Stop the Madness of Paper Consumption: Make a Shrink Pledge Today!

Posted: 11 June 2008 in Capitalism, Paper consumption

Shrink, a new campaign and website was launched on Monday, aimed at reducing paper consumption. Here’s the Shrink campaign‘s press release (9 June 2008):

A network of more than 50 European environmental non-governmental organisations today launches “Shrink”, a joint project addressing the madness of over-consumption of paper. Individuals as well as corporate and institutional paper users are invited to pledge to cut their paper consumption, on the new website www.shrinkpaper.org.

“Almost everyone in industrialised countries uses paper every day, but we have become careless. For example, 65% of print-outs and photocopies, many of which could be read on screen, land in the bin before the end of the day, and junk mail and catalogues are clogging our mailboxes,” said Mandy Haggith of the European Environmental Paper Network (EEPN). “Paper production and use is directly linked to grave negative impacts on forests, biodiversity, on water resources, on the global climate and on human rights, through irresponsible producers. All of us can help to change this, starting today by making a pledge on shrinkpaper.org.”

The website enables people to make a personal pledge to use less paper and commit to simple actions, such as signing off junk mail and printing double-sided if printing cannot be substituted by electronic channels. It provides useful tips for running a comprehensive paper use reduction programme in an office, and how to save costs by doing so. The website will provide a running tally of the amount of trees, water, pollution and climate change emissions saved through the pledges made.

Helma Brandlmaier from WWF International said, “Responsible paper production practices are necessary and possible. But we also need to tackle our careless and wasteful consumption. People in developed countries are using way more than their share while children in developing countries do not have paper to write on or books to read.”

Industrialised countries consume more resources than the world can supply while staying within its carrying capacity: if everyone on earth had the consumption habits of Europeans we would require more than two planets. The madness of over-consumption of paper is just one example of many where people need to cut waste, leading the way so governments and corporations can follow.

Coinciding with the global launch of “Shrink” is a specific communication focus by the EEPN in the UK to some of the UK’s biggest paper consumers – banks, magazine publishers, catalogue companies and supermarkets – inviting them to show global responsibility and to commit to paper use reductions following the example of individual pledges on http://www.shrinkpaper.org.

“Unnecessarily huge volumes of paper are distributed by large corporations as packaging, mailings and publications, so we are asking some of the biggest paper users to commit to reducing their paper footprint. Our aim is to generate a society-wide understanding of the need to cut wasteful paper use and to help both big and small consumers to take action to make real reductions,” said Judy Rodrigrues of Greenpeace International.

“The environmental impacts of paper consumption are vast”, said Otto Miettinen of Friends of the Earth Finland. “Making 1kg of paper requires 98kg of other resources, uses vast amounts of energy and water and causes pollution. Almost half (42%) of all industrially logged timber is pulped to make paper products, much of it sourced from old-growth and other endangered and high conservation-value forests. The paper industry’s climate change emissions, including forest impacts, production, transportation and disposal, are more than three times those of global aviation. Europeans use four times as much paper as the global average so we are responsible for a disproportionate share of those impacts. We must use less paper.”

“In addition to problems created for biodiversity, the paper industry also has negative social impacts, so saving paper is also an ethical issue”, said Peter Gerhardt of Robin Wood. “In some cases deforestation or chemical emissions by the pulp and paper industry endanger people’s livelihoods and have negative impacts on the health, well-being and stability of local communities. In some areas, forests or other natural ecosystems are being cleared for conversion to plantations with limited ecological value, employing toxic chemical herbicides and fertilisers, and with devastating consequences for local people.”

“By using paper more efficiently, companies and individuals can cut paper purchases and related costs such as toner, storage, handling time and disposal, so as well as the environmental and social benefits of saving paper, it can also save money” said Jim Ford of ClimateForIdeas.org.

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