You’ve likely heard the mantras: “Go paperless, go green” or “Save trees,” the common calls to action to prevent deforestation. But the claims are misleading and, well, wrong.
The truth is, more trees are grown in North America than are harvested. According to Two Sides North America, a non-profit organization promoting sustainability and the dispelling of common environmental misconceptions, forests in the U.S. increased by 14 million acres between 2007 and 2012. And in Canada, the span of forestland has remained stable for the past two decades, and in recent years, actual harvest has been 44 percent of annual growth. Furthermore, providing access to pulp and paper markets gives landowners an incentive to keep their forests as forests.
Yet, misconceptions about the North American paper industry causing deforestation persist.
To illustrate just how quickly North American forests can generate frequently used products, Two Sides recently calculated the time it would take to grow a standard #10 envelope and a typical 500 sheet ream of office paper. The calculation method took into account the density of varying types of wood, soil conditions, density of forestland, tree species and growing conditions. The ultimate objective was to offer an estimate of the time it takes to grow the given paper products.
And the results…It would only take up to 1.9 seconds per acre of managed North American forest to grow a single #10 envelope! And your standard 500-sheet ream of 8.5 x 11 copy paper? Only 2.2 hours!
Taken a step further, the calculations mean that a tree farmer with 100 acres of commercial pulpwood could produce enough fiber in one year to produce 15.8 million #10 envelopes or 4,000 reams of copy paper, according to the Two Sides report.
The push to protect trees is noble because they are capable of so much good.
For example, a single tree is capable of absorbing 10 pounds of carbon dioxide every year. A mature oak can take in 369 gallons of water each day, important for oxygen production and the prevention of soil erosion. And just one tree can produce the same cooling effect as 10 air conditioning units running for 20 hours a day.
Forests cover roughly a third of the world’s landmass, making them vital to life on earth. They provide the air that we breathe, filter the water that we drink and provide habitat for more than half the world’s terrestrial species.
So, want to help grow trees and forestlands? Consider buying paper. Learn more about sustainability and paper at The Paper Trail.