Recycled Paper to Write Home About

The benefits of producing paper from recycled fibers are many: fewer trees cut down, less water and energy consumed, less pollution generated. But more than 90 percent of printing and writing paper still comes from virgin tree fiber. To help expand the market for recycled paper while meeting your needs and budget, here are some things to look out for when buying paper:

Paper with a higher percentage of post-consumer content is the best choice. If packaging doesn’t show the percentage, contact the manufacturer.

If you can’t buy a paper product that is 100 percent recycled, look for the Forest Stewardship Council certification label. This paper comes from forests managed in an environmentally responsible manner.

Paper doesn’t have to come from wood pulp; fibers from hemp, kenaf, flax, cotton, banana stalks, and other plant-based materials can be used to produce paper with fewer chemicals and less energy. Tree-free paper is generally more expensive, but is available from a variety of companies.

Papers (even tree-free ones) are often bleached with chlorine or chlorine derivatives that form dioxin—a known carcinogen—and other compounds that pollute local air and water supplies. Look for products labeled either processed chlorine free (PCF) or totally chlorine free (TCF).

For a full guide to recycled paper, check out Conservatree’s database of recycled paper products.