Print Helps Protect Forests

Posted by on Aug 26, 2016 in Blog, Graphic Design, Marketing | 0 comments

Print Helps Protect Forests

by Gerry Bonetto for Graphic Design USA, August 2016

There’s a very popular myth out there about the relationship between print on paper and forests. You may have even heard your clients say, “Cutting trees for paper threatens forests.” Lots of people think this. Many companies have even used this myth to motivate customers to switch from paper bills to electronic bills. But the reality is, it’s just not true. Here’s why.


In the U.S. today, trees are grown as a crop. As Bob Lindgren, President of Printing Industries Association, Inc. of Southern California (PIASC) explains, “When we consume vegetables, whether that be wheat, corn, spinach or broccoli, that farmer is going to grow more wheat, corn, spinach and broccoli. In the same way, if we’re using paper by putting ink on that paper, this means that a tree farmer is going to grow more trees.”

Strong wood markets, including the demand created by print, provide an incentive for private foresters to hold their land rather than sell it for other use. With over half of U.S. forestland being privately owned—and 62% of this private land owned by families and individuals—this financial incentive is vital.1

“By using print on paper,” adds Bob, “we are giving that tree farmer income so that they can manage, renew and take care of that forest in a very responsible manner.”

In spite of the ongoing demand for wood-based products, there are actually more trees in the U.S. today than there were 100 years ago. According to the USDA Forest Service, four million trees are planted every day in the United States. Of this amount, the wood and paper products industry plants an average of 1.7 million trees daily.2

A Forest Landscape with Trees and Sunset Sunrise

The people who believe that cutting trees for paper threatens forests don’t realize that our industry plants more trees than are used. For every tree that is cut down, three or four are planted. The obvious benefits are huge: cleaner air and less carbon footprint. The benefit is not only from a sustainability standpoint for our environment, but also sustainability for the mills. After all, if the mills are going to cut down trees and never replant, they would be going out of business.

The bottom line is, cutting trees for paper does not threaten forests. The real threat to forests is that people will stop using paper, thereby reducing the market for wood products and making it economically unviable for landowners to continue to grow trees.

1Two Sides North America, Print and Paper: The Facts
2Paper Because, Truth or Fiction?, accessed May 2016

CHOOSE PRINT is an educational campaign designed to promote the effectiveness of print and to reinforce the fact that print on paper is a recyclable and renewable and thus a sustainable environmental choice. Choose Print reports that:

•  Only 33% of the fibers used to make paper comes from virgin trees; 33% comes from wood chips and scrap from sawmills, and 33% comes from recycled paper.

•  Strong wood markets, including the demand created by print, provide an incentive for private foresters to hold their land rather than sell it for other use.

•  There are more than 750 million acres of U.S. forestland (that’s one-third of the U.S.). Of this, 56% is privately owned.

•  Up to 105 million acres of private U.S. forests are likely to be sold or transferred in the near future. With no financial incentive to grow trees, these forests may be permanently converted to other uses.

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