Saturday, September 25, 2010

Paper Because.....

Following on the heels of a post this past week on the Paper Planet discussing Domtar's decision to join the Two Sides campaign, a new website targeting the North American market was launched, called "Paper Because."

In what appears to be a much more reasonable, and thoughtful approach, Domtar is promoting the special attributes of paper, as well as suggesting there are efforts paper producers can and must take to become ever more sustainable.  The first impression is that it is more reflective of their efforts to work with conservation groups such as WWF, Rainforest Alliance and the Carbon Canopy project, and their growing use of FSC fiber.

There are some good points, including on social benefits of paper:
Jakob Nielsen, a web usability expert noted that: “The online medium lends itself to a more superficial processing of information, you’re just surfing the information; it’s not deep learning.”1 
On environmental improvement, and superior credibility of FSC certification:
Whenever possible, Domtar favors certification to FSC, due to its inclusive mandate, which involves striking a balance amongst environmental, social and commercial interests in a forest.
However, there's also a bit of misleading environmental information, an attack on recycled paper, and some dodging of the reality of the carbon footprint of making paper, especially in the "Quiz," including,

When it asks if paper is a major contributor to landfills, the website claims the correct answer is, "False," and yet that's simply not true.  The US EPA and the facts disagree.  Yes, we recover and recycle a lot, and at a higher percentage than other materials, which is great.  However, paper is still the single largest component of the wastestream and even after recycling, its the largest contributor to our landfills, constituting about 25% of the waste goes into landfills, more than any other single product. (Municipal solid waste in the United States: 2005 facts and figures.

It just shows how massive the volume of paper we use is, and that to reach sustainability we are going to have to be a combination of (1) more responsible in making it and managing where it comes from (2) more efficient in using it and (3) find continued success in growing our recovery rate for paper.

In the quiz you will also find many of the same old forestry facts that sound good but don't really mean much, such as, "There are nearly 750 million acres of forests in the U.S. — about the same as 100 years ago. "

And many attempts are made in the quiz to claim that burning wood and other tree-byproducts are "carbon-neutral", a dangerous assumption that science has proven to be false, but federal and international policy is still working to catch up with.  We can't have a reasonable discourse on how to properly account for the carbon emissions released to the atmosphere in this process, when critical stakeholders flat-out deny any responsibility whatsoever.

We all buy paper, and when we do, I hope we buy "paper because" it is the best performing or only viable medium for the application required, and because it was made by a leadership company using the most environmentally responsible production possible.  (Learn more about environmentally superior papers at

Visit the site, Paper Because, to see what its all about yourself.  Tell us what you think.  Share your favorite clip from the site based on either its truth about the benefits of paper or its dubious environmental claims.

1 comment:

Lee De Cola said...

i'm an educator who tries to get my students to engage in paper/pencil exericses to improve their visual imagination, and would like to see people inspired by the examples i've compiled of sketches made by great scientists. but i don't want to support an environmentally regressive campaign, so what do you recommend?

Lee De Cola