Straight Talk: Green Stats

As another 4th of July passes and we celebrate our independence, we should also remember to celebrate the land that so many Americans fought so hard to keep. To put things in perspective are a few green stats below to remind us that even one step can make a difference! 

  •  The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50 million homes for 20 years.
  • 84% of a typical household’s waste–including food scraps, yard waste, paper, cardboard, cans, and bottles–can be recycled.
  • Using recycled paper for one print run of the Sunday edition of the New York Times would save 75,000 trees.
  • If every American recycled just one-tenth of their newspapers, we would save about 25 million trees a year.
  • From 1990 to 2005, the amount of MSW (municipal solid waste) going to U.S. landfills has decreased by 9 million tons and continues to decrease each year. However, U.S. goals should and do continue to address the fact that these figures can be improved. 
  • The average household throws away 13,000 separate pieces of paper each year. Most is packaging and junk mail.
  •  The construction costs of a paper mill designed to use waste paper is 50 to 80% less than the cost of a mill using new pulp.

 

 *Green Stats from http://www.grabstats.com and http://www.recycling-revolution.com/recycling-facts.html.

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Fiber: Recycled vs. Virgin

There is an ongoing debate about the usage of recycled fibers as opposed to virgin fibers. More than one-third of the fibers used by the paper industry come from recycled fiber. Compared to other industries, the amount of Post Consumer Waste used in the paper production process is significant.

The content of recycled material is even greater when you take into account pre-consumer waste (paper waste that never reached consumers) and the usage of mill broke. Broke is the waste generated in the process of making paper. It is re-introduced in the process of making pulp, decreasing the need for virgin fibers. Even though recycled paper requires water and energy, the level of pollution created in the process uses one-third less water and two-thirds less air when compared to virgin fiber (EPA).

Pre-Consumer Waste, recycled broke, and Post Consumer Waste (PCW) are all used in the process of making recycled paper.

The opposite line of thought is that using virgin fibers from responsibly managed forests promotes reforestation which is a critical factor in fighting greenhouse gas effects. Major forest certification programs like FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiatives) are leading forces behind responsible and environmentally managed forests.

So what does all of this mean? Using paper is good and using recycled (or paper from managed forests) is better. When printing anything, try to use paper that has some content of PCW (look for at least 10% and the higher the better!) or is FSC or SFI certified.

And whichever paper you choose to use, always remember to recycle it at the end of the lifecycle. Recycling paper uses less energy and produces much less waste than just tossing it in your trash can. In fact, each ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water.

This represents a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution1.

The impacts are clear and the first step begins with you!

 Sources:
1 http://www.pacebutler.com/blog/recycling-facts/

Changing the way the world thinks about print

Contrary to popular belief, printing is good for the environment! At Green Books N Binders, we specialize in on-demand short-run printing and we live by the philosophy, “Print what you need, when you need it.” We’re excited to see this concept moving mainstream with the newly launched website www.PrintGrowsTrees.com.

An entire website devoted to delivering the hard facts about paper and printing, PrintGrowsTrees.com was created by the Printing and Graphics Association Mid-Atlantic. Its purpose is simple – using facts to show that print on paper actually helps to grow trees. For example, did you know that 54.7 percent of all paper in the U.S. is currently recycled?

Not only is there a plethora of green facts and tidbits, there’s also sections where you can read stories about real tree farmers, sign up to receive email updates and help spread the word through your social media sites.

We commend the PGAMA for their hard work and we will be frequent visitors to the site as it gains momentum and undoubtedly expands its reach.

Green Mythbusters

There’s a lot of information out there concerning eco-friendly paper and sustainable printing. Unfortunately, most of it can be misleading.  Below, we debunk the 5 most popular myths about recycling, and show how going green is easier than you think!

Myth #1: Recycled paper is more expensive than un-recycled paper.

To the contrary, in some instances, recycled paper is actually cheaper than virgin-fiber (un-recycled) paper. In fact, we carry an extensive stock contained of solely recycled products, and much of it is the same, if not lower, cost than virgin paper.

Myth #2: Recycled paper produces sub-par results.

To the naked eye, the results appear almost identical. Colors look vibrant, and the images are clear and robust. There is often little to no quality lost from using recycled paper.  

Myth #3: Using recycled paper doesn’t make that big of a difference.

See the facts below from the EPA. Implementing recycled paper and sustainable print practices is always better for the environment than using virgin paper.

“Compared to using virgin wood, paper made with 100% recycled content uses 44% less energy, emits 38% less greenhouse gas emissions, 41% less particulate emissions, 50% less wastewater, 49% less solid waste, and of course, 100% less wood.”

Myth #4: Printing less is the best way to help the environment.

Actually, the opposite is true. As time progresses, more fibers used in making pulp for paper comes from managed forests. Managed forests treat trees as a crop, and they are planted and harvested in order to provide reusable resources (in this case, paper). So, printing responsibly actually helps produce more trees, which enhances the earth, and helps the environment overall. So go ahead, keep printing!

Myth #5: Recycling is too time consuming.

There are many things you can do that don’t take any extra time or effort. Printing only what you need when you need it is a great environmental philosophy to follow (and doing this will not only save you time but keep you more organized). If you do need to print documents, print them on recycled paper or paper that comes from managed forests – you’ll be helping trees grow! It’s all about changing the way you do things. You don’t have to sacrifice anything to go green, just remaining aware of your environmental impact is a great start.