There’s a new anti-paper campaign afoot in Hollywood. Called ScriptationNation, it’s a coalition of misinformed celebs who’ve joined with entertainment technology company Scriptation, the maker of a new digital script app, to get Hollywood to go paperless by 2030. The Hollywood Reporter recently reported on the coalition. Two Sides responded with a letter to the editor.
Letters to the Editor
February 24, 2022
Here we go again – another Hollywood environmental campaign tailor-made to backfire on the real-world environment (Bradly Whitford, Gloria Calderon Kellet Join Pledge to Get Hollywood Paperless by 2030, February 15). When will we mature beyond the superficial “Go Paperless” slogans to recognize the inherent environmental sustainability and recyclability of paper products and the serious environmental consequences of substituting paper with electronic alternatives?
In the real world, going paperless actually endangers North American forests. The inescapable fact is that nearly all U.S. forestlands harvested for paper are privately owned by literally millions of Americans. Many of these landowners would sell those forests to be converted to housing developments, strip malls and parking lots without the critical economic incentive provided by the continuing demand for responsibly sourced paper. In fact, according to the U.S. Forest Service, the primary cause of forest loss in the U.S. is urban sprawl, not papermaking.
Think about what “Go Paperless” really means. It means substituting the natural, renewable medium used to make paper for the scarce, unrenewable materials used to make and use electronics. Paper’s raw material, wood fiber, can be (and is) infinitely grown and regrown in sustainably managed forests, and paper is manufactured using mostly renewable carbon-neutral bioenergy. Carbon intensive electronic media require the invasive mining of the planet’s finite supply of minerals and rare earths, together with the use of fossil fuels to continuously power billions of electronic devices and the massive server farms that support them.
If the entertainment industry is sincerely concerned about sustainability, it can’t do any better than responsibly using and recycling paper products which, with a recycling rate of more than 68%, are the most recycled material in the country, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. And the forests that provide these products are among the most sustainably managed in the world – a reality long recognized by the forestry community, including the forest sustainability bodies that certify forestlands. The proof: The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reports that net forest area in the U.S. grew by some 18 million acres over the past 30 years.
If Scriptation and its customers prefer electronics to paper products, that’s their business. There’s plenty of room in the world for both. But marketing the Scriptation app as a sustainable alternative to paper without quantifiable, scientific proof amounts to potentially deceptive advertising (see the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Guides for Environmental Marketing Claims). On the other hand, paper has a great environmental story to tell, using real world facts and data – not slogans – to back it up.
Kathi Rowzie, President
Two Sides North America
Two Sides North America President Kathi Rowzie and Two Sides Europe Managing Director Jonathan Tame recently talked with German Sacristan, director of on-demand printing and publishing at Keypoint Intelligence, about greenwashing – the use of unsubstantiated and misleading environmental claims by corporations and other entities to encourage consumers to stop using paper – and what Two Sides is doing to eliminate it.
Funded entirely through membership dues, Two Sides is the only industry organization that directly challenges major corporations, the media and other types of organizations that promote common environmental myths, such as going paperless “saves trees,” “protects the environment” and “reduces carbon emissions.” Our global anti-greenwashing campaign has resulted in more than 800 companies, government agencies and other organizations changing or eliminating anti-paper environmental claims.
“In North America alone, the companies that have eliminated bogus environmental claims about paper as a result of Two Sides’ anti-greenwashing campaign collectively represent billions of instances of greenwashing and consumers numbering in the hundreds of millions who are no longer seeing anti-paper environmental messages from their service providers,” Rowzie says.
“But Two Sides did not achieve this alone,” she adds. “We’re all in this together, and the continuing support and engagement of our members is critical to helping end greenwashing and to amplifying the great sustainability story of print, paper and paper-based packaging. Two Sides membership is an investment in the future of our industry, and we invite every company whose business depends on paper to join us.”
CHICAGO – July 20, 2021 – In an attempt to reduce costs, many banks, utilities, telecoms and other service providers are switching consumers from paper to electronic bills and statements, often without their consent, and some are now charging fees to receive paper statements. Others are urging their customers to switch from paper to digital communication because “it’s better for the environment.” But a recent survey commissioned by Two Sides North America and conducted by international research firm Toluna found that consumers want the freedom to choose how they receive important communications from the companies they do business with, and they are wise to cost cutting efforts disguised as concern for the environment.
The Right to Choose
The Two Sides survey showed that 78% of U.S. consumers believe they should have the right to choose how they receive important communications from their service providers, on paper or electronically, and 67% believe they should not be charged more for choosing a paper bill or statement.
