Thursday, December 3, 2009

Eco-Friendly Conundrum

Hello Blogland! I know I've been quiet and for that I apologize. Every year seems to get busier and busier. With any luck one of these days I'll get it all figured out and there won't be these giant gaps in posting. Until then, I want to thank those of you that still check in regularly.

So today I wanted to share a typical decision with which I have to grapple in my professional work. I feel very strongly that using recycled and environmentally produced products is a responsibility of every one of us, but particularly those of us that handle paper as part of their job. I'd been using a particular felted finish, recycled cardstock for more than a year with which I was generally happy. Lately though, my printer and this cardstock decided to feud (I think it was the finish) and the result of which was a lot of poor quality prints and a lot of waste. That made me cranky. I would have staring competitions with my printer and say an angry little prayer every time I had to print something. Realizing that wasn't a sustainable business practice (and it rarely had any noticeable impact) I went on a search for a new recycled white cardstock.

My needs are simple: heavy weight, true white, smooth finish (no more felted finish), FSC certified, produced conscientiously, include recycled content.

Today I went to make the final selection and found myself torn.

I found two contenders that had most (if not all) of the criteria that appeal to me. Contestant Number One (No.1, henceforth) was a bright white, 80 lb. cardstock consisting of FSC certified, 100% PCF recycled content. No.1's production was chlorine-free, carbon neutral (via the legally binding and voluntary Carbon Neutral Plus agreement), and made with 100% renewable green energy. I asked if No.1 was available in a heavier weight and was told it only came in 80lb. I found out later by searching the company's website that there is a 100 lb. option available.

Contestant Number Two (No.2, henceforth) was a crazy bright white, 100 lb cardstock consisting of FSC certified 10% PCF recycled content. No.2's parent company is involved in the Sustainable Forestry Initiative via their certified fiber sourcing efforts. No.2 is also certified by the Rainforest Alliance and donates $275,000 annually to the WWF through the purchase of their products.

Tough decision. On the one hand the production and recycled content of No.1 were definitely preferable. On the other hand No.2's brightness and weight were more along the line of what I truly wanted and they donate money to a worthwhile environmental charity.

In the end, I chose to forgo the weight I originally wanted and went with No.1. Now that I know I can get No.1 in the heavier weight I am even happier with my decision. And the best part...the cardstock prints beautifully! I did test No.2 and the weight was not a problem. I'm not going to go giving away the source for the one I decided to choose (a girl has to protect her business, you know), but No.2 is the EarthChoice line by Domtar.

So now you have a little insight on the selection process I go through when choosing my raw materials. I hope you've enjoyed learning a little more about my business. Take care and I'll try and post again when I get some free time.

1 comment:

Elena said...

I do appreciate your sharing of these types of issues. I was impressed, way back when, when you shared your craft room and noted that you recycled every little scrap of paper. I also recycle my scraps, in two ways--stuff that's a mess or isn't in anyway usable goes into the recycling bin; any leftover pieces of dp, colored cardstock, etc., goes to a kindergarten class where I teach, to be used in an art center.
I have not been as careful in my scrutiny about the sources of my cardstock--I buy PTI for the most part, as well as a lot of dp from cosmo cricket and basic grey. But now I'm wondering...perhaps I should be digging deeper. I do not sell the cards I create; I give them to my colleagues and my children's teachers. But I would like to use more "green" cardstock in the process. How would you compare either No. 1 or No. 2 to PTI white? And in the interest of caring for the environment, why wouldn't you share your research findings so others could make better choices? Just a thought...and really, truly, not meant to be snarky at all. (I guess I have no idea what kind of business competition you have; I come from a very different perspective.) --Elena