Product: Green Papers
- Green Products: What Should I Get?
- Criteria: How Do I Know It's Green?
- Costs: Can I Afford It?
- Beyond Buying: Other Environmentally Friendly Options
Green Products: What Should I Get?
The Green Paper Products Directories provide information about greener
paper products for
(1) Office and School Papers, like recycled copy paper, notebooks, and filler paper, and (2) Tissue Papers, like recycled toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins.
To find these green products go to:
> Download Green Paper Products: Tissue Papers
Criteria: How Do I Know It's Green?
The three key factors that consumers should look for in selecting paper are highest recycled content of post consumer waste (PCW), certification by the Forest Stewardship Council for the non-PCW content, and non-chlorine based bleaching.
Post Consumer Waste (PCW) is waste paper from homes, schools or offices that has served its intended purpose and has been separated from solid waste to be recycled into new paper. We assume that the recycled paper we purchase is made from these waste papers but this is not always true. Most paper products labeled “recycled” contain little post-consumer material and much of our waste paper still ends up in landfills. Most recycled tissue products do have some recycled content, with PCW ranging from 20% - 100%. At a minimum 30% PCW should be purchased and high-performing paper with 50%, 80%, and even 100% PCW is available. Buy 100% PCF for the best environmental choice!
Forest Stewardship Council Certification: The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifies that forest products have been harvested in a responsible manner. When your paper does have virgin (non-recycled) fiber, look for FSC on the packaging for the best environmental choice!
Bleaching: Most papers require bleaching. Non-chlorine bleaches are the best for the environment and they are available for both recycled and virgin paper. Look for the PCF (processed chlorine-free) label when purchasing recycled content paper and look for the TCF (totally chlorine-free) label when purchasing virgin fiber content paper. PCF is the best environmental choice!
Costs: Can I Afford It?
Do not be discouraged if the first paper you find is more expensive; even a little searching can locate price-competitive options. In fact, in a fluctuating market and negotiating bulk contracts, sometimes post-consumer recycled paper is cost-neutral or even less expensive. Prices for 100% post-consumer recycled paper are more price-competitive today than at their introduction in the late 1990s, ranging from around 10%-20% higher than virgin papers. As demand grows, prices are expected to fall in line with those of other copy papers. (greenguardian.org). With bulk purchasing or procurement contracts you can often save even more. In California, all state government agencies are now required to purchase recycled products whenever they are available at the same or a lesser total cost than non-recycled ones and the California state procurement contracts offer large discounts on recycled content paper (See Green Buying Tools for information on how to use the state contracts).
Los Angeles County recently established a Cooperative Purchasing Program, enabling governmental entities (including school districts) to join the County (free of charge) in purchasing recycled paper and benefiting financially from the advantage of collective purchasing power. The County selected a contractor to supply 30 percent recycled-content paper at below wholesale cost to all participating governmental entities (with no minimum purchase requirement and with the added convenience of next day delivery). By joining the program, participating cities (and school districts) are saving a tremendous amount of money. Based on projected annual consumption, the City and County of Los Angeles alone will be saving $84,000 and $40,000 per year, respectively, compared with their previous contracts
Beyond Buying: Other Environmentally Friendly Options
Reduce paper use and paper waste - Set default margins to 0.75” instead of 1.25” and you can save about 4.75% of the paper you buy. Set your copy machines and printers to default double-sided. Make scratch paper from used paper in your classroom. Make “check before you print” reminders on all computer screens so people check for typos and settings before printing drafts with mistakes. Include “think before you print” in your email messages.
Learn how to make recycled paper with your old paper with ERC's activity handout. Check out our Curriculum Page for information about forest protection activities, paper audits, and more hands-on activities.
Electronic Communications – Some schools are going nearly paperless by using more electronic communications for newsletters, forms, announcements, parent communications, homework’s, calendars, school board meetings, and more! An informative article at Education Week here, including businesses that specialize in helping schools go paperless like Blackboard, BoardDocs by Emerald Data Solutions, and eBOARDsolutions.
Web-based forms- Infosnap helps move student's annual registration online, providing a secure host for new/returning student registration, health information, emergency contacts. etc and saving schools time, money and trees. Check out www.infosnap.com or contact Karin Holtz 301-986-1600 x 213, Karin@infosnap.com for more information.
Why Buy Green? - Green Papers
This section provides information about paper use in schools and is relevant to office paper, copy paper, notebooks, and tissue paper for operations and maintenance, like toilet paper, paper towels and napkins. Schools are big consumers of paper, and by purchasing paper with recycled content and chlorine-free they can also help protect forest resources, save energy, and reduce pollution.
Paper-making is a large and resource-intensive industry. According to Environmental Defense Fund’s Paper Calculator, producing 1 ton of paper uses approximately 24 trees (3 tons of wood) and 38 million BTUs of energy (about 40% of one home per year), and produces about 5,700 pounds of greenhouse gases (about half of one car per year), 19,000 gallons of wastewater, and 2,300 pounds of solid waste. Tissue paper – such as toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins – is also often made from virgin wood pulp. Americans now use about 31.5 million tons of printing and writing paper each year (660 pounds per person!), requiring 535 million trees and 12 billion gallons of oil to manufacture. We are at risk of losing the world’s biologically rich forests for paper production, contributing to deforestation in Indonesia, Canada, and the U.S. In the last year alone, logging in the Southeastern U.S. resulted in a loss of land about the size of New Jersey (5 million acres), and about 46% of the region’s forests have been lost since the 1950s.
According to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, which analyzes schools' waste on a district by district basis, Alameda County schools alone dispose of more than 11,700 tons of paper waste every year. San Diego runs through more than 24,000 tons, and Los Angeles schools go through a whopping 75,600 tons of paper annually.
In the landfill, where 80% of discarded paper ends up, the decomposition of paper produces methane, a powerful global warming. The EPA cites landfills as the single largest source of methane emissions to the atmosphere, with paper representing about 38% of the municipal solid waste stream. Within schools the percentage of paper in the waste stream is even higher, almost 50%! Yet, another environmental concern is the chlorine-based bleach that is used to brighten paper, leading to harmful water pollution near production facilities.
Schools are big consumers of paper, but the majority of schools do not purchase recycled or chlorine-free papers. By choosing papers made from recycled fibers and high recycled content, schools can help slow deforestation and the replacement of species-rich forests with plantations while also helping to save water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For each ton of non-recycled office paper that your school district replaces with 35 percent post-consumer content, you can save about 8 trees (about 2,400 pounds less wood) and about 15% of energy used, and avoid 738 pounds of greenhouse gases, 3,000 gallons of wastewater, and 400 pounds of solid waste.
You can estimate the environmental impacts of your own paper purchases here: http://www.edf.org/papercalculator/
Where Can I Get More Information
Conservatree - One-stop source for environmental paper information: product listings, best practices, institutional purchaser section, tips for reducing waste, and more.
Green Seal - Standards and listings of certified paper products for GS-1 (Tissue paper), GS-7 (Printing and Writing Paper), GC-8 (Paper Used in Food Prep), GS-9 (Paper Towels and Napkins), GS-10 (Coated Printing Paper), and GS-15 (Newsprint).
Green Buying Tools
"Environmentally Preferable Purchasing" or "Green Purchasing" means integrating environmental and health factors into all procurement policies and decisions. Green purchasing can also save money, protect students and staff, and reduce liability—something schools everywhere should care about.
The following tools will help you get started: