How does the technology we use change the way we’re reading? This article behind Scientific American’s tweet last Friday reports that reading on paper still boasts unique advantages over increasingly prevalent e-readers and tablets. Understanding how reading on paper is different from reading on screens requires some explanation of how the brain interprets written language. The human brain develops specialized circuits or regions for object recognition, including text. The edges, corners and physicality of paper text have a more obvious topography than onscreen text: that is, all of those tangible features of paper text make it easier to form a coherent mental map of the text. In contrast, most screens interfere with intuitive navigation of text and inhibit people from mapping the reading journey in their minds. For this reason, engineers and designers will continue to make reading on an e-reader as close to reading on paper as possible.
Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, has begun ranking its suppliers on sustainability. Since launching a sustainability program in 2006, the retail giant has reduced energy consumption in its stores, added solar panels, curbed emissions and recycled millions of tons of trash. Now, Walmart is looking to extend its operation with a supplier sustainability index. The corporation will create a competitive sustainability ranking for many of the 150,000 products sold in its stores. As always with Walmart, the opportunity is to drive change at scale. If all goes according to plan, it could change the way all kinds of consumer products – clothes, toys, electronics and beverages – are made.
If you’re planning a summer get-away, there are increasingly more options for green travel without sacrificing the luxuries or comforts you hope to have. Thankfully, this list of green vacation spots will help make all our travels as green as possible. From exploring the eco-tourism in Madagascar to basking in the geothermal energy of Iceland’s spas, these locations are completely powered by renewable energy and can help you get off the power grid while you’re off the grid.
In recycling news, the United States EPA has reevaluated existing regulations to permit the recycling of plastic scrap containing levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) less than 50 parts per million. PCB production has been banned in the United States since 1979 due to is links to cancer and other toxic effects. This new interpretation allows more plastics to be recycled while continuing to prevent dangerous levels of PCBs from entering the environment. According to the Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, 1 million to 2 million tons of plastic are generated annually, most of which could be separated and recycled.
Hi, there – It’s Milton Pant, VP of the office green team, reporting for duty! It’s been a while since we last discussed tactics to thwart the office printing offenders. While a lot of the tactics we previously used have helped these folks curb the paper wasting, there are additional things we could be doing to help with overall office sustainability. And wouldn’t you know it? I have come up with a new weapon for our sustainability arsenal.
I call it “the draft printer for the daft printer!” What is it? Well, besides brilliant, it’s a great option for your office to reuse not only your office paper supply, but also derelict printing technology that may be gathering some dust. By converting a printer to “draft printer” status, it can keep discarded paper and an idled printer from out of a landfill.
Here’s how it works:
- Find a printer that’s old or being phased out and designate it as the “draft printer” in an announcement to coworkers. It should be used for the printing of emails, draft documents or other preliminary works that don’t require professional, finished appeal. And remember; be sure to encourage your coworkers to recycle the reused paper once they have finished with it!
- Load the printer with paper that has previously been printed on and discarded, so that the draft printer can print on the unused, blank side of the paper.
- Set a box near the recycling bin for coworkers to deposit paper in for loading the draft printer. This box should advise to deposit only paper that is still blank on one side.
- Watch the printing use begin! As the paper gets low on reusable paper, restock it from the designated reusable paper box.
Pretty simple, right? It may take a while for all of the printing personalities in your office to get used to it, but we’ve found that even the Distracted Diva and the Waster can get on board with this new system.
Your coworkers will begin to see the sustainable lifecycle of a piece of paper as they use it from new sheet, to reused draft printout, and lastly, it’s chance for renewal in the recycling bin.
What are some sustainability initiatives that you’ve tried in your own office? Were they successful? We’d love to hear about it. And, if you decide to try the “draft printer” tactic, let us know how it goes!
Milton Pant, Vice President of the Office Green Team
Photo: Shutterstock via Earth 911
Recycled paper gets a second life and helps bring new possibilities to people with disabilities through the project, “heArtwork.” Created by passionate 20-somethings from Network of Organizations Working for People with Disabilities Pakistan (NOWPDP), the project works to enhance social inclusion and economic sustainability for people with disabilities. HeArtwork is designed to be a model in both innovation and sustainability through recycling waste paper and other products and utilizing them to make crafts that are sold in corporate and consumer markets. This process will produce revenue for the heArtwork students, all who have some kind of physical, mental, or emotional impairment.
Earth 911 recently heralded the importance of paper recycling by composing a helpful and concise refresher guide on everything you need to know about it. Did you know that by recycling one ton of paper we save 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water and 463 gallons of oil? The guide covers the basics of paper recycling, such as explaining how the process takes place, as well as the details of how to recycle properly. The article also addresses some of those paper recycling conundrums, and includes practical information and statistics. For example, 76 percent of paper mills used some recovered paper in 2011. By understanding how this process works and what you can do to ensure recyclable paper doesn’t end up in a landfill, you can help keep this number high.
