Pick Your Paper Wisely

If your office is like most, you probably use a lot of paper – and paper is not cheap. But equally important, our use of paper directly affects our health, our forests, and global warming.

Why do our choices matter?

  • The U.S., with 5% of the world’s population, consumes 30% of the world’s paper.
  • Producing a ton of virgin paper requires 17 trees and 7000 more gallons of water than a ton of 100% recycled paper.
  • Chlorine is often used in the bleaching process, releasing the carcinogenic chemical dioxin and other toxins
  • Producing recycled paper reduces air pollution by 74%, water pollution by 35%, and energy consumption by 60-70%
  • Follow the links in the left hand feature box for more information.

Some solutions

  • Purchasing choices
  • Conserving
  • Advocating
  • Follow the links in the left hand feature box for more information.

Purchase post-consumer recycled, chlorine-free paper

  • Buy “processed chlorine free” (PCF) or “totally chlorine free” (TCF) paper with high post-consumer recycled content. IMPORTANT: Note that “elementally chlorine-free” paper is not the same as PCF or TCF; this process still produces dioxins.
  • Spread the word by putting a note at the bottom of the paper indicating that you’re using process chlorine-free, post-consumer recycled paper. Let people know that churches are good stewards of God’s creation. It might give them the idea to take this important action, too!

Use less paper

Conserve paper and you conserve trees, energy, and water! And since buying chlorine-free, post-consumer recycled paper can sometimes be more expensive, you can reduce the total office paper expenses just by using less.

Here are some ideas for reducing your use of paper:

  • Use a software program such as FinePrint which allows you to easily print two (or more) pages on a side, print on both sides, delete unwanted pages before printing, print in booklet form as well as many other printing tricks. You can save a lot of paper, ink, and money by investing in this type of software, and it’s very affordable.
  • Try decreasing the size of margins, using single space or 1 1/2 space instead of double spacing, or using a slightly smaller font. With a little care, you might get the whole document on one page instead of two.
  • Use both sides of the paper.
  • If the document fits on one side of a page, try formatting it as two columns and then print the same document on the other side. Cut it in half so that half of the text is on the front of the half-sheet and the rest is on the back. You have just reduced your paper use by half!
  • Format text in columns. It often takes less space and can be easier to read.
  • Save leftover copies that are blank on one side and reuse them. If it’s not crumpled, many printers work just fine using this “pre-used” paper.
  • The easiest way to save paper is not to use it at all. Does everything really need to be printed out? Perhaps an announcement at the beginning of the service or a poster displayed at the door will spread the word as well as or better than that extra sheet of paper stuffed in the bulletin. Maybe people at committee meetings really don’t all need (or want!) every piece of information printed out. Do you print out your email before even considering whether it’s something you need? Think before you print!

Paper and global warming: The faith community is taking action

According to the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change (October 2006), 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions are the result of deforestation. If the book publishing industry increased its average use of recycled fiber from 5% now to 30%, it would conserve 524 million pounds of greenhouse gases-equivalent to keeping 45,818 cars off the road each year. And religious publishing remains one of the fastest growing segments of book publishing.

Faith community leaders are participating in a Green Press Initiative to encourage the religious press publishing industry to use recycled paper. Visit the Green Press Initiative for more information.

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