George Lucas Educational Foundation
Professional Learning

Green Products Guide: Paper

Tap into these tips for finding environmentally friendly materials.

October 28, 2009

When it comes to paper, start by brainstorming about how to use less of it. Ways to conserve can be as simple as sending an email instead of a fax or printing documents single-spaced on both sides of paper. Conserving on copier paper is a particularly green-savvy move, since this is the lion's share of the paper schools buy.

The Green Squad, a joint effort from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Healthy Schools Network, suggests easy ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle paper. To remind yourself why this is important, check out a nifty paper calculator. It estimates how many trees are cut down to create different kinds and quantities of paper.

How to Choose:

Choosing eco-friendly paper involves being able to interpret the shorthand of several labels. Select paper with at least 30 percent postconsumer waste content. If you can afford 100 percent PCW, all the better. Look for the PCF (processed chlorine free) label when buying recycled paper.

With virgin paper, look for TCF (totally chlorine free) -- most paper requires bleaching, a process that can produce harmful dioxins and chemicals. Seek out FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification for content that isn't PCW. This label means wood has been harvested in a responsible way.

Make sure to buy in bulk. In fact, buy a truckload at a time when it comes to multipurpose copier paper. School purchasers advise putting out a bid and going with the lowest price, as long as the paper is at least 30 percent PCW.

Product Picks:

  • Envirotech Subject Notebook, manufactured by AMPAD. This 100-sheet notebook is 100 percent PCW and is chlorine free.
  • Boise ASPEN, 30 Percent PCW Paper.
  • Domtar Recycled Copy Paper, 30 percent PCW, chlorine free.
  • HP Office Recycled Paper, 30 percent PCW.
  • Mead by Gilbert Recycled Environmental Premium Multipurpose Paper, 100 percent PCW.
  • Little DAna Lemon Paper Journal, manufactured by EcoPaper. This 80-page notebook is made of 100 percent PCW.
  • Marble Cover Wide Rule Composition Book, manufactured by Roaring Spring Paper Products. Made of 100 percent recycled materials, 30 percent PCW.
  • Stitched Composition Book (wide rule, 40 pages), manufactured by Roaring Springs Paper Products. Made of 100 percent recycled materials; 30 percent PCW.
  • Multi-Subject Pocket Notebook (120 sheets), manufactured by AMPAD. Made of 50 percent recycled materials; 30 percent PCW.


EcoLogo, Green Seal, Forest Stewardship Council for non-PCW content. FSC guarantees it's made of wood harvested from a certified well-managed forest.

Evantheia Schibsted is a freelance writer whose work appears regularly in Edutopia.

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