Why is it important to buy environmentally friendly paper products? Is there really a big difference?
There is indeed, a big difference when you buy paper products that contains post-consumer recycled content compared to paper products made with virgin wood pulp. Whether it’s napkins, paper towels, toilet paper or printer paper you are choosing, when you buy an eco-friendly paper product, you are “closing the loop” of the recycling system. Recycling is an important thing to do in order to keep useful materials out of the landfill, and many of us are committed recyclers. We can take that commitment one step further by supporting products made with recycled material. Recycling can only be successful if there are consumers to support the market for products made with recycled material.
When it comes to paper, if you’re buying something that claims to be environmentally friendly, it should have a percentage of post-consumer recycled content. This means the product is made at least in part of materials businesses or individuals would normally throw away as waste. The paper we discard- magazines, newspapers, letters, phone books, etc. are deinked, cleansed, and made into a pulp that will eventually produce a new looking paper product, without cutting down another tree. A conscious consumer will check to see how much recycled content is included in whatever is being purchased, and choose the brand with the highest amount of post-consumer recycled content. Some brands use 100% recycled paper pulp.
Another thing to consider is that a lot of eco-friendly paper products do not use chlorine bleach for whitening, or do not whiten their products at all. Keeping bleach out of the manufacturing process means fewer carcinogenic dioxins in the environment, and it is also healthier for people to use as well.
It can be challenging to determine from looking at a package if the product truly is an environmentally friendly one. Stringent 3rd-party certification standards like EcoLogo help take out the confusion. Look for the EcoLogo standard as an assurance that the product has undergone an assessment process is deemed safe for human health and the environment.
Brands like Cascades (a Canadian company) and Seventh Generation, both of which Community Natural Foods carries, go above and beyond by extending the values embedded into their products into the operation of the business itself. Seventh Generation provides support for enhanced legislation and regulation of chemicals. Cascades uses biogas (a renewable form of energy) as an energy source for manufacturing. Buying products from these companies is casting your vote for better business and better products that have less impact on our health and the health of our planet.
Lauren Mangion, Conscious Home