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Setting Up an Ancient Forest Friendly Paper Program in Your Office

Background - 8 December, 2003
Paper consumption is a major factor driving the logging of the world's last ancient forests. It may seem crazy to most of us that hundreds year old trees are being cut down and turned into copy paper, but that is what is happening in Europe and around the world.Reducing paper use is a common sense step in reducing the pressure on ecologically vital forest areas. Using recycled paper and paper sourced from responsible materials (such as Forest Stewardship Council™ certified wood) encourages paper producers to practice responsible materials sourcing.

Female bear in the forest.

General process

  1. Designate a person, or several people, in your office to spearhead an eco-friendly paper program designed to reduce, reuse and recycle paper. Establish the use of only ancient forest friendly paper in your office as a goal.
  2. Monitor paper usage and set targets to reduce the amount of paper used in your unit. Set up competitions and have prizes for departments that best meet the targets of the program.
  3. Include identification of the type of paper used (recycled, tree free, FSC®-certified) on all printed pieces, to educate customers and vendors about the high quality papers available, and your company's environmental commitment.
  4. Only use ancient forest friendly paper (see box).

Ancient forest friendly paper defined
i. Recycled paper,

ii. And/or paper produced with virgin fibre originating from forests certified to the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC®),

iii. And/or tree free paper sources (e.g., agricultural residue, cotton, hemp, flax and kenaf).

Avoid the "recyclable" trap - almost all paper can be recycled - so even if a brand is "100% recyclable" it may not be made from recycled fiber.

For more information on ancient forest friendly paper options visit

A Practical Guide to Reducing Paper in Your Office

Photocopiers and Printers

  • Set photocopy machines and printers to print double-sided by default.
  • Have a tray by the printers and photocopiers for reusing paper printed on one side only. Put instructions on the printer/photocopier on whether to load blank side up, or down. (Warning: Do not reuse papers with sensitive financial, personal or confidential information on the printed side. Reuse only what you would normally throw out un-shredded.)
  • Use single sided waste paper for printing drafts.
  • Introduce codes for use of photocopiers and printers. This can provide insight to everyone's paper consumption. This is particularly helpful and motivating when working towards consumption reduction goals.
  • Ensure paper stocks are stored in dry conditions to reduce potential paper jamming in machines and paper wastage.
  • When purchasing new printers and photocopy equipment, ensure they can easily duplex (technical term for being able to print double sided).
  • Set printer and photocopy machine so that no cover pages are printed.


  • Use two-way envelopes (the same envelope can be used for both send and return) when response is required. This saves paper, inventory, storage, handling and printing costs.
  • Print double sided bills and applications.
  • Reduce the poundage ("weight") of the paper - it will save postage costs.
  • Reuse incoming envelopes for correspondence. Use address labels to cover original information.
  • Use inter-office envelopes, which can be re-used multiple times.


  • Use fax stick it forms rather than cover sheet.
  • Program your machine to eliminate printed confirmation sheets.
  • Format fax carefully so that excessive pages are eliminated.

Paper Avoiding Tactics

  • Circulate electronic memos and staff newsletters, instead of printed versions.
  • Maximize formatting by adjusting fonts, margins and spacing to fit more text on a standard sheet and delete any extra pages at the end of your document.
  • Send/receive faxes from computer.
  • For editing, have several people edit the same document by using various colour fonts (for screen edits).
  • Reuse paper printed on one side for draft documents, note pads, internal memos.

Company Documents/Reports

  • Post electronic versions of annual reports and other company materials.
  • Reduce size of printed pieces by working with your designer and printer to try creative formatting to maximize use of parent sheets for printing.
  • Reduce the poundage of the paper used in the report.

General Office Use

  • Post memos on a central bulletin board.
  • Order all supplies in bulk to minimise packaging waste.
  • Reuse file folders and binders.
  • Change to cloth towel dispensers in place of paper towels.