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Top 5 Tips for Choosing an Environmentally Responsible Office Paper

We all want a dependable office paper, a healthy planet and thriving local economies. The good news is, it’s possible to have an office paper that meets your needs while also being environmentally responsible, supporting local economies and respecting indigenous cultures. Use these 5 tips to make a responsible paper choice.

Get the Facts on How Paper is Sustainably Made

Historically, the pulp and paper industry has taken the majority of the blame for global deforestation. While most still believe that using paper directly contributes to deforestation, development is the actual culprit. According to the U.S. Forest Service, about 6,000 acres of open space are lost to development each day – that’s a rate of 4 acres per minute!  Furthermore, the agency estimates that 44 million acres of private forest lands could experience sizeable increases in housing density by 2030.

The truth is, much of the fiber North American paper companies use to create paper comes from small landowners that face the same struggles many of us face every day – such as saving for retirement and putting their kids through college. By selling fiber to pulp and paper companies, these landowners can keep their forests as forests and still support their families. Hear the account of Donna Janssen, a North American landowner Domtar works within our Paper Matters Podcast Episode 5 – How a Forest is Sustainably Managed.

Look Beyond Recycled Paper

Because recycling used paper is the right thing to do, you would assume buying 100% recycled paper is an environmental must. But the truth is without certified virgin fiber, we would run out of paper within two months. That’s because paper can only be recycled five to seven times.

Both recycled and certified virgin papers have a place in the sustainable office. Be sure to investigate all angles – recycled content, North American made, the company’s sustainability focus, and the supporting certifications – to make an educated decision about which paper will lead to a smaller environmental footprint.

Buy North American Made Paper

Do you know where your paper comes from? If you’re concerned about your environmental footprint, this is something you should confirm. There are a variety of environmental reasons to choose North American paper because North American paper manufacturers are heavily regulated, continuously improving and reporting environmental performance due to evolving environmental standards. There are also social benefits as well. North American paper manufacturers are often also committed to respecting the rights of aboriginal groups by making it a priority to develop and maintain working relationships in forest management and wood-fiber processing where they share common public lands.

Last but not least, the economic benefit to buying North American should also be considered. When you buy paper produced at a North American paper mill, your supporting communities where the paper mill is often the main source of income. Therefore, it stands to reason that these communities would be especially dedicated to preserving the health of the land where they reside.

Do Your Research on Sustainable Paper Options

How can you tell if the sustainability claims of a product are authentic or just another marketing ploy? One simple way is to do a bit of research about the company. If you’re researching paper mills, the sustainability claims should go far beyond the product offering the sustainability policies and goals should be easy to find and clearly communicated in a transparent fashion. More than likely, a Sustainability Report will also be available for your review. Most sustainability reports will share statistics and stories about progress achieved at efforts to use water more efficiently, reduce emissions, invest in employees and communities, and make boardrooms more diverse. The better reports will go a step further and share the challenges faced in making further progress.

Check Third-Party Sustainability Certifications

Third-party certifications serve as a voluntary seal of approval that signifies that the product meets environmental standards that have been set forth by an organization other than the company that manufactures the product. Third-party certifications are important because they provide customers an additional level of assurance that the product is made sustainably and responsibly.

It’s critical to note that all certifications are not created equal in fact, certifications can be developed by anyone. That’s why when researching a sustainable paper choice, it’s important to get well-acquainted with the most well-respected certifications and understand the standards.

The most well-known sustainability certifications in the paper industry are FSC and SFI. All of Domtar’s pulp and paper facilities are certified to the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®). In addition, Domtar’s owned and managed lands in Canada are certified to the FSC and SFI standards. Where available, Domtar has a preference for FSC Certification. In addition to FSC, Domtar recognizes and utilizes fiber certified to SFI, PEFC, and ATFS standards.

On the hunt for a reliable office paper that’s dependable while also being sustainably responsible? The options in the EarthChoice® Office Paper line were created to offer a variety of options for consumers that consider sustainability a top priority. Looking to start at square one? Read How to Choose the Right Office Paper for Your Project, Priority and Budget.

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