Proclaiming yourself green is all the rage. Consumers throughout the world are becoming conscious of the consequences of each choice, and many are striving to make choices that reduce environmental impact.
Of course the easy thing for companies and industries to do is to mount a marketing campaign that makes them look green. It is, after all easier to to this than it is to actually change your practices so you are green,
Recently, we came across this kind of greenwashing at There are Two Sides to Paper
This site is put together by the National Association of Paper Merchants, a UK trade group, although it seems as though they are trying to hide that fact. They only list NAPM as the source, and it took a little sluething on my part to find out who the NAPM is.
Now, there is nothing wrong with a trade group promoting the agenda of their members, or trying their best to put a positive spin on their industry, but the fact that they are hiding who they sets off my BS detector.
The goal of the TwoSides campaign is
to address these criticisms, to educate the paper-buying public of the true facts so they can make informed choices, while at the same time, promote responsible paper use.
Promoting responsible paper use is good, but some of the “true facts” they want to use to “educate” the public are iffy at best. Two sides lists 6 myths, and then presents counter arguments.
For example, Myth 5 is “Recycled Paper is always better for the environment than virgin paper” They counter
Modern paper mills producing virgin fibre paper, whose energy source is nuclear, hydro or internally bio-fuelled, may well have a lower carbon footprint than a mill making recycled paper, powered by fossil fuels.
Talk about a misleading argument. How about a virgin paper mill using fossil fuels vs a recycling mill? How can you compare the two? Besides, if you see two reams of paper, one is virgin and the other high post consumer recycled, are you supposed to try to find out what kind of fuel powered the manufacturing plant? How can you do that?
In addition, their analysis just barely mentions that when paper is not recycled, it can end up in landfills.
Plus they point out that without virgin paper at some point, you couldn’t have recycled paper. Fine, make that argument when we are recycling as close to 100 percent of our paper as possible
Another example Myth 1 “Making Paper Destroys forests”
They counter, no, in fact the opposite is true. But their facts are sketchy. For example, they cite the Forest Stewardship Council (I guess, they just say FSC – could be the Flying Sausage Council
‘Almost half of the timber harvested from the world’s forests is used to make paper products, so the paper industry has a huge opportunity to make sure that those forests are responsibly managed and will be here for generations to come’
OK, they have the opportunity, are they doing it?
In managed forests, for every tree cut down, three to four are replanted in its place.
Great, except for two things – 1) even three or four young trees don’t really compensate for the one mature tree cut down, and won’t for many years. and 2) they make no mention of the percentage of paper that comes from managed forests.
Managed forests are better than clear cut. For new paper, absolutely we want to see responsibly managed forests and replantingm but over all, we go with the basic common sense approach
Reduce – cut your use of paper down as much as possible
Reuse, – a little more difficult, but try to use both sides of each sheet
Recycle – and when you can, use recycled paper