Why Print Is Saving the Forests
Have you ever seen the phrase “Think before you print” or “Do you really need to print this email message”. One of our AlphaGraphics owners even has a phrase at the bottom of his emails stating “Please consider the environment. Do you need to print this email?” These phrases and those that are similar have been born under the going green, climate changing, ecological, conservation minded, save the forests mode that the world is in right now. These are causes that, we at AlphaGraphics whole-heartedly support and are conscious of every day. The only problem with the “don’t print this” mentality is that the reduction of printed material has the exact opposite effect on the long-term health of our forests.
Print Grows Trees
The Printing and Graphics Association MidAtlantic (PGAMA) is associated with the Printing Industries of America (PIA). They took it upon themselves to start a program entitled Print Grows Trees and they published a book under the same title. I recently purchased this book from them from the PGAMA website. The book is only a few pages long and is more of a coffee table book with lots of large printing and beautiful pictures. In fact, I have read the book twice and both times I finished it in about 20 minutes. I would highly recommend the purchase for any printers that are struggling to explain why print still has value and it makes great lobby reading.
The book starts out with a few facts:
A third of U.S. soil is covered in forests, about 747 million acres
Over half of the forests in the U.S. are privately owned.
60% of the wood harvested in the U.S comes from family-owned forests.
About 20% of family-owned forests are owned by someone at least 75 years old. It is expected that approximately 55 million acres of these forests will be transferred or sold in the next 5 years.
Between 1850 and 1910, the U.S. lost about 1/3 of its forests to agriculture and other development, approximately 190 million acres. Most of the farm land in the middle of our country was once forest lands.
80% of all rain that falls east of the Mississippi River falls on family owned forests and 1/3 of all drinking water comes from forest lands.
It is expected that by year 2050, we will lose another 20 million acres of forests from natural disasters, development or conversion to agriculture lands.
So Why Does All of the Above Matter?
Most people realize in this day and age why forests are important. They sequester carbon, they help provide clean air and water, they provide a natural habitat to a lot of animals and plant life and they help keep the earth from warming. The private owners of these forests have supported their investments in the forest lands by harvesting selected trees on their land and then replanting those trees, called silviculture. As time has gone by, the methods of doing this have become even more sensitive to the environment. As the demand for paper decreases, we will start to see a process called “cut and run”, whereby the landowners will harvest the trees and then not replace them. The land will be re-purposed or sold for development. The land has to produce some revenue just to pay the annual property tax and estate taxes upon death.
So the conclusion here is that print increases the demand for paper and this helps to keep the forests alive with new growth. If we shut down that demand, the new growth will stop and the forests will slowly decrease in acreage.
The book covers a few other areas that I will not go into detail here but will summarize:
The production of paper has become quite environmentally efficient. 63.4% of paper is now recycled and 60% of paper produced uses bio-fuels and the excess is used for bio-energy.
Significant jobs will naturally be lost in the printing, publishing and paper manufacturing process in the next 8 years, somewhere between 16% and 25%.
The Lacey Act of 2008 prohibits the importation and use of paper which has been harvested illegally.
The process of printing has become more environmentally friendly in the last decade.
An average digital server farm in the U.S. uses the same energy as 25,000 homes and are the fastest growers of the usage of fossil fuels in the world. Their energy usage is doubling each year.
We, at AlphaGraphics, have taken steps to make sure that the paper we use in our printing process is mostly from FSC certified forests and we have obtained our FSC chain-of-custody certification so that our customers can have the FSC logo on their printed materials if they so choose. I wrote a previous blog post on what being FSC certified means to our customers.
So, in conclusion, “Please think of the environment. Do you really need to forward this email?”
You can always contact us at the following AlphaGraphics websites: