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It's OK to Use Paper

Guilt is a useless emotion. Yet “think before you print” messages at the bottom of e-mails seem to want to make people feel bad about printing out documents even when they really need them for work or personal business. In reality, both electronic and print media impact the environment in their own ways – and both have important roles to play in our communications. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. It’s a question of balance and choice of the right tool for the task at hand.

Paper because
Paper has proven itself as an effective method of communication for over 2,000 years. It remains a staple of business correspondence1 and is used in millions of offices worldwide because it offers benefits that simply aren’t provided by digital medium. We absorb information more fully when reading it on paper compared to on screen2. We work better together when discussing a printed document than through digital exchange3. Keeping paper records of our financial transactions can help us keep better track of our money and save us a lot of grief if problems arise4. These are just some of the examples of why paper continues to have its place in today’s digital world. And there are many environmentally-responsible options on the market, like Domtar’s EarthChoice line, that make paper a good choice for meeting your communication needs on those occasions when digital just won’t do. Plus, once you are through using your printed documents, you can always give them a second life by recycling them!

The fact is…
There are environmental repercussions to the use of both printed and digital media, and both sides of the story should be taken into account in your decision about what’s “green”. Here are some facts you may or may not know: Paper is 100% recyclable. In fact, it is one of the most recycled products on the planet5. There are also many responsible paper choices on the market, like Domtar’s EarthChoice line, made with fiber sourced from forests managed in accordance with strict environmental standards and/or with post-consumer fiber. The adoption of such standards has helped make forestry, paper and packaging among the most sustainable industries in existence.6 Some will suggest to you that going digital is better for the planet and that printing is somehow irresponsible. But the repercussions of going “paperless” are complex and, when looked at closely, show that the increasing use of information and communication technologies has serious implications for the environment.7 Feeling a bit confused? Well, here is one thing you can be sure of: Domtar is committed to making paper in a way that considers the good of our planet – and you can print responsibly on our paper. Find out more about our products.

The state of today’s forests
You are not destroying the forest when you use printed media and paper made by Domtar. In fact, contrary to what many say and believe, North America’s forests (where we get our fiber from) remain healthy and prolific. Part of the reason for this is because we have adopted responsible forest management practices under internationally respected forest management standards like the Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC®) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI). Among other things, these standards require that for every tree harvested in a managed forest, several more are replanted or naturally regenerated in its place. Sustainable forest management practices also help protect habitats and rare or threatened ecosystems8, providing safe places for animals to repopulate and plant species to thrive. Trees, which are the primary raw material for making paper, are a renewable resource. What’s more, only a tiny percentage of the world’s trees are being cut down for paper production (e.g. about 1% in Canada9), compared to other human activities like agriculture, urban development and mining, which removes forestland permanently. So if you love the forest, using Domtar paper responsibly is a sound environmental choice.

Both paper and digital media have environmental footprints. Both also have their purpose and undeniable benefits. To suggest the contrary in message at the bottom of an electronic message is misleading and aims to guilt people into making an “either/or” choice that just isn’t necessary. There are many reasons why you can feel OK about printing an e-mail if it helps you be more effective in your work or life – especially when it’s on Domtar paper.


1 2009 Harris Interactive survey on behalf of Earthtone (sample 2,265 US adults aged 18+)
2 What Gets Lost When our Finances Go Paperless, Barbara Kiviat.
3 The Endless Paper Chase, Robert J. Samuelson, Newsweek, December 1, 1997.
4 Pros and Cons of Going Paperless with Your Card Statements,  
5 Vinyard, Joanne. Why Print is Truly Green. In-plant graphics;  
6 CEO Perspectives 2008, Price Waterhouse Coopers


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