While using the internet can be a quick and convenient way to transact business, companies that default customers to electronic communication put at risk many Americans who do not have broadband access or have difficulty using the internet. Particularly at risk are people in rural areas, older people and those living with handicaps or on low incomes. According to a 2021 study by BroadbandNow, some 42 million Americans do not have broadband internet access.
Companies that force consumers to go paperless also face risks of their own. More than four in 10 consumers (41%) said they would consider switching to an alternate provider if their current one forced them to go paperless.
Digital Communication is Not Always Preferred
The survey showed that 64% of consumers are increasingly concerned that their personal information held electronically is at risk of being hacked, stolen, lost or damaged. Those over age 65 are most concerned (70%), but more than half of 18- to 24-year-olds (52%) have the same worry.
While internet use is practical and convenient for many, electronic communication also comes with undeniable challenges, including issues associated with overuse. The survey revealed that American consumers believe that “switching off” is more important than ever, with more than half (52%) saying they spend too much time on digital devices. The same percentage is concerned that the overuse of electronic devices could be damaging to their health, causing issues such as eye strain, headaches and sleep deprivation.
It’s also important to note that switching from paper to electronic delivery of bills and statements is not really “paperless,” since 64% of consumers say they regularly print out copies of such documents. 53% find paper bills and statements better than electronic bills and statements for recordkeeping.
Which is Better, Print on Paper or Digital Communication?
“The simple answer is that both have important uses and benefits that consumers value,” says Two Sides North America President Kathi Rowzie. “The question should not be which one is better, but which is best suited for each individual’s needs. It’s vitally important that all consumers have the right to choose how they receive important communications from their service providers – free of charge – to assure that those who are unwilling or unable to access the internet are not disadvantaged.”
The Facts About Greenwashing
It has become commonplace for companies to encourage their customers to switch from paper to electronic bills and statements with claims that going paperless is “green” or “helps the environment.” These types of broad, unsubstantiated environmental claims, known as greenwashing, are not only misleading, but also are unacceptable under established environmental marketing standards such as the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Green Guides and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14021 standard.
“Statements like ‘Go Green, Go Paperless’ are not backed by sound science and fail to recognize the vast and growing negative environmental impacts of electronic communication,” Rowzie says. “These misleading claims may also damage consumers’ perceptions of paper and put at risk the livelihoods of more than 7 million people in the U.S. print, paper and mail sector.”
However, not all U.S. consumers are fooled by corporate greenwashing claims, and the use of such claims may distract from a company’s legitimate environmental initiatives and damage their corporate reputations. The survey showed that nearly six in 10 (57%) consumers said that when a service provider wants to switch them from paper to electronic communication saying it’s “better for the environment,” they know the company is really just trying to cut costs.
Two Sides continues to actively challenge major companies and other large organizations that make misleading environmental claims about paper products. For more information about the Two Sides Anti-Greenwashing Campaign, visit www.twosidesna.org/anti-greenwash-campaign/.
About Two Sides North America, Inc.
Two Sides North America (www.twosidesna.org) is an independent, non-profit organization that promotes the sustainability of print, paper and paper-based packaging, and dispels common environmental misconceptions about paper products. We are part of the Two Sides global network which operates across North America, South America, Europe, Australia and South Africa.
About the survey
The survey queried a representative sample of 1,000 adults aged 18 and older across the United States.
Kathi Rowzie, President
Two Sides North America, Inc.
The Book Manufacturers Institute (BMI) recently commissioned well-known pollster Frank Luntz to find out how parents view the effectiveness of various learning materials, including books, textbooks and workbooks. The most definitive conclusion was that virtually every parent wants physical materials as part of student learning. 85% of parents want physical books in some form, and 88% think they are important and essential learning tools.
In summarizing the study results, Luntz said, “With parents keenly aware of the shortcomings of online learning thanks to the pandemic, this finding is only surprising in its intensity and uniformity. Every demographic and geographic subgroup agrees: printed materials are essential to student learning.”
In the survey of 1,000 parents of K-12 school children across America, the results could not be more conclusive. Parents are deeply focused on what their children learn and, just as important, how they learn it: by a 69% to 31% margin, parents chose physical over online materials when given the option.
In every possible measurement, parents believe physical books will outperform online. From testing results to successful learning, from knowledge retention to focusing on the subject, parents simply believe the physical book is the superior teaching tool.
The survey showed that frustrations with online learning during COVID are real. More than 80% of parents from all backgrounds (including 74% of those who typically favor online materials) believe printed materials would have made their jobs helping their students learn from home easier.
“Parents are more engaged with their children’s education, and they want the help only physical books, textbooks and workbooks can provide,” Luntz said.
