Neutral vs. Negative

What’s the difference between being Paper-Neutral and Paper-Negative?


Being Paper-Neutral means that the negative environmental impact of your use of paper is completely offset by the positive environmental impacts of your paper-related actions.  It’s kind of like digging a hole (or leaving a footprint) and then filling it back in so you don’t leave a trace.  Your total paper actions essentially balance out to nothing.

Being Paper-Negative means pretty much the same as being Paper-Neutral, only you go above and beyond.  Not only do you fill up your paper footprints so you leave no trace of  negative impact, but you then go out of your way to leave where you stepped even more natural than when you made your step.  It’s kind of like taking a step, making a footprint (i.e., negatively impacting the environment), filling up your footprint to make it exactly how it was before, but then planting a tree or picking up garbage right nearby that someone else, not you, left behind.

Despite using post-consumer recycled paper (plus recycling, reducing, and re-using paper whenever possible), you and your organization’s use of paper will still impact the environment.  Unless you go 100% paper free (which is close to impossible), your use of paper will still result in toxins being produced through the manufacturing process and transportation of the product, and the release of greenhouse gasses like CO2 into the environment.   Unless you go 100% recycled 100% of the time, your use of paper may still result in a tree (or at least a few of its branches) being cut down.  However, if you plant a tree for every tree you cause to be cut down, and if you offset all the pollution your paper produces (like if you buy carbon offsets, pay for a charity to replace their diesel generator with solar energy, or do some other action that improves the environment by the exact same amount your paper use harms the environment), then you, technically, can be paper-neutral (or even paper-negative) if your actions reduce the negative paper impact of other people.

And what’s the simplest and most effective way of becoming Paper-Neutral or Paper-Negative?  Join the Paper-Newt program and make a difference!