As I pan around my room I see photos, magazines, notebooks, tissues, printer paper, pencils, furniture, books, posters, even the walls that surround me; they are all tree products. That’s not even to mention the rest of the rooms in this apartment. With a world population of approximately seven billion people, it has been estimated that each person then gets only 63 trees in their life. This was determined from a study conducted by the Evergreen State College in Washington State along with NASA. It was possible to determine this figure by utilizing the satellite images NASA has taken throughout the years of tree lines which gave an estimate total of 400,246,300,201 trees total in the world.
In the grand scheme of things 63 trees does not even cover the amount of printer paper that I go through in one semester at university. It takes approximately 24 trees to make one ton of plain, 8.5X11 pack of printing paper and I have already gone through a couple of packs, and this is just for printer paper. On top of this, it is that time of year where the coffee companies lure people in so to warm their hands with a cup of coffee; this cup being made of paper products and to top it off the coffee collar as well. But really, who doesn’t enjoy those red holiday cups? You don’t realize how many trees you are using because society labels each item with a word without any relevance to what it is made out of. All of this and I’m sitting in the library pondering how many trees I am surrounded by.
Although it would be nearly impossible to use less than the allotted amount of 63 trees in a lifetime, there are ways to ensure the products you are using are environmentally friendly. An independent, nonprofit organization called the Forest Stewardship Council or the FSC acts to certify companies and forestry management under a set of requirements which differ by country. An overview includes complying to their environmental impact standards, workers’ rights, indigenous peoples rights, stream-side management, conservation efforts, how to monitor and assess the land, and etc. A strenuous application process ensures that all standards are met so that the land may be labeled as FSC approved. Companies that then sell paper products can choose to partake from FSC approved lands and have their products then stamped with the FSC label. In the United States alone, there are 35,791,092 acres certified under the FSC standards making it easily accessible for companies to utilize sustainable lands.
With the holiday season just around the corner, it will be time to send holiday greeting cards. This year, while purchasing, take a look on the packaging and look for the FSC label so you know that you aren’t only sending a greeting but a sustainable one at that.
by Leah Garner