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[Images courtesy of Favini]

Us in creative production would often be accused of being the culprit for wasteful packaging and excessive marketing collaterals. One of the commonly adopted strategies by brands is to be FSCcompliant in their creative production. In brand marketing, being FSC certified means that the entire chain of custody for the creative production process for a particular project is mapped to the original source materials coming from responsibly managed forests.

Go Green, Go Beyond FSC

As with many certification and accreditation programs, FSC serves an important function of setting and promoting best global industry-recognized standards. However, these are costly to administer, sometimes being criticized as not suitable for small businesses, and even anti-competitive and therefore in the wider view, counter-ecological.

Independent and even personal brands who are genuinely concerned about their environmental impact rather than compliance are therefore drawn to alternatives. Why use paper made from virgin wood pulp when there are many options that do not involve cutting a tree (or cutting many fewer trees) in the first place?

10 paper options that don’t kill trees

1. Stone: Made primarily from calcium carbonate, one of the most common materials on Earth, stone paper is water resistant, tear resistant and insect resistant. Calcium carbonate can be easily collected at existing limestone quarries. Even better, stone papers do not need bleach to achieve the bright white color.

2. Pasta: Have you ever seen Barilla pasta? Guess what – they are now in paper! Crush paper composes of organic ingredients such as waste by-product of pasta production and post consumer products. The paper is also high in quality, suitable for luxurious packaging and artistic endeavors.

3. Algae: In 1980s, a Venetian lagoon was clogged up with algae that deoxidized the water and threatened its ecosystem. The algae were difficult to dispose of and the governor turned to a paper manufacturer for help. The result is a high-grade paper containing up to 30% of seaweed. Interestingly, the paper turns whiter over time due to the chlorophyll in algae.

4. Poo Poo: All animals excrete smelly poo poo. And the papermakers take the stench away to produce high quality paper for office and for artists. Excrements of elephants, cows, horses, donkeys, moose, pandas, and humans can be turned into green – or brown, if you prefer – paper that is as good as any other. Even better, much of the proceeds of these projects are channeled to protect the wildlife of these endangered poopers.

5. Cotton: Wash it, stretch it, fold it, and iron it. The cotton paper will survive. Cotton paper has traditionally been associated with luxury, thanks to its softness to the touch, its durability and strength, often maintaining color and print for decades if not centuries. Perfect for letterpress use.

6. Sugarcane: The sugarcane fiber (also known as bagasse) is a byproduct of sugar production often burnt for disposal. This agricultural waste can be turned into paper in a mix with post-consumer paper or bamboo fibers.

7. Wheat: The same goes with wheat. After harvesting wheat for your bread, what’s left is a field-full of wheat straws. The stems can be turned into smooth papers that will print without a jam in your copy machine.

8. Bamboo: One of the fastest growing plants, bamboo thrives in harsh conditions few others can: nutrient depleted soil, mountainous hillsides, you name it. Bamboos are also high in fiber content and its long fibers can produce quality paper.

9. Hemp: The fibers from hemp can be used in a wide range of products including cloth, fuel and paper. Their papers are very durable and are often mixed with other sustainable sources for smooth surface.

10. Reusable paper: The epitome of modern technology - a thin plastic sheet covered in liquid-crystal layer that defies the traditional understanding of what ‘paper’ is and yet bearing most of its important qualities. With a thermal device, you can print color images without any ink. The image has a short life span – a few days – but can replace short-lived items like advertising banners, tickets and visitor ID badges. Most importantly, the material can be reused as many as 260 times.

Sustainable sourcing starts from the source material

These alternative papers are just as available in the market as wood paper. Having seen a rise in market demand, Innovators of alternative papers, like organic farmers, are increasingly investing into large-scale production.

So next time you think green, think out of the box and go tree-free, the ultimate green option. You will be supporting not only the environment, but also rewarding innovators, encouraging creativity and supporting a more diverse business environment.

About the authors: Bonnie Chan Woo is the CEO of Icicle Group Jee Soo Lee is the CSR Intern (2014-2015) of Icicle Group


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