I don’t know if you’re like me…I love holding and reading a good paperback book, and then passing it on to a friend.

All of us probably appreciate other high value uses of paper too, for art, education, sanitation and more. But having walked through enough landscapes around the world ravaged by the reckless elements of industrial forestry, which is partly driven by society’s ever-increasing demand for cheap paper, I feel horrified to see all the wasted resources, and formerly complex ecosystems, ending up as junk mail, fast-food containers, and over-packaging, that just gets trashed. I know I’m not alone. Around the world people are speaking up for change and accountability, and pioneers are innovating a viable new path.

Especially residing in the United States, where we gluttonously consume 4x the global average per capita, all around us is wasteful paper consumption is that high-volume with low-value, and used incredibly briefly. This wastefulness is just not sustainable, or equitable, for our global society, and change is coming.

The Environmental Paper Network researches the pressure this puts on climate, forests and communities around the world, and mobilizes the conservation and land rights community to advocate for solutions.

The truth is, while trees are renewable, producing paper and packaging consumes tremendous amounts of energy, water, chemicals and wood, and has impacts on land use, air quality, water quality and the climate. Even with fairly high rates of recycling in the U.S., there is so much consumption that more than 18 million tons of paper waste still go to the landfill, according to the US EPA’s most recent statistics.  And while paper products can be sourced and made in more environmentally responsible ways, (see a database of products that are environmental leaders here) most paper is still not made from either recycled content or from fiber certified to a credible forestry standard. 

The truth is that paper use is rising globally, and production is expanding to meet that demand. The Environmental Paper Network is tracking this growth and we have produced a map with current data that shows where. We are working with organizations and communities around the world, and on our blog, you can find stories from Indonesia to Uruguay to Canada that illustrate the impacts, risks and opportunities for public health and the global environment from this current industry expansion. 

The truth is that we can do better; did you know e-commerce, which is rapidly growing, is using 7x the cardboard as traditional retail per dollar of sales. Or did you know that we use 265 BILLION throwaway paper cups each year? There are opportunities everywhere to reduce wasteful use, and innovative, next generation solutions to wasteful products that are coming online and are critical components of an urgent response to climate change from corporations and governments. 

The truth is that collectively we have the power to change public policy and corporate behavior and help usher in the next generation solutions that reduce both single-use paper AND plastic, and responsibly source everything we can’t eliminate.

Environmental Paper Network teamed up with artist Kyle Platts to create an offbeat and lighthearted animation to highlight this call to action, and a new project called #UnwrapTheTruth to give people actions–individual and collective–to do something about the climate emergency by reducing wasteful, high-volume, low-value paper use, and accelerating the adoption of solutions.

As Kyle Platts stated in an interview with the Creative Review, “We were really aware at the start how finger-wagging this kind of thing can be,” Kyle Platts told CR. “The brief was to try and interpret this call to action in a more humorous, and accessible way” 

Check out Kyle’s animation below, then go make your pledge and find ways to take action at www.UnwrapTheTruth.org.

Let us know what you or your non-profit or your company are doing to be leaders and make a difference, so we can share your true story, and encourage and inspire others.