The True Cost of Paper
Mandy Haggith's book 'Paper Trails' combines passionate description and cold analysis of the destruction of old growth forest around the world, to feed the 'developed' economies' voracious appetite for paper products, from tissues to packaging and junk mail. Haggith supports Shrink Paper and Forest Movement Europe (FME) - itself made up of big campaigns like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the WWF, plus a long tail of smaller organisations.
Shrink Paper's aim is nothing less than to reduce Europe's consumption of paper by 50%, and it has provoked a concerted PR backlash from the European papermaking industry, as well as some of the larger printing companies, who have created a campaign called Two Sides to defend their record on the environment and social impacts, and rebut what it calls the 6 Myths about paper.
Haggith's argument is that the social impacts of old growth forest destruction, and the creation of monoculture plantations, are even more pernicious than their environmental impacts. All over the world - from Canada to northern Russia, Indonesia and South America - indigenous and local peole's livelihoods and freedoms are under attack because of the paper industry's depradations.
It's worth quoting from FME's manifesto at more length: " We .. want to see a Europe that consumes dramatically less paper than at present, with all that paper made by an industry that is less reliant on virgin tree fibres, maximises the use of recycled materials, respects local peoples' land-rights, provides employment and has social impacts that are beneficial, conflict free and fair."
Calverts supports the basic propositions of Paper Trails, even though we realise that this means working in an industry - design for print - that needs to shrink even faster than the 4-5% per annum of the last decade. In fact, we would like to see a 'Fair Trade' mark for forest products which guarantees prices and standards for producer co-operatives.
Calverts has long advocated and promoted 100% or part-recycled paper as the way forward for any designer or publisher who is seriously interested in improving the environmental impacts of our trade. Although we are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified printers, we think that 'sustainably sourced' virgin fibre paper comes second.
Printers - and print designers - are gatekeepers of our society's use of graphic paper, and we take that responsibility seriously. We know that good design, informed by careful media planning and an understanding of the technicalities of the print production process, can reduce the quantity, impacts and financial cost of most projects by at least 20% . We have three copies of Paper Trails to give away (oh and by the way, yes it's exemplary book design and uses 100% recycled paper.) If you'd like one, email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring +44 (0) 20 7739 1474 and ask for Sion Whellens, the author of this post. Good reading! Paper Trails - The True Cost of Paper is published by Virgin Books, ISBN 978-0-7535-1329-3