Today’s OfficeMax action was great fun, a spirited but peaceful protest with a healthy turnout of about 35 activists. I got to don a pair of fuzzy antlers and talk to several customers who appreciated learning that much of the paper sold by the office-supply giant harms indigenous people and old-growth boreal forests in Canada.
But after writing yesterday’s post plugging the protest, I realized that I had a problem: I’m running out of paper and envelopes for my home office, and I don’t know where to replenish them.
I used to go to Office Depot, because you could get a free ream of recycled paper (though it turns out it was only 30 percent recycled) in exchange for turning in a used printer cartridge for recycling. That served me well for a long time, but the deal is no longer offered; now you just get a discount.
What to do?
According to this “report card” published by Forest Ethics and Dogwood Alliance last year, the best option is Staples. It earned a B (beating Office Depot’s C+ and OfficeMax’s D) for offering paper products with an average of 30 percent post-consumer recycled content and for committing to have the majority of its paper products be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) by 2010.
Again, though, only 30 percent recycled content? Surely we can do better than that.
Also, I’d rather avoid big-box stores. But independent office-supply shops are few and far between. San Francisco has one that I know of—family-owned Patrick & Company—but the hours are limited, and the best it offers on the recycled-paper front is... you guessed it, 30 percent.
One of my fellow protesters mentioned New Leaf Paper, an environmentally friendly brand that can be found at Office Depot and FedEx/Kinko’s.
And after poking around online for a while, I found what looks to be a great resource: online retailer the Green Office (which happens to be located in San Francisco). It sells several kinds of 100 percent post-consumer recycled content paper, plus all sorts of other business products (including toner, fax machines, and janitorial and break-room supplies). The company even offers sustainability consulting services.
Especially cool is its system of logos that give shoppers quick visual cues about different sustainability aspects for each product. For example, a cheerful icon featuring a yellow badge tells me that this Strathmore stationery has three third-party certifications behind it: the FSC, Green Seal, and the EPA’s procurement guidelines (the latter isn’t actually a certification system, but I get where Green Office is coming from).