Maximize recycled content in papers. Each ton of postconsumer recycled freesheet that replaces a ton of virgin fiber saves 24 trees and reduces greenhouse gas emission by 37%. Using recycled fiber to make paper reduces pressure on forests and on the people and ecosystems that depend on them.

Use Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or equivalent certified fiber. The Forest Stewardship Council is widely regarded as ensuring the best practices in forest management. Using paper that carries the FSC logo ensures that the fiber was not sourced from endangered forests, and that existing forests weren't cleared to make way for single-species tree plantations. FSC certification also requires that the rights of indigenous communities are respected in areas where logging takes place.

Reduce paper use. Reduce trim size, and evaluate the weight of the paper being used for each project to see if a lighter-weight paper would be suitable. In the office, make sure that printers, copiers and faxes are set to print double sided. If possible, read e-mails, reports and other documents on a computer screen rather than printing them out.

Use papers that are labeled processed chlorine free (PCF). Avoid papers that are bleached using chlorine or chlorine compounds. Recycled papers that are bleached without the use of chlorine or chlorine compounds will be labeled PCF, while papers made of 100% virgin fiber that are bleached without the use of chlorine compounds will be labeled TCF (Totally Chlorine Free)

Print with inks that contain low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It is best to print with vegetable-based inks that contain less than 5% VOCs. Keep in mind that not all vegetable-based inks have a low VOC content.

Reduce energy consumption in offices and other buildings. Upgrading to more efficient lighting, reducing unnecessary lighting and making the most of natural light sources can reduce an office's total energy use by 25%. Making minor adjustments to the thermostat and ensuring that the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is the appropriate size and operating efficiently can reduce office energy use by 20%. Adjusting settings on computers and other office equipment to make sure they turn off or go into a power-saving mode when not used can also greatly reduce energy use.

Purchase renewable energy certificates to offset emissions that can't be avoided. It is possible to purchase renewable energy certificates (RECs), which have the effect of purchasing energy derived from wind, solar or other renewable sources. While it may not be possible to eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions, it is possible to offset some of the emissions that do still occur. Offsetting involves supporting projects that reduce or sequester greenhouse gas emissions in another location.

Incorporate social and environmental responsibility as a line-item in the budget.

Source: Tyson Miller, Green Press Initiative

Glossary of Terms

Postconsumer Recycled Content: The portion of a paper that is made from material that was purchased by an end user, discarded and recycled. Examples of postconsumer fiber include recovered mixed office paper and newspapers that have been purchased by a consumer and recycled.

Preconsumer Recycled Content: The portion of a paper that is made from material that is recycled, but was never purchased by an end user. Examples of preconsumer recycled content include scraps at the paper mill that are recycled and recycled magazines and newspapers that were never purchased by a consumer.

Processed Chlorine Free (PCF): Paper in which the recycled content is bleached without chlorine or chlorine derivatives. Typically, PCF papers are bleached using hydrogen peroxide, oxygen or ozone.

Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF): Paper processed without elemental chlorine but with a chlorine derivative known as chlorine dioxide. ECF papers meet EPA regulations for bleaching, and chlorine is “non-detectable” by required government-standard tests of the effluent of mills that use an ECF bleaching process. Despite nondetectable levels in these government-standard tests, more sensitive tests show that small amounts of chlorine are present—making the ECF process not the environmentally preferable bleaching practice.

Certified Fiber: Fiber that has been certified by an independent third party to ensure that it was sourced legally and that it meets certain environmental conditions. There are several certification systems in North America, including the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).

Carbon Offset: A carbon offset occurs when an individual company or organization directly or indirectly (by funding projects in other locations) removes greenhouse gases from the atmosphere or prevents a certain quantity of greenhouse gases from being released.

Source: Tyson Miller, Green Press Initiative