Green Series: Paper Certification

July 20th, 2010 by

So far in our Green Series, we’ve talked about the different types of recycled paper and about why it’s important to choose chlorine free paper. But what does it mean when paper is certified by an organization like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)?

These days, a lot of the products we see in stores are stamped with labels certifying them as “organic” or “free-trade.” Sometimes these labels are straightforward, but sometimes not. While an FSC certification sounds appealing, how much weight should we give it? If the paper we’re buying is recycled and chlorine free, isn’t that enough?

No. Not if you want to help shift the whole paper production industry away from destructive logging.

Forest Stewardship Council is an international non-profit organization working to promote responsible forest management. This association of forest owners, timber industries, social groups, and environmental organizations has set themselves an impressive mandate; they strive to eliminate habitat destruction, water pollution, displacement of indigenous peoples, and the violence against people and wildlife that often accompanies logging.

So if you see FSCcertification on a label, that means the paper you’re buying comes from only “well-managed forests that have met FSC’s high social and environmental standards.” What those standards are specifically can be found on their website.

In brief, FSC certification means you’re putting your investments towards those who source their wood from responsibly managed forests and away from companies that support illegal and unsustainable logging.

There are other certifications you might see when you shop for paper, such as Ancient Forest Friendly. Even more certifications apply the “green” label more generally to a business and its practices, attesting, for example, that it uses only carbon neutral shipping. In terms of paper production, though, the FSC mark is the one we look for.

Next up in our Green Series: what kind of mark can you make when you choose an ink?