Paper is a sustainable, green, renewable resource – but the paper and printing industry still have to work hard to increase the realization of this in consumers’ minds. Somehow, a lingering, hazy misconception persists that “PRINT/PAPER BAD, DIGITAL GOOD” when it comes to the environment – simply not true. Perhaps a lot of this false information was perpetuated by the “help the environnment, don’t print out this email” tagline so many folks attach to their digital messages. (This myth is also debunked here.) Its is eye-opening to consider just a couple of facts about the environmental integrity of the print industry. Think about this:
The U.S. forest products industry plants more than 4 million trees… EVERY DAY!
Every day. That adds up to 1.5 billion a year. The result: the US has roughly the same number of forest acreage as we had 100 years ago, before industrialization began! Forest growth exceeds tree removal by 36% each year. (source)
Now on the other side of this equation lies the common misconception that desktop and mobile information consumption is greener than print – consider these startling facts:
A person who reads a printed newspaper daily for a year uses 20% less CO2 than one reading news online for 30 minutes each day. (source)
By 2020, data servers in the U.S. will be the single largest users of electricity. (source)
No one’s trying to tilt at windmills and say paper should always be used over digital communications. But it is very important to have an accurate understanding of the environmental impacts of our energy and information consumption habits throughout the communicaitons “mix.” Paper is biodegradable, sustainable and produced by an industry hard at work to maintain a healthy environment and the healthy forests that are essential to the industry’s survival.
Rely on your printer for advice and direction with your concerns about sustainability and you or your business’ commitment to being a good environmental steward. They should be able to offer you information and options for paper, ink and FSC certified products that will help you print and market in a sustainable manner. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer. The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!