Green America's Better Paper Project works to protect forests, climate, and communities by replacing virgin paper use with recycled paper, curbing our overall use of paper products, and improving the recycling system.
Every day, biologically diverse forests are either destroyed altogether, or converted to tree plantations, releasing massive amounts of carbon from cutting down trees and disturbing the soil. Deforestation accounts for 25% of global carbon emissions caused from human activities. Once used, discarded paper products are not recovered as effectively as they could be, leading to significant loss of fiber which could have been used to make new products and could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Paper and wood products account for over a quarter of all solid waste in US landfills, releasing methane while they decompose. In an increasingly digital world, we are still using paper at a rate that is devastating for our forests and the climate. It's estimated that in the US alone, we use 800 million pounds of paper every day.
In some cases, paper and pulp companies violate the land rights of indigenous peoples and rural communities. The tree pulp for paper comes from places around the world where egregious land violations have taken place, including Indonesia, as well as large parts of South America. Manufacturing paper products also pollutes local water sources and the air. Recycled paper protects land, is less polluting than virgin paper, and reduces negative impacts on communities.
Recycled paper is proven to save trees: using less tree fiber, fresh water, energy, and producing less waste than traditional virgin fiber paper. One ton of magazine paper made from virgin fiber requires fifteen trees. Those trees can remain in the ground if we widely and effectively increase our use of recycled paper. The Better Paper Project's overall goal is to see a reduction in our consumption of paper products. However, we promote the use of "better paper" when necessary, meaning high recycled content and certified by Forest Stewardship Council.
Better Paper Project is also proud to represent Green America on the Environmental Paper Network (EPN), an alliance of organizations working to address challenges and opportunities for social justice and conservation presented by the expanding forest, pulp, and paper industry.