March 21st marks the 9th annual International Day of Forests - a day designated by the United Nations to celebrate and raise awareness for all types of forests. Forests are often on our minds because we spend so much time camping + running + exploring forested areas, but also because paper is one of our favorite mediums to share our designs! Navigating the world of sustainable paper production and the effects on forests can be a challenge with so many different certifications and designations out there. What does it all really mean?
The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) is a non-profit organization that sets standards for responsible forest management and is considered the gold standard in forest certifications. They offer a sustainable alternative to boycotting paper/wood products - basically accepting that tree-sourced products will always be part of our lives, but ensuring that they can be sourced in an environmentally-friendly and socially-responsible way.
Not only do forest managers go through the rigorous process of certification, but every part of the supply chain (sawmills/papermills etc) must also adhere to FSC standards in order to maintain the certification status.
Recycled Paper, PCW
The benefits of recycled paper are probably straightforward enough - by recycling we don’t need to cut down more trees, and we need drastically less resources (think water, energy) to produce recycled paper than virgin paper. There are actually 2 sources of recycled paper:
- 1) Offcuts from the manufacturing process at paper mills (so never actually used for anything outside of the manufacturing process)
- 2) Paper that has served some purpose and then reached the end of its useful life - what gets tossed into the recycling bin by consumers. This is what's referred to as PCW (postconsumer waste).
Recycled paper will often indicate a percentage of PCW. For example 30% PCW means that 30% of the recycled content is from postconsumer waste, and the other 70% is from offcuts of the manufacturing process. So if you think recycled = reused, in this case only 30% is really being reused.
It is worth noting that paper can’t be recycled indefinitely (~7 times is the limit), since the recycling process shortens the paper fibers until eventually it will need to be mixed with virgin paper to properly create new paper.
Green-e - Powered by Renewable Energy
Green-e is a clean energy designation for businesses that are powered through renewable energy (wind power, solar power, etc) and/or carbon offsets. It isn’t specific to the paper industry or trees, but it’s definitely complimentary to everything else we’ve been talking about!
This week as we celebrate our forests worldwide, we are also celebrating that all our paper products (posters, postcards, note cards and art prints) are printed on FSC certified, 100% PCW recycled paper and produced with 100% Green-e certified wind power!