According to a new survey “Paper’s Place in a Post-Pandemic World” commissioned by the non-profit group Two Sides North America and conducted by the global research firm Toluna, 67% of consumers believe that electronic communication is better for the environment than print on paper (Rowzie 3). Unfortunately, that 67% is very unaware of the invisible environmental footprint electronic devices have from the mining of raw materials like iron, copper, and rare earth minerals for production to the fossil fuel used to produce and operate those devices and the server forms that support them (Rowzie 3). However, the biggest black mark against the sustainability report card of digital communication is the enormous and growing amount of e-waste that is generated each year (Rowzie 3).
Most townships have laws preventing the dumping of electronic devices, which includes televisions, computers, I-pads, small appliances, etc., into landfills because of the toxic nature of these devices due to the components inside. Outdated and broken devices need to be handled by special companies which is both inconvenient and expensive. Recently, it cost me $300.00 to get rid of two old computers, a monitor and printer. This is not what I would consider environmentally friendly.
Paper on the other hand is. Paper companies replant two trees for every one harvested; derives two-thirds of its production power from renewable, carbon neutral biofuel; cleans and returns 90% of the water used; and recycles more than 95% of the chemicals used to turn trees into pulp for paper (Rowzie 3). In addition, paper has a 66% recovery rate and is the most recycled material in the US according to the Environmental Protection Agency (Rowzie 3). And that is just the paper (for more facts regarding the environmental sustainability of print and paper products, please visit www.twosidesna.org/two-sides-fact-sheet).
When printers such as Cox partner with reforestation non-profits like PrintReleaf, the environmental benefits are even greater. We track our paper consumption by the pound, and then convert this into “trees” to be planted in reforestation projects around the world. This is in addition to the paper companies replanting efforts. Through April 2021, Cox has sponsored the planting of 261 trees in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. We are currently holding a voting contest to see which of the eight reforesting projects that PrintReleaf is currently working with that Cox will support in the future. For more information about PrintReleaf and the reforestation projects they are sponsoring, please go to www.printreleaf.com/forestry.
Cox Printers is one of the many in the industry that takes “print on paper” environmental sustainability very seriously. In addition to partnering with the PrintReleaf organization, we promote zero carbon footprint papers like Roland, and receive a portion our power from solar panels and wind turbines on our roof. In addition, we have a roof top garden where we grow flowers and vegetables to support our beehives. For more information regarding our sustainability efforts, please visit our website at www.coxprinters.com/green-initiatives.
Just to be clear, we are not suggesting that you throw away your I-pads and computers, and not use email or surf the web anymore. What we are promoting is balanced approach and to be open to the benefits of “print on paper” especially when it comes to environmental sustainability. By the way, go ahead and feel free to print out this article. It is not going to hurt the environment we live in.
Rowzie, Kathi – Has the Pandemic Changed the Way US Consumes Access News and Information; Two Sides North America (twosidesna.org)