Parents cited distractions that students encounter with online materials, such as the ease of surfing the internet during instruction, as the No. 1 concern in moving away from physical printed materials. It’s why parents believe their kids will comprehend better using physical books and why over 70% of parents would prefer their kids hold a book rather than a tablet.
In addition to commissioning the national poll, BMI asked Dr. Naomi Baron, Professor Emerita of Linguistics at American University, to write a whitepaper that summarizes the scientific research around reading print versus digital and how each impacts learning. Dr. Baron explains, “An abundance of research now substantiates that yes, medium matters for learning. While both print and digital have roles to play, the evidence demonstrates the continuing importance of print for sustained, mindful reading, which is critical to the educational process.”
For complete survey results, visit the BMI website.
With pandemic lockdowns as a backdrop, banks, utilities, telecoms and other large service providers boosted their efforts to switch customers from paper to electronic communication over the last 15 months, and with those efforts came a new wave of misleading environmental claims about paper – greenwashing.
The Two Sides Anti-Greenwashing Campaign mobilized to push back against this tide of new claims in January after a 10-month pandemic-related interruption, and wins have been steadily increasing. Thanks to this renewed effort, 14 companies have changed or removed misleading environmental claims related to print and paper so far this year, including large banks, utilities and notably, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, whose communications reach 44 million Americans or 15% of the U.S. population. This is in addition to seven wins in 2020 on greenwashing cases that were already in progress.
“We know that consumers are increasingly aware of the impact their choices have on the environment, and that environmental claims made by companies they trust can influence their decision making,” says Two Sides North America President Kathi Rowzie. “But those claims often are not based in fact. Many companies continue to encourage consumers to switch from paper to electronic communications using unsubstantiated claims that digital communication is green, saves trees and is better for the environment, and this activity has increased significantly during the pandemic.
“These are clear cases of greenwashing that damage consumer perceptions of paper and put at risk the livelihoods of more than 7 million people in the North American print, paper and mail sector,” Rowzie adds. “That’s why Two Sides Anti-Greenwashing Campaign is needed now more than ever.”
The campaign has achieved a total of 148 wins in the U.S. and Canada (more than 700 globally) since its inception in 2012, bringing the North American success rate to 68%.
The goal of the Anti-Greenwashing Campaign is to directly engage and encourage major North American corporations to adopt best practices for environmental marketing established by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Competition Bureau of Canada (CBC), and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 14021). These standards are quite detailed, but in a nutshell they say that environmental marketing claims should be accurate, substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence and should not suggest environmental benefits by using broad, vague terms like “green” and “environmentally friendly.”
“One of the distinguishing features of the Two Sides Anti-Greenwashing Campaign is that we don’t push a ‘pixels versus paper’ scenario but instead recognize that both print and electronic communications have attractive benefits and environmental consequences,” Rowzie explains. “It’s a straightforward approach that simply says, ‘Hey Corporate CEO, your company is making unsubstantiated marketing claims about the environmental attributes of print and paper. Here are the facts. We encourage you to follow best practices for environmental marketing from the FTC, CBC and others, and put an end to your misleading claims.’”
Not only are greenwashing claims unacceptable under established environmental marketing standards, but they can also harm the companies making them. “Greenwashing distracts from a company’s legitimate environmental initiatives and can damage corporate reputations when misleading claims are exposed,” Rowzie explains. “And some consumers are skeptical that a commitment to environmental improvement is the underlying motive for companies’ push to go paperless. In a recent Two Sides survey, just over half of consumers said that when a company encourages them to switch from paper to digital communication because “it’s better for the environment,” they know the real reason is that the company is trying to cut costs.”
To promote greater understanding of what greenwashing is and why it should be avoided, Two Sides has published a new four-page fact sheet titled “Go Green, Go Paperless” Messages are Misleading: The Facts About Greenwashing.
“We use this fact sheet when we contact companies about their paper greenwashing claims, but it’s a great tool that anyone can download and share with employees, customers, investors and other stakeholders,” Rowzie explains. “It’s an effective tool to help explain what greenwashing is, the harm it causes and why paper is an inherently sustainable choice that contributes to a circular economy.”
If you see a greenwashing claim from one of your service provides – on a bill, statement, envelope, website or email – send a screenshot, scan or link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more facts about the sustainability of print, paper and paper-based packaging, click here.
Since 2010, the Two Sides campaign has successfully influenced the change or removal of misleading environmental claims by more than 700 organizations globally and more than 130 in North America, including many of the world’s largest corporations.
