Domtar Starts Massive Advertising Campaign to Let Us Know Why We Love Paper and Need To Print That Email


People are so desperate for real paper, it is like a drug. Full size here

It must be hard, being in the typewriter or the film camera or the CD pressing business, to see your entire industry get vaporized by the digital onslaught. But giant papermaker Domtar isn't taking it lying down; they are behind a big advertising campaign promoting paper. They want us to know how important it is to our lives.

Paper is a sustainable, renewable, recyclable, plant-based product that connects us in so many ways to the important things in life. Great ideas are started on paper. The world is educated on paper. Businesses are founded on paper. Love is professed on paper. Important news is spread on paper.

Except, really it isn't anymore. But they are not stopping there; They actually want you to print that email.

We've all seen the message. Tucked neatly into emails, between a friendly signoff and an Inspirational Quote, it advises readers to think about the environment before they print — and suggests that if they still choose to hit the big green button, they’ll be striking a major blow to our nation’s forests. But how many of us have hovered our cursors over the word “print,” trying to choose between the future of our planet and the ability to annotate documents, take home a hard copy, or work on a report with all our resources at hand?

Yes, how many of us? Now it so happens that Domtar makes much of its paper from FSC sources, and can plausibly make a case that its product is carbon neutral or even negative. But there is more to it than just chopping wood and planting forests.

Did you know that when paper comes from a responsibly managed forest, it actually has a positive impact on the nation's forestland? Paper comes from nature, and it's one of the few truly renewable resources — unlike the fossil fuels that power most electronic devices.

Really? I do recall that paper making was a notorious polluter of rivers, and that it took a lot of energy to produce it, more to package and ship and store and heat and cool the big box store that it is sitting in, and I have seen a few life cycle analyses of it; The Guardian last year noted that "The average email has just one-sixtieth the footprint of a letter, according to a back-of-the-envelope comparison." (Mat weighed in on this a few years ago with older data)


you may love the cloud, but your boss still wants paper. Full size here

Domtar also makes the case that certain tasks are easier on paper than on the screen, such as editing, reading content on the go, or reading g in-depth, long and/or complicated information. I will personally admit that it is really tough to write book reviews from an e-reader; I like to stick paper clips on important pages and do a lot of underlining. But that is a problem with the reader; On some readers and software it is easy to annotate and mark. And as for reading content on the go, they have lost it there, the reader or the ipad is a whole lot smaller and more useful. They are a few years behind the technology here. In the end, about the only case that they can plausibly make is an emotional one:

I'm Paper. Remember me?

I was there when you were born, capturing your height and weight, and even your little footprints. I shined with color, glitter, and paste (lots of paste) when you learned to express your creativity — and I beamed with pride when you first wrote your name, with all the letters facing the right way. I was there the day you earned your first A in math class (posted on the fridge for all to see). And on the day of your graduation, we crossed the stage together. We work together well, too. From your first paycheck to your finest presentation, I've always been your partner.

But I don't get my paycheck on paper anymore, and I never print out a presentation. When I grade my students, it is all electronic. Domtar is trading in nostalgia here, not reality.

Library of Congress/Public Domain

This is an expensive advertising campaign, and some of the videos are quite clever. Unlike film and typewriters, there will always be a need for it. But their ads are like this one from the 1930s, promoting a lost cause.

More at Domtar' PAPER Because, which I think is a LOST cause.

Tags: Advertising | Canada | Electronics

Best of TreeHugger 2014

WHAT'S HOT ON FACEBOOK