Walking Our Talk: the Paper Project

How well do we walk our talk at YES! magazine? Let me tell you what we're doing about paper.

I am delighted to announce that the magazine you're holding is made from 100 percent post-consumer waste, processed chlorine free. YES! is one of the few magazines in the country to rise to this highest standard for recycled paper.

As you probably know, post-consumer waste goes way beyond “recycled,” which is very loosely defined and may not save a single tree. “Post-consumer waste” means the paper was already printed on, used by a consumer, and then recaptured from the waste stream to make new paper. And while chlorine may have been used to bleach the original paper, “processed chlorine free” means none was used to bleach the new paper. Reusing waste paper means fewer trees cut down and less chlorine released into the waterways. Dioxin is a major by-product of chlorine-based paper making and, as discussed in this issue of YES!, is a hazard to human and ecological health.

It wasn't easy moving from 30 per-cent post-consumer waste, which is more widely available, to our current paper stock. We had to find an environmentally sound, high quality paper that is reliably available. Then we had to convince our printer to use it. The combination of our own determination, the help of an innovative company, New Leaf Paper (www.newleafpaper.com) and some sympathetic mid-level staff at our printer, Banta, made it possible.

Of the 12 billion magazines printed in this country per year, less than 5 percent have any post-consumer waste. You can help change that. One easy way is to send this article to the publisher of a magazine or newsletter you take, or to any organization that uses a lot of paper.  Use the “e-mail ” button at the top of this article, which lets you add your own comments—maybe something like “if YES! can do this, so can you!” Or simply photocopy this article and mail it with your note.

The publisher can go to www.ecopaperaction.org for more information. That's the site of the Paper Project, a collaborative effort of the Independent Press Association, Co-op America, and Conserva-tree, which is helping publications make the switch. With the combination of public pressure and the help of groups like the Paper Project and New Leaf Paper, there is no reason why we can't jump start the market for paper made with high levels of post-consumer waste and save millions of trees.

Fran Korten is Executive Director of the Positive Futures Network.
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