News+Politics May 3, 2012
PAPER CUTS: Are North Americans Able To See The Forest For The Trees?

Does less paper mean more forests? A new partnership between TD and the Nature Conservancy of Canada suggests it may be possible.

The average North American consumes more than 200 kilograms of paper every year, five times more than people in the rest of the world. According to The State of the Paper Industry 2011 report by the Environmental Paper Network, Canada and the U.S. combined to consume nearly 80 million tons of paper in 2009.

The good news? That marks a 24% decline in North American paper consumption over the previous three years. Paper remains an essential and valuable commodity in today's world, but by reducing our use of it we are better able to protect the forests that provide it. Junk mail in the U.S. alone accounts for the felling of some 100 million trees every year. That's important, because forests store close to 50% of the world's carbon, removing pollution that would otherwise enter into the atmosphere. With half of the world's forests already cleared, we definitely need to start protecting the rest.

Forests, both rural and urban, are a critical habitat for many species of wildlife, and TD is working to put more of them under protection. They have partnered with the Nature Conservancy of Canada in a project aimed at protecting two football fields' worth of forest every day. (TD itself has claimed it will reduce its own paper consumption by at least 20% by the year 2015.) Every year, TD plans to track its paper use, calculate the equivalent area of forest, and then help the Nature Conservancy of Canada protect the corresponding amount of forest habitat.

If you want to get a sense of what that means, check out the video they've posted at the TD YouTube page, in which multiple players show different views of the same forest - you can walk through the woods and experience all the sights and sounds of a preserved woodland.

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