Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet
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Smithsonian-Practice What You Print


We are calling on Smithsonian to practice what it prints by using recycled paper.


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The Paper Problem

Forests are essential to the life and health of our planet, but they are disappearing at a rate of 20 football fields per second because of pulp and paper production. Every day, natural and biodiverse forests are either completely decimated, or converted to monoculture plantations.

Paper products, including magazines, account for 40% of solid waste in US landfills. After being used once, paper that ends up in the trash releases methane during its long decomposition. However for each ton of recycled paper used to produce a magazine, up to eighteen trees can be spared.

Smithsonian’s Footprint

Smithsonian Magazine has stated that it “leads the conversation” on a wide range of issues, including science and the natural world. It should be in the ranks of leaders setting standards across many industries.

Despite these statements, Smithsonian Magazine is actually a major culprit in the destruction of forests. Smithsonian produces 19 million copies annually on virgin paper. Carbon Dioxide This means that 65,000 trees, enough to cover the National Mall five times, are cut down each year to produce the magazine.

Smithsonian Institution has set sustainability goals to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and energy use. Printing its primary publication, Smithsonian Magazine, on recycled paper would be an obvious way to meet these goals. Unfortunately, Smithsonian has made no moves to incorporate recycled paper into its product, and has no intention of doing so anytime soon. Smithsonian Magazine uses Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified wood for its paper…unfortunately, SFI is currently the weakest certification in the United States and has no limits on clear-cutting trees. SFI also disregards the need for any protection of old growth forests and has no specific requirements in place for maintaining nearby water quality.

Campaign Goals

Green America asks the Smithsonian to do the following:  

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Switch to Better Paper - begin using recycled fiber

Commit to switch to 30% recycled content paper in its magazines by 2017.


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Be a Better Paper leader for the long-term

Adopt and implement a “best in class” environmental stewardship policy that guides continual improvement of paper use practices.

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For virgin paper, commit to the most sustainable option

For any virgin paper needed, only use paper fiber from sustainably managed Forest Stewardship Council certified forests.

Take Action

Tell Smithsonian Magazine you want it to be a leader in the publishing industry by using paper that that does not destroy forests! Take action now.