Choosing paper stock for business stationery, promotional literature or any other printed material is never straight forward. What finish, what colour, bonded, uncoated? How will the colours print? Is it digitally approved? Will it go through a laser printer? Is it cost effective? These are things that as designers we consider on a regular basis and a lot of these questions are broached by clients as well. We very rarely, however, get asked by clients whether a paper stock is re-cycled or indeed ethically sourced.
Does this mean that we shouldn’t consider these factors? Absolutely not. As a designer I believe that this is a very important part of choosing paper stock and it is our duty to ensure that we strive at every opportunity to be ethical in our work. At the very least this means using an FSC accredited paper.
So what is FSC? The Forest Stewardship Council is an international NGO that was founded in 1993 to curb public anxiety about the destruction of the world’s forests. They are dedicated to ensuring that there is sound accountable management across all countries of their precious forestry resource.
Approximately 50% of the world’s timber harvest goes in to the production of paper so it is extremely important that we get our paper choice right. The FSC provides a certification to paper products used throughout business which ensures that the stock comes from forestry resources that are well managed and have no link to any detrimental deforestation. A series of labels are in operation to define different categories to make choice easier.
FSC 100% – All timber/fibre is from an FSC accredited source.
FSC Recycled – All timber/fibre in the paper product is recycled post use.
FSC Mix – The timber / fibre used is a combination from either FSC certified forestry, recycled material or sources that exclude unsuitable forestry.
More information plus a download sheet outlining the varying marks can be found here.
The majority of printers should be able to advise as to which paper stock is accredited.
Of course there will always be questions over whether recycled stock is carbon neutral, the bleaching process etc and maybe I will cover that question in another blog. But for now this is a start and something that we should all consider whether buying print from a designer, a printer or just purchasing stationery from your local shop. Make sure you look out for the FSC mark and don’t be afraid to ask questions.