When you buy any kind of paper, you might see logos of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Rainforest Alliance. When we see these leading environmental groups on paper products, we’re going to feel somewhat guilt-free and safe because not only that we get reliable, quality products, we also help conserve the environment as well as workers and their families.
How so? Products with these logo are produced by companies that source responsibly. And when we want these products, suppliers get motivated to keep forests lush. If forests don’t give economic benefit to tree farmers and landowners, they’re going to sell it for agricultural use or sell it to developers.
“In our paper business, we have invested in FSC certification. That FSC logo is a signal to consumers that we’ve responsibly sourced the pulp that goes into making these products. An FSC certification is well worth the investment we make because it helps the landowners manage their forests in a way that is good for the environment and also good for business,” said Nalini Bates, the head of P&G Supplier Citizenship Program, a company that works with environmental groups.
Of course we want forests intact since it absorbs carbon and we need that to happen more because our mother earth has a lot of carbon right now. And that’s where FSC and Rainforest Alliance have major roles. They’re the ones that determine if paper products have active and positing step to help the environment and people who rely on forests to live.
Saving and protecting natural environment are not only these environmental groups’ concerns. They also strife to constantly address the social and economic needs of the forest communities and people working in this industry, protect endangered species, safeguard indigenous people’s rights, see to the low-level use of chemicals, and maintain logging restrictions.
Companies that work together with environmental groups have programs to develop and advance forests all over the world. They also play roles to teach business practices that won’t only help economy, but also encourage healthy forest environment.
So as you can see, those logos you see on paper products are not just mere embellishments. But the presence of these logos doesn’t make it okay to waste paper products too loosely. We really don’t want the source of our products to vanish because of our own wrongdoings, right?
While we don’t mind the environmental group labels on our products, some things with labels like organic, fair trade, and ethical might also raise the question. “do they really help the environment?”
There is a claim that organic farming uses natural but still toxic pesticides such as copper sulfate and neem oil albeit prohibiting man-made pesticides. Those two natural pesticides do kill harmful insects, but they kill the good, beneficial one too.
If not done right, some organic practices like fertilizing with manure have led to contamination with dangerous fungal toxins, salmonella, or E.coli. Of course, if organic produce contaminated with these enters your body, you could have serious intestinal illness, kidney failure, or brain damage.
Additionally, studies by Stanford University and other researchers have found that organic fruits and vegetables actually have lower yields and are no more nutritious than the conventional ones.
Organic agriculture might also prevent sustainability. Transporting organic produce contributes to more carbon footprint, even though the seller doesn’t use plastic to pack it.
When it’s rare, organic products are also more expensive than the conventional ones, and people who are on a tight budget will most likely choose the latter.
Those products might end up rotting, and even though it’s sold on cheaper price, the quality won’t be as good, which could place buyers at a disadvantage.
Also, conventional agriculture allows farmers produce more food, especially if it’s GE (genetically engineered) crops. There are seven billion people globally who need to eat, and conventional farming provides them that.
Is fair trade eco friendly?
Slate contributor Tim Harford said that fair-trade farmers might not get much benefit from higher price we pay. Even if they did have higher wages, the farmers could overproduce as a result of the high salary.
Similar to organic produce, fair trade products are quite rare and you can’t find them anywhere. So, you buy them from another country or from somewhere far. The shipping and transporting your product have an impact, especially if they’re shipped by air or land transportation (sea shipping is not that bad, apparently).
We’re all different human beings with different values, paradigm, and priorities. Sometimes we’ve gotta prioritize one thing more than the others. If you care about poverty or global economy and climate change, you can’t get it all at the same time.
In the meantime, what you can do is not buy stuff which are from somewhere far away that doesn’t ship through sea, reduce your carbon footprint by walking a lot, buy from the local market, and cut your meat intake. That way, you’ll help the economy as well as helping the environment.
All in all, products with special logos do help the environment but it depends on where you live, how you use it, and how often you use it.
What’s your take?