CHICAGO – February 2, 2021 – With huge pressures on the economy, banks, telecom providers, utility companies and even governmental organizations are increasingly focused on switching their customers from paper to digital services to cut costs. All too often their customer communications attempt to mask these cost-saving efforts, justifying the switch with unfounded environmental marketing appeals such as “Go Green – Go Paperless” and “Choose e-billing and help save a tree.”
“Not only are these greenwash claims in breach of established environmental marketing rules, but they are hugely damaging to an industry which has a solid and continually improving environmental record,” says Two Sides North America (TSNA) President Phil Riebel. “Far from ‘saving trees,’ a healthy market for forest products such as paper encourages the long-term growth of forests through sustainable forest management. Many of the organizations we engage are surprised to learn that over the last 30 years, U.S. forests have grown by some 18 million acres while net forest area in Canada has remained about the same.”
Globally in 2020, Two Sides engaged 320 organizations making misleading statements about paper. So far, 134 of them have removed such statements from their communications and Two Sides continues to engage the remaining organizations. The organizations were throughout North and South America, Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. This brings the total to 710 companies that have removed misleading greenwashing statements since the campaign began in 2010.
In early 2020, the board of directors of TSNA made the difficult decision to suspend the Anti-greenwash Campaign in the United States and Canada in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges posed by lockdowns across both countries. While no additional organizations were engaged from March through October, TSNA continued its efforts with organizations previously contacted, resulting in a number of additional wins and an overall success rate of 65% since the beginning of the campaign, which resumed in November.
“Greenwashing is a serious issue for our industry, and we have seen a worrying increase driven by current economic pressures” Riebel says. “Because of the huge reach of some of these greenwashing organizations, their unsubstantiated claims have a damaging effect on consumer perceptions of paper and threaten a sector which employs 7.6 million people across the United States and Canada. This is why the Anti-greenwash Campaign continues to be a priority for Two Sides. We will continue to urge companies to reject the use of unsubstantiated and misleading environmental claims about going paperless in all of their communications.
“We are grateful for the cooperation of the hundreds of organizations that have changed or eliminated greenwashing claims from their messaging, and we are also thankful for the many industry stakeholders and members of the public who send Two Sides examples of greenwash,” Riebel concludes.
For more information about the anti-greenwash campaign or to learn more about Two Sides, please contact us at email@example.com
About Two Sides
Two Sides is a not-for-profit, global initiative promoting the unique sustainable and attractive attributes of print, paper and paper packaging. Two Sides’ members span the entire print, paper and paper packaging value chain including: forestry, pulp, paper, packaging, inks and chemicals, finishing, publishing, printing, envelopes and postal operators.
All too often we see email footers with negative and misleading messages about the environmental impacts of print and paper. Messages like “Think before you print – Our forests will thank you” and “Please consider the environment before printing this email” imply that electronic communication always has a lower environmental impact than printed materials.
But this conclusion is not supported by credible and reliable scientific evidence. Such claims not only fail to consider the growing environmental footprint of our electronic infrastructure, but also ignore the unique sustainable features of print and paper.
Paper is made from a natural, renewable resource (wood from trees grown in sustainably managed forests) and is one of the most recycled commodities in the world. Nearly two-thirds of the energy used to produce paper in North America comes from renewable, carbon-neutral biomass. When produced and used responsibly, print on paper is an environmentally sustainable way to communicate.
So, if you need a more convenient or permanent copy of your emails, don’t feel guilty about printing them! But be sure to recycle those you don’t need as a permanent record.
If you’d like to share the great sustainability story of print and paper in your email footer, here are a few alternatives to consider:
• Responsibly produced paper has unique sustainable features. It comes from a renewable resource and is highly recyclable. If you print, please recycle.
• The demand for sustainably produced paper supports sustainable forest management in North America. The income landowners receive for trees grown on their land encourages them to sustainably manage, renew and maintain this valuable resource.
• Paper is one of the most recycled products in the world and is made from trees grown in sustainably managed North American forests – a natural and renewable resource.
• Paper is based on a natural and renewable raw material – trees. Sustainably managed North American forests are good for the environment, providing clean air and water, wildlife habitat and carbon storage.
• Print on paper is a practical, attractive, and sustainable communications medium. If you print, please recycle.
You can find more great email footers to promote the sustainability of print and paper here. We’ve also created an Information Sheet on Alternative Email Footers that you can download and share with your colleagues, customers and other stakeholders.
For more information and supporting facts related to our suggested email footers, be sure to check out our Two Sides Fact Sheets.
Two Sides, a global non-profit promoting the sustainability of print and paper, continues to address misleading environmental claims made by some of the world’s largest corporations.
