Thursday, April 26, 2007

Overconsumption Illustrated

Its hard to even imagine a stack of 15 million sheets of office paper but artist Chris Jordan has created graphic images that can help.

A sampling of the current work, described as an American self-portrait, is available online, and dramatically illustrates the voracious consumption of American society.

In the artists' own words,

This new series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 426,000 cell phones retired every day. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs.
Its definitely worth a look, and will make you think twice about printing that next email.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Move Over Office Depot, Now There's Something Greener

We all know by now that green is the new black. Not only is it Hollywood-chic, it also seems to be becoming incredibly profitable for many companies to go green or at least appear to go green.

Of course Earth Day season is upon us and every company under the sun is scrambling for positive PR by doing everything from sponsoring local Earth Day events to running special sales or in the case of Office Depot (NYSE: ODP) launching a green portal and providing 10 tips on going green.

The tips varied from buying "greener" products to recycling to buying your very own renewable energy credits. You can check out the whole list here.

Tips are nice, but we all know action speaks louder than words, and so it was refreshing to read a story in Sunday's San Jose Mercury News that highlighted Green Earth Office Supply in San Jose, CA that not only talks the talk, but walks the walk selling all things green from clipboards made of reclaimed materials like Silicon Valley's old circuit boards to 100% recycled paper to compostable silverware. As I said before, action speaks louder than words, so I'll shut up and you can click here to read the story.

Happy Earth Day!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Survey Says....Recycled Paper!

Business take notice: A survey released this week by Cone, Inc. reveals that Americans report increased environmental consciousness and an expectation that companies will take action.

The 2007 Cone Consumer Environmental Survey released today finds one-third of Americans (32%) report heightened interest in the environment compared to a year ago. In addition, they are overwhelmingly looking to companies to act: 93% of Americans believe companies have a responsibility to help preserve the environment.

What does this mean specifically for paper companies and high profile paper users? Some of the surveys other findings are directly relevant. Among specific company actions identified was designing products/packaging with more environmentally-friendly contents and minimal packaging - expected by 69% of the public, second only to reducing pollution.

Among those Americans who report buying environmentally-friendly products, at the top of the list of what they buy are products with recycled content - at 62%.

The bottom line? The vast majority of Americans (91%) say they have a more positive image of a company when it is environmentally responsible. On the flip side, almost as many (85%) indicated they would consider switching to another company's products or services because of a company's negative corporate responsibility practices.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Spring Crop of "Green" Glossy Mags

Its been amazing to witness the flood of media on environmental issues pouring through the airwaves, print media and cyberspace in the last year or so. For those pioneers that marched on the first Earth Day, it must feel satisfying, and long overdue.

As vigilant advocates for sustainability and savvy consumers, how do we sift through all the eco-pop culture for the real stuff. And how can we know if those who are selling us this news and information are doing the right thing themselves.

Take magazines for example. You may have witnessed the abundance of "Green" issues of your favorite magazines available on the shelves at the check-out line this month, such as Vanity Fair's 2nd annual. Personally, I think this represents a good step forward.

But one can't help but ask, "isn't all that paper contributing to climate change and loss of our forests?" Well, actually, yes, it is.

"Surely, they are printed on recycled paper though, right?" Well, actually, probably not. According to Co-op America's Magazine PAPER Project, out of 18,000 mags in circulation, only about 100 use any amount of recycled fiber. Wow.

In the midst of this media flood of eco-information, outlets that want to set themselves apart in the market as authoritative voices would be well served to themselves embrace the readily available environmental alternatives that they encourage their readers to take on, in particular, printing on post-consumer recycled paper. The benefits would be tremendous. They can find out how its "Different, Not Difficult," by reading a smart little publication found here.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Bite of Wisdom on Eco-Friendly Office Paper

The ever witty, wise and easily digestable Ideal Bite is running an "Eco-Friendly Office Week." Today's "Daily Bite" is called "Looking Good on Paper."

Some suggestions were lovingly added to the blog comments on behalf of the Paper Planet that you might want to check out as well.

Specifically, we would really love to see, recommended in the tip, do a little better job offering its customers recycled paper. Their green built offices and other actions demonstrate their awareness of the environmental imperative, which should lead to changes in their business practicies regarding paper. Currently, the word recycled can not be found on their website, and recycled paper is not listed as one of their paper offerings. They have assurred me that a customer can abort the online ordering process and call and special request recycled paper, which is nice. But common sense dictates this is less than "ideal."

Friday, April 13, 2007

Martha Stewart Knows: Junk Mail's A No-No

Reducing junk mail isn't just good for the earth, now it's stylish, too! This Monday, the Center for a New American Dream's Do Not Junk campaign will be featured on the Martha Stewart Show, including an overview of resources to help individuals remove themselves from unwanted direct mail lists. You can find out what time the show airs in your town here.

Its Friday the 13th, Let's Debunk Recycled Paper Myths

This quick news clip featuring Conservatree's Susan Kinsella, a founder of the Environmental Paper Network, dispels some of the pervasive myths around recycled paper. Share it with 10 people you know who buy paper, before the day is over, and you will receive good luck on this Friday the 13th!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dell Does Paper Use Efficiency

Dell announced today it will reduce paper usage by offering shareholders a new way to enroll in electronic delivery of the company's annual 10-K report, proxy statement and other financial materials. The company also announced plans to avoid the use of nearly 255,000 pounds of paper by replacing the printed Year in Review with an interactive online resource center.

Dell shareholders can enroll in free electronic delivery of financial materials by visiting the Investor Relations section of the company's Web site. Under the expanded program, shareholders will have access to Web-based reports, executive messages and can receive timely information on Dell's global business. The company estimates total potential savings of 678,000 pounds of paper, or the equivalent of more than 7,000 trees if 100 percent of its shareholders participate.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

China Drives the Illegal Logging Train

Check out this article from today's Washington Post that exposes China's rampant expansion into the world of illegal logging. This damaging expose will certainly send chills up and down your spine.

In 1998, when devestating floods killed 3,600 people in China's Yangtze River Valley, the government launched a massive reforestation program to help turn the tide for the nation's environment. Unfortunately, as logging production decreased in China, Western appetite for cheap wood products did not, leading to China's increased importing of wood from some of the world's hotspots of illegal logging, including Indonesia, Burma and more. And unfortunately, some of the West's greenest companies are scooping it up, with little or no knowledge of its origins.

Read the full story here.