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Greenrinsing the Seneschal

Hello happy reader,

This month, I have been moving through the second and third phases of certification from San Francisco’s Green Business Program. It has helped me, a fairly rabid environmentalist, to validate existing procedures and identify areas of my business where I can continue to improve current practices.

Common stuff, like the use of compact fluorescents and low flow water fixtures, have been in place for a dozen years. Minimizing the use of paper products is another area where we’ve been aggressive but, the occasional hard copy can’t be avoided. Post–consumer waste content is often the only metric for the thoughtful consumer but during research for a client’s print piece earlier this year, I discovered another factor to consider when purchasing paper for your business: halogens.

When paper manufacturing moved from traditional cotton rag, hemp and other high quality sources to wood pulp as the principal fiber used, the whole process of papermaking changed in a very short period of time. Since trees are a far from ideal source of fiber for formulating high quality paper, chlorine has been used to improve the whiteness and reflectivity of the resulting product.

Trouble is, chlorine is nasty stuff and, when it combines with organic molecules, creates a waste problem that has significant environmental impact. More forward thinking paper companies have been moving away from chlorine in their production processes, typically by substituting ozone as the bleaching agent.

So, next time you’re shopping for paper products for your home and office, check that the product uses a minimum of 35% post–consumer waste and also see if you can’t go with chlorine–free papers as well.

’Till next time, continue to geek and, be considerate of those who will come after us.

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