FIVE STEPS YOU CAN TAKE
TOWARD GREENER PAPER
1. USE LESS PAPER
Using less paper is the easiest and most important step you can take to protect the environment, and it will usually save you money. Using less paper also means you'll have less to buy, store, file, or recycle after you've used it. Eliminating unnecessary uses of paper, and getting more use out of the paper you do use, avoids environmental impacts every step of the way -- from the forest to the paper mill to the landfill.
Use routing slips to share publications and documents rather than copying them. Copy and print on both sides of the page ("duplex").
Lease or buy office equipment that has the best duplexing capability. Set the default on your copier and computer printer to duplex mode. In an office, put a reminder sign by the copier.
Make the most of computers and other electronic communication.
Use electronic mail and don't print your e-mail messages unless necessary. Install software for paperless faxing via your modem. Use your word processor's Spell Check and Print Preview functions (if available) to check spelling, layout, and page breaks before printing a job. Submit office forms such as purchase orders and time sheets electronically.
Collect and reuse paper that's blank on one side. Use it for drafts, internal memos, messages, and scrap paper.
2. RECYCLE MORE
America now recycles more that 25% of solid waste from homes and businesses, but this number needs to go much higher. Recycle more kinds of material. An office that recycles white paper can also recycle newspapers, magazines, and corrugated boxes. A store that recycles boxes can recycle paper, too. (And don't forget to recycle bottles and cans, wood pallets, and other materials.)
Buy paper that you can recycle. Avoid deeply colored papers, such as neon colors, which use dyes that are hard to remove. (Pastel colors are not a problem.)
Work with others. Join with other businesses in your mall, office building, or commercial park to create a "Business Recycling District" so that recycling collectors can give you better service at lower cost.
3. BUY RECYCLED
When you buy recycled, you help build demand for the paper collected in home and office recycling programs.
Buy paper with the highest percentage of "post-consumer" recycled content you can find that also meets your price and performance needs.
"Post-consumer" refers to materials that consumers and businesses have used and thrown away (unlike manufacturing scrap that is routinely recycled).
Include all the kinds of paper you purchase. Look for post-consumer recycled content in corrugated boxes, file folders, envelopes, tissue, and toweling.
Shop around. Thousands of brands of competitively priced recycled paper perform just as well as paper made directly from trees -- and more brands become available each month.
4. SUPPORT CLEANER PAPERMAKING
Making paper -- especially bleached white paper -- requires large amounts of water, chemicals, and energy and produces air and water pollution. But there are ways to lessen these impacts. Paper made with cleaner manufacturing processes will meet your needs, shouldn't cost more, and is available today!
Choose unbleached paper whenever possible.
Buy supplies such as file folders, large envelopes, and carry-out bags made from unbleached paper. Buy products minimally packaged in brown, tan, or gray paperboard rather than bleached white paperboard. If you don't like the packaging of products you buy, call the manufacturer and ask them to change it.
When buying white paper, follow this order of preference:
Whenever possible, buy paper made using a totally chlorine free (TCF) process. Look for TCF papers made from recycled pulp or "kraft" TCF pulp. If TCF paper made from these pulps is not yet available, ask your supplier when it will be. In the meantime, buy paper that contains kraft pulp made without using any chlorine gas, but with "extended delignification," "oxygen delignification," or "ozone bleaching." These processes are elemental chlorine free, or ECF, but compared with other ECF processes, they require much less use of chlorine compounds.
At first, some of these terms will be new even to some of your paper suppliers. But if enough customers ask for them, suppliers will seek out paper made using such beneficial technologies.
5. THINK FORESTS
Not all paper can be 100% recycled, so no matter how good you are at "buying recycled," some paper you purchase will probably contain virgin fiber (fiber from trees). Growing and cutting down trees can harm forest ecosystems and wildlife, but do less harm if the best forest management practices are used.
Educate yourself. Take time to learn more about forest issues. Get a copy of the Paper Task Force Report.
Ask your paper suppliers about the forest management practices used to produce the paper they offer. Tell them your buying decisions will take into account the practices used on their own lands and on lands from which they buy additional wood. Ask them the "Smart Questions for Purchasers" listed in the Paper Task Force Report.
Get it in writing. Many paper companies issue a report specifically on their forestry practices each year. Request a copy.
Get a second opinion. Ask an environmental expert not connected with the paper industry to help evaluate the information you receive from paper suppliers.
Simply by asking about forestry you can send paper manufacturers a signal that you expect them to use environmentally preferable forest management practices. Then buy from the companies with the best practices.
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