Time for Some Schooling around Paper, Kids, and the Environment

Parents and kids prefer paper for learning; that much is clear when you look at the results of this year’s Paper and Productivity Learning report, based on the answers of more than 3,000 parents of school-aged children in Canada and the U.S.

Despite technology’s prominence in the 21st century, when it comes to education and productivity, students and parents still prefer paper,” notes this article in How Life Unfolds.

Image source: How Life Unfolds

“The clear majority of students and parents feel that paper is essential to learning. 93 percent of college students and 87 percent of 7-12th grade students agree that paper is an essential part of being able to achieve their educational goals,” the article continues.

This preference, however, seems to bump right up into environmental consciousness, with parents sometimes confused about the sustainability of paper overall.

“It is clear from the survey that consumers are concerned about the environment, but there are some obvious gaps between consumer environmental perceptions and the real facts,” explains this article from Two Sides NA. “This is particularly evident for questions related to forest management and recycling.”

The survey results found:

  • 58% of U.S. consumers surveyed believe U.S. forests have been decreasing in size since the year 2000.  That’s not true, by a long shot. U.S. forests are thriving, with a net growth of over 1,500 NFL football fields per day since 2000.
  • Only 15% of Americans and 21% of Canadians think the paper recovery rate exceeds 60%. It’s actually 68% in the U.S and 70% in Canada. (While paper is the most heavily recycled material on the planet, there is a scientific reason why 100% paper recycling is not attainable.)
  • 70% of the respondents believe it’s important to use paper products from sustainably managed forests; yet only around 1 in 4 pays attention to sustainability certifications when buying paper.

Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

We know what we like, but if we buy into the myth that paper is worse for the environment than digital communications, the environment and our kids lose.

The facts are choosing paper is a highly sustainable form of communication, and it’s especially helpful when kids (of any age) are engaged in school learning. Not only that, but the more electronic devices a kid has access to, the less they read.

“It is great to see that print as a communications medium is still preferred by many consumers.  Clearly, people also recognize the sustainable features of paper when compared to many other products, especially electronics and plastic,” states Phil Riebel, President of Two Sides North America. “However, there is a need to educate consumers on sustainable forestry practices, the real causes of deforestation and the great recycling story of print and paper.”

Corporate greenwashing has been debunked; it’s time to do a little myth-busting at school, too.