Print. (Did you think it was going to be the Incredible Hulk?) The facts about paper production and sustainability are quite different than the perceptions most people have.
Most people have been taught that “going paperless” is a great way to positively impact the environment. If we aren’t cutting down trees to produce paper, we are environmentally responsible, right? Research and current data say otherwise.
- An average person wastes 2.4 times more electricity powering a single computer than on the energy used to produce the paper they use in a year.
- CO2 emissions from making a CD are four times higher than from printing a 100-page 4-color annual report.
- In 2008. American generated 3.16 million TONS of electronic waste. That is a staggering number.
- Electronic devices typically require mining and refining dozens of minerals and metals, as well as the use of plastics, hydrocarbon solvents, and other non-renewable resources.
But what about all of those trees? Are we compromising our forests by using more paper?
Only 11% of the cut forest trees are used by the paper industry. What’s more, the paper industry plants three times MORE trees than it cuts. Not only is the paper industry replenishing the resources it uses, it’s tripling them. By providing a market for responsibly grown wood fiber, the U.S. paper industry encourages forest land owners to continue managing their lands instead of developing them for non-forest use.
Forestry is the most sustainable of all new energy and materials industries. Dr. Patrick Moore, Co-founder of Greenpeace says, “We should be growing more trees and using more wood, not cutting fewer trees and using less wood… Wood is the most important renewable material and energy resource.”
We have been trained to think that paperless is a better option for distributing information these days. While digital communication is great for many applications, it doesn’t come without its own environmental impact. Sustainability is the future of the $640 billion print industry.
Clearly there is no “either/or” making a decision about which communications are better delivered electronically or on paper. Being “Big, Green and Sustainable” often times means printing your communications.