Americans use approximately 31.5 million tons of printing and writing paper each year, an amount requiring over 535 million trees and more than 12 billion gallons of oil to produce.
Here are some tips to help you choose the most environmentally-friendly papers for your school and office needs:
- More paper products are now recovered than sent to landfills in the US, yet 65 percent of used printing and writing paper still ends up in the waste stream.
- The pulp and paper industry ranks first in use of industrial process water, third in toxic chemical releases, and fourth in emissions of the air pollutants known to impair respiratory health.
- Simple changes in our paper use and purchasing practices can help limit the depletion of forests and loss of habitat, reduce pollution and decrease the stress on our landfills. To this end, Green Seal recommends papers with at least 30 percent post-consumer recycled content and the use of chlorine-free production methods. Any pre-consumer or virgin fibers used in the recycled content paper must not be bleached with elemental chlorine.
- Several companies are using chlorine derivatives, such as chlorine dioxide, in place of elemental chlorine, which is acceptable given sufficient post-consumer recycled content.
- Green Seal also recommends some papers made with 100 percent virgin tree pulp, if processed completely without chlorine or its derivatives. Green Seal encourages both the increased use of post-consumer recycled fibers and the elimination of chlorine usage.
- Purchasing products that are chlorine-free and include post-consumer fibers will reduce the strain on natural resources, promote resource conservation and waste reduction, and minimize toxic emissions.
Green Seal reviewed the products of 20 manufacturers and evaluated them against the environmental criteria mentioned above.
To read Green Seal’s environmental rating of printing and writing papers—59 product recommendations—download Green Seal’s Choose Green Report!