Every day, natural forests that are full of a rich variety of animal and plant species are either completely decimated or converted to monoculture tree plantations. This ecosystem destruction is the price we pay for all of the wood and virgin paper products we use in the United States, including magazine paper. One ton of magazine paper made from virgin (non-recycled) fiber requires up to 18 trees to be cut down, releasing sequestered carbon into our atmosphere. After it is used once, paper is often sent to a landfill. Paper products account for over one quarter of all solid waste in landfills, and release toxic methane during decomposition. However, recovered paper can be used up to seven times. If we simply use recycled paper effectively, we can relieve a significant amount of the pressure on forests to supply virgin wood. In fact, research shows that recycled fiber paper outperforms virgin fiber paper in 14 out of 14 environmental categories. And, the good news is that high-quality, cost-competitive recycled papers exist in a wide range of grades and weights, so increasing recycled content fiber in publications has never been easier.
According to the US Census, there are almost 67 million people with higher education degrees across the country, with over three million new graduates joining alumni associations every year. Alumni receive on average four magazines throughout the year from their alma mater, which can add up to significant environmental impacts. However, if all colleges used 100% recycled paper for their alumni publications, this could result in large and measurable environmental benefits.
In order to have a wider availability for high recycled content paper, we need to demand it - and universities have significant purhasing power to influence the paper industry. Thousands of Green America members from across the country are asking us to connect with their alma mater about its paper usage, making alumni a driving force behind this campaign.
Green America's Better Paper Project has helped hundreds of publications move to recycled and certified paper options over the past decade. We can help universities across the country find high-quality recycled fiber papers that protect the planet and show a commitment to the environmental stewardship. For this reason, we launched the Better Paper Commitment, to help universities take the first steps towards reducing their environmental impact through better paper procurement beginning with alumni magazines. The action steps of taking the Better Paper Commitment are:
- Commit to begin using a minimum of 30% recycled content paper in alumni magazines, with a plan to increase. Form a timeline for all paper transitions and meet those deadlines.
- For any virgin paper included, only use paper fiber from sustainably managed Forest Stewardship Council certified forests.
- Look for ways to make continual improvement of paper use practices, including paper reduction.
We’re starting with 10 universities where students and alumni are working with us to create change. If you are affiliated with any of these schools, click the university name in the map below and use the various contact forms to send a message to the editor asking them to make the Better Paper Commitment!
The above universities have either confirmed that they do not use high-content recycled paper or have not responded to previous communications.
Click on the image below to read FAQs about One Million Trees. To learn more about our Better Paper Commitment and become a leader in higher education and the publishing industry, please contact us here.