CHICAGO, IL – July 9, 2019. Environmental claims such as “go green – go paperless” and “save trees” are regularly used by banks, telecoms, utilities, insurance companies and many other service providers, as they encourage their customers to switch from paper to lower cost electronic bills and statements. However, a Two Sides global anti-greenwash campaign operating since 2010 has found that the majority of these claims are unsubstantiated and misleading.
To date, Two Sides has successfully engaged with 441 companies worldwide to remove or change such claims about print and paper. Sectors showing the highest occurrence of greenwashing include telecom providers, banks and financial institutions, utility providers and governmental organizations.
In North America, 120 companies, including many of the Fortune 500, have changed or removed their environmental claims following discussions with Two Sides. “Environmental claims in the U.S. and Canada must meet the guidelines and rules of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission¹ and the Competition Bureau of Canada² which include having credible and specific science-based facts to support claims. Unfortunately, we have found that these requirements are rarely met and corporations use ‘go green’ claims purely for marketing and enticing more customers to digital options. Companies are also ignoring the growing environmental footprint of their electronic infra-structure, including the use of non-renewable resources, energy and the large amounts of e-waste generated,” says Phil Riebel, President, Two Sides North America.
Martyn Eustace, Chairman of Two Sides Europe/UK, said: “We are really pleased that our ongoing effort is having such a significant effect on some of the world’s largest and most influential companies and organizations. However, our latest research shows that misleading environmental messages are having an impact on consumer perceptions of print and paper – particularly regarding the impact on forests. This is why it is so vital for Two Sides to continue working with organizations to remove greenwashing claims and educate them about the unique sustainable aspects of print and paper. Paper comes from a renewable resource and is one of the most recycled materials in the world. When responsibly produced and used, it can be a sustainable way to communicate.”
The drive to digital is not welcome by many consumers
Recent research commissioned by Two Sides has shown that consumers feel strongly about their choice to receive paper bills and statements from service providers. In fact, efforts by major corporations to force their customers to go digital, often citing environmental benefits, are not welcome by many consumers.
An international survey of 2,094 consumers in the U.S.³ and 1,044 consumers in Canada4 commissioned by Two Sides in February 2019 found:
¹ US Federal Trade Commission, 2013. Green Guides.
² Competition Bureau of Canada and Canadian Standards Association. 2008. Environmental Claims: A Guide for Industry and Advertisers.
Two Sides’ efforts to combat misleading claims related to print and paper has resulted in over 400 companies worldwide, including 118 in North America, removing unsubstantiated ‘green’ claims in their marketing materials.
Despite our repeated efforts to contact TIAA and BlackRock, they continue to ignore consumer preferences and fact-based research to make unsupported environmental claims in their literature and mailings.
Common consumer misconceptions about print and paper are reinforced by service providers as they increasingly encourage their customers to switch to electronic bills, statements, and correspondence to reduce costs. The incentive to switch is often based on unfounded environmental claims such as ‘Go Green – Go Paperless’ and ‘Choose e-billing and help save a tree.’
Not only are these claims misleading, but the drive to digital is not without environmental impacts and not welcomed by many consumers. If TIAA and BlackRock are serious about their environmental and sustainability efforts, they need to review the U.S. FTC Green Guides which gives marketers a thorough overview of how to preserve their company’s public image when it comes to avoiding “greenwashing” claims and meet the requirements to be “truthful, clear and substantiated.”
Here are some facts and key links to consider about paper and the switch to electronic or digital-only options:
Two Sides continues to provide fact-based information about paper and printing to encourage companies like TIAA and BlackRock to send the right message about sustainability. If you are a TIAA or BlackRock customer, please consider sending them a letter to encourage them to join the hundreds of other companies who have changed their message about paper and printing.
You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a ready-made template to use. All you need to do is sign and mail it.
To join us, please visit the Two Sides Membership page, contact us by email at email@example.com or by phone at 855-896-7433. You can also connect with us online at www.twosidesna.org and through social media on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Last month, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette shared a sticker with their subscribers that stated: “In honor of Earth Day, the Post-Gazette will not print on Monday, April 22.” This claim prompted Leeann Foster, Assistant to the International President of the United Steelworkers, to write a letter to the newspaper, addressing the greenwashing claim that digital-only news is more environmentally friendly. She shared, “It simply is not black and white to say that digital communication is green and paper is not. In 2016, for example, 44.7 million metric tons of e-waste was generated globally…Paper, however, is a highly and easily recyclable product that is used again and again to make more paper and boxes.” Supporting her letter with facts, Ms. Foster provided a link to our popular Two Sides Myths and Facts page. Her full letter was posted on the USW Paperworkers Facebook Page and was shared, commented on, and liked by the community.