Energy Digital recently reported on the positive effects that sustainability initiatives have on corporate productivity. Jones Lang LaSalle‘s new Global Sustainability Perspective (GSP) report identifies the important role that employee engagement plays in producing sustainable change. The findings suggest that sustainable engagement boosts overall performance on the job and shows that employees enjoy work more and are more productive when they see their companies acting in a socially responsible manner. This positive side effect should be only further incentive for companies and corporations to think through their sustainability efforts.
GreenBiz.com tackles the not-so-simple question ‘What is sustainability, anyway?” It dives into a slew of available definitions to find the most accurate explanation. For example, the EPA offers that sustainability is a way to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony. Ultimately, GreenBiz concluded that SustainAbility’s thoughtful articulation of the topic is the most thorough description. It states that sustainability is “not only the future of our society for today’s industries and businesses, it is also about commercial success. The mandate to transform businesses to respect environmental limits while fulfilling social wants and needs has become an unparalleled platform for innovation on strategy, design, manufacturing and brand, offering massive opportunities to compete and to adapt to a rapidly evolving world.” A perfect definition, however, still remains up discussion. How would you have answered the question above? We would love to hear your thoughts.
Lastly in today’s news—happy April Fools Day! At Choices, we think you should get in the joking spirit and try a new reuse option for plastic wrap: cover your officemate’s chair or computer!
If someone asked you what paper is made from, what would you say? Probably trees, maybe pulp, or perhaps even papyrus (a la the ancient Egyptians), but would you ever guess it can now be made from stone?
Stone paper—a flexible, mineral-based medium—is a real thing, and its unique characteristics are ascending its popularity as a writing surface. There is a tactile difference between stone and traditional paper: to the touch, the mineral pages are smoother and slicker; ink still writes well, although some gel inks may take a minute or two to dry. Finally, since the rock paper is not woven out of fibers, the sheets are more difficult to tear.
Stone paper products have become increasingly popular due to claims that they’re an eco-friendly alternative since the production uses no trees, water, chlorine, acids or petroleum. However, there are other environmental and sustainability challenges associated with stone paper products.
Stone paper is created primarily from the mineral calcium carbonate, one of the planet’s most common substances. Commonly utilized in the paper world as well, calcium carbonate is both a filter and a coating pigment to produce whiter, brighter, glossier paper. It is a sustainable resource found in eggshells, pearls and marine organism shells. The mineral is ground into a very fine powder, comprising 80 percent of the composition of stone paper.
The remaining composition is high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which is one of the most common plastics in the world. The HDPE is an essential component as it binds the calcium carbonate together as well as giving it the flexible and foldable quality of real paper.
HDPE is the same plastic used in milk jugs and plastic bags, hard hats and hula-hoops. The synthetic plastic is made from catalyzed natural gas byproducts, meaning that every ton of stone paper produced requires over 500 pounds of non-renewable fossil fuels to make the 20 percent HDPE needed. HDPE is also a culprit of making up a large part of the growing oceanic plastic garbage patches.
There is also some question concerning the ability to recycle stone paper. Currently, companies are claiming the product is recyclable by both paper and plastic streams. According to the EPA, it is considered a Type 2 plastic, which is widely accepted at recycling centers, but not always. Due to the plastic content of the stone paper, the product is not biodegradable.
At CHOICES we appreciate the innovation behind stone paper. We think that it pushes the responsible paper industry forward towards innovative techniques and evolved practices for recyclable materials. While we’re not aware of alternative-wood fiber advantages over wood fibers procured sustainably, we know that the primary threat to our forests is development, not responsible use. In fact, if we do not use our forestlands as a renewable resource then they are more prone to be sold for development and lost forever. A switch to alternative fibers could actually lead to unintended negative consequences in the long run, at least when compared to responsible fiber procurement (as evidenced by company policies and compliance with third-party certification standards).
For more information about the sustainability of paper made from wood fibers, visit http://www.twosides.us/Paper-Production-Supports-Sustainable-Forestry.
Have you tried using stone paper? Please share your thoughts on the matter in the comments below. We’d love to hear what you think!
Last Friday, the globe celebrated World Water Day. Held annually by UNESCO on March 22, the event means to focus attention on the importance of fresh water and advocate for the sustainable management of water resources. In 2013, in reflection of the International Year of Water Cooperation, World Water Day was also dedicated to the theme of cooperation around water. Read more…