False Claims, Misconceptions Concerning Paper Industry Should Be Avoided

Submitted by: Phil Riebel 02/22/2013

Meg Callaghan’s Feb. 13 article, “Give the gift of sustainability when making traditional Valentine’s Day exchanges,” was circulated to SUNY-ESF’s Green Campus Initiative’s club listserv. I opened the email anticipating another thought-provoking article from Meg, as I usually look forward to reading her work. Unfortunately, after arriving upon the fourth paragraph, I found some common fallacies regarding the paper industry and its environmental impacts.


February 20 2013

The Daily Orange


Meg Callaghan’s Feb. 13 article, “Give the gift of sustainability when making traditional Valentine’s Day exchanges,” was circulated to SUNY-ESF’s Green Campus Initiative’s club listserv. I opened the email anticipating another thought-provoking article from Meg, as I usually look forward to reading her work. Unfortunately, after arriving upon the fourth paragraph, I found some common fallacies regarding the paper industry and its environmental impacts.

This is, regrettably, a perfect example of the results of commercialism Meg’s article was urging us all to avoid. In the current climate of “sustainable” marketing, it is important for those interested in being sustainable to know the facts about the production and life cycle of their products. Moreover, an educated approach must be taken when addressing sustainable versus unsustainable products, so as not to promote further misconception. As a senior paper science engineer at ESF, I have an obligation to speak on behalf of the industry we so readily rely on.

According to Two Sides U.S., an environmentally conscious nonprofit organization in pursuit of sustainable business, “in the regions with decline of forests it is most often due to agriculture and development.” Sustainably managing forests can combat these degrading transitions and, at the same time, produce paper.  Furthermore, Kraft pulp mills (like the one where much of the paper for Hallmark cards is made) are energy self-sufficient, and often generate excess steam and electricity, which can be used by an associated paper mill or sold to neighboring industries or communities.

I do support what I feel was an important message of Meg’s article: a less-commercialized holiday and celebrating Valentine’s Day purely for showing loved ones how much you care. However, we can attempt to do so without making unsubstantiated false claims concerning a product or industry that is strongly promoted as a part of the innovative environmental institution we attend. A wealth of information can be found with simple web searches or by visiting www.twosides.us, of which ESF is an allied organization.