Recycling, Reducing, Re-using (and being Responsible)
Recycling, Reducing and Re-using are the 3 primary ways people can limit their paper impact on the environment. We like 3+ R’s though, as we think there’s a fourth: being Responsible.
Recycling involves two things: (1) using recycled paper instead of regular virgin paper with no post-consumer waste content (and the higher the percent of recycled content the better), and (2) recycling all paper used so that it’s turned back into paper for future use instead of ending up in the dump (where it releases greenhouse gasses while it decomposes).
Reducing means using less. If you don’t need to print something, then don’t. Or if you can print double-sided, which means using only half as much paper as printing single-sided, then print double-sided! We as a society use way too much paper – we can use a lot less without really being affected. Remember the old saying from elementary school – “waste not want not”? You can save money and the environment by reducing your use of paper.
Re-using means, well, just that – re-using paper. Got a no-longer-needed piece of (non-confidential) paper that’s printed on only one side? Then instead of throwing it in the recycling bin, why not use it for scrap paper? Are you planning to move? Then don’t buy cardboard moving boxes – get old ones for free from your local liquor store (and then let your kids build something out of them)!
Being Responsible involves all of the above, as well as being responsible in other ways. This includes using environmentally friendly paper that isn’t full of harmful bleach, or using FSC-certified products, vegetable-based printing inks, and just being all-round environmentally responsible. We at Paper-Newt aren’t perfect, and we don’t expect everyone else to be either. We do believe though that businesses and organizations should take their environmental responsibilities seriously and not simply buy paper offsets without also practicing a bit of what they preach.
Paper-Newt and the 3+R’s:
Businesses that sign up for the Paper-Newt program not only commit to using 100% recycled paper themselves and helping non-profits do the same, but they also have to commit to practicing the 3+ R’s of responsible paper use: Recycling, Reducing, Re-using and being Responsible. Offsetting paper use is great, but reducing your impact (and so the amount you have to offset) is just as important, if not more so!