that helps preserve old-growth forests while ensuring a predictable and sustainable crop of new trees to harvest once they mature.

When talking about the problem of deforestation, cattle ranchers and other livestock owners are much more problematic. Clear-cutting to make way for new livestock fields has been one of the largest contributors to rainforest and habitat loss over the past centuries.

Myth #2 — Using Paper Products Enlarges Your Carbon Footprint

Paper use actually has had a shrinking carbon footprint over the past half-century. Advances in recycling technology and an increase in household recycling have both led to giant leaps in the sustainability of paper use. Efforts like these allowed 65-percent of all the paper that was consumed in the U.S. to be reclaimed via recycling in 2012.

Another key factor to remember is that computer-based technologies are not always inherently more sustainable than paper-based processes. A server farm may be getting “dirty” energy from coal plants whereas a paper company like Domtar commits to using significant amounts of renewable energy at their manufacturing facilities.

Worried About Paper Products and Sustainability? Do Your Homework

Consumers who value sustainable practices and reducing their carbon footprint must perform diligent research. They should locate companies like Letter Jacket that only use suppliers that can conform to rigorous SFI certification standards. You can also locate products with a higher level of post-consumer recycled content to ensure that your daily habits are not negatively affecting the planet more than necessary.

Read our post on five ways to make your office more green to do your part this New Year, and make a difference that the planet will appreciate.


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