How to Identify Better Paper

woman walking in trees
Unsplash: Samilla Maioli

Back to the Vote With Your Dollar Toolkit

Everyone has the power to reduce pressure placed on forests worldwide. By choosing recycled paper, you are voting with your dollars for a cleaner and healthier planet. You can look for environmentally responsible magazines and only buy recycled and FSC-certified paper for your homes and offices.

1.Recycled Content

Like many people, you might see “Recycled” on a product and assume that it’s a high quality recycled product, unfortunately most countries do not have strict rules for how much recycled content a product needs to put “recycled” on their label. This can vary anywhere between 5% all the way to 100%. Look for any indication of the percentage of recycled content on the product package, the higher the better!

2. Next Step

Post-consumer content: This means that the product has used material that was previously consumed as a product – like a newspaper or box. We consider this to be the better choice of the two, since it has completed an entire life cycle of consumption before making its way to you! 

Pre-consumer content: This means the product was made from waste produced by some type of manufacturing process. Some products are a mix of these two types of content, just make sure to check the label or review the product online.

Better Paper Pro-tip: Make sure to not be fooled by just the term ‘recyclable’. This just means that the product can be recycled, but doesn’t signal any recycled content in the product. It's better to look for actual recycled content.

3. Certification

There are a few different certifications to look for when buying a paper product. We advise on seeking out the FSC seal (Forest Stewardship Council). The FSC certified forestry products that use sustainably-harvested wood fibers. If the product you are buying has virgin (non-recycled) fibers in it, make sure it is FSC certified.

4. Bleaching

Most paper requires bleaching, and chlorine bleaching creates very toxic chemicals and is bad for the environment. Find paper that is PCF (processed chlorine free) for recycled paper or is labeled TCF (totally chlorine free) for virgin fiber products.


Back to the Vote With Your Dollar Toolkit