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Going Paperless to Save Trees? Think Again.

Banks, credit card companies, utilities – any business that sends us a bill urges us to “go paperless” in order to save trees. Deep down we all suspect that this is more about saving the company postage than it is saving forests, but we choose the option because we think we’re helping the cause to fight against deforestation.

We’re wrong.

In reality, avoiding the use of paper may result in significant loss of trees in North America, according to findings by Dovetail Partners, Inc., a trusted source of environmental information. In a nutshell, their findings are that more demand ultimately means more trees.

Forests are renewable and wood is a low-carbon, abundant and recyclable material. The demand for wood products leads to the continued expansion in both area coverage and volume of North American forests. Additionally, without the demand for wood by paper manufacturers, a significant number of landowners will turn to different markets, reduce tree planting, or may convert the land to urban development or agriculture. Going paperless could result in the loss of entire forests and the habitat these provide.

More than 60% of the nation’s pulp and paper mills are located in the South. Five states – Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and South Carolina produce over half of the nations pulp wood. The South’s forests produce more wood products than any nation, accounting for 25% of the world’s pulpwood for paper and 18% of its industrial timber

Over 96% of the wood harvest comes from privately owned lands and therefore, creates employment for the private sector. It should be noted that pulpwood represents a substantial market, with more than half of the wood harvested going to make pulp, paper, and paperboard. Pulp and paper mills are hiring in some of the hardest hit areas of the nation for job seekers.

The message is clear, if you love trees and want to see more of them planted, and you want promote a sustainable industry that creates jobs for the private sector, include printed matter in your next marketing campaign.