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Archive for August, 2012

When we launched Two Sides U.S. earlier this year we made a commitment to provide top service to our members.  As part of this commitment we decided to prepare and distribute an annual Member Satisfaction Survey.  Although we have only been operating officially for about 7 months, we issued our first survey in June this year.

The survey was sent to 590 participants in our various U.S. member companies and allied organizations.  A total of 86 participants responded, which is almost a 15% response rate.  This is a good start.

Here is a summary of the results based on the questions we asked:

  • How do you rate the value that Two Sides brings to your company?  94% answered good to very good
  • Do you agree with the Myths and Facts message? 97% answered yes to very much
  • How often do you use the Two Sides website? 63% answered “occasionally”, 27% often, 6% regularly
  • How easy is it to navigate the website? 25% answered “somewhat”, 73% easy to very easy

When we asked participants to rank upcoming initiatives in order of importance:

  •  56% said the upcoming ad campaign was very important and 36% said somewhat important
  • 77% said the ongoing environmental claims campaign (engaging with companies making anti-paper and print claims) was very important and 16% said somewhat important.

For the full survey report, go to our Member Page.

Our very simple conclusion is: we are on the right track!

Our plan is now to continue doing what has worked well, such as member services and messaging (face-to-face meetings, webinars, etc…), keep on updating our Myths & Facts, our detailed fact sheets & web resources, and carry-on with our environmental claims campaign and our new ad campaign.

There are always opportunities for improvement.  For example, we plan to get better at spreading the word via social media.  So you can expect more tweets, blogs and discussions in the coming year.  We will gradually make the website easier to navigate , and we will be introducing a new user-friendly consumer website to support our ad campaign.  Stay tuned.

So once again…thanks for your feedback!

Phil Riebel

President and COO

Two Sides U.S., Inc.

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Knowing that sustainability issues are my bread and butter, my teenaged niece recently chastised me for reading a printed magazine saying that I would save trees if I switched to an electronic tablet.  While I enjoyed using her playful jab as a “teaching moment,” it was an all-too-common reminder how pervasive anti-paper and  -print sentiment has become.  We see the messages everywhere.  Our banks, utilities and telecom providers tell us that going paperless saves trees.  Some well-intentioned but misguided individuals and groups go much further, saying that paper use is destroying U.S forests.

So, how do we counter the claims that print and paper are the archenemies of the forest?   With facts.  And there’s no better resource for forest facts than the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).  The USFS uses the Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators (MP C&I), a common framework agreed to by 12 countries, to describe, monitor, assess and report on forest trends at the national level and on the progress being made toward U.S. sustainable forest management.   I encourage you to read the most recent National Report on Sustainable Forests  for a deeper understanding of this process and all the factors that influence the health of American forests.   In the meantime, a few key findings from the report might come in handy if you’re faced with answering unsubstantiated claims about the relationship between paper-based communications and forest sustainability.

First, some context.  Forest sustainability is a complex topic that can’t be adequately explored in a few brief paragraphs.  However, on the whole, there is no evidence that we are “using up” U.S. forests, according to the USFS.   In fact, total forested area has been stable at around 750 million acres for the last century despite a threefold increase in population during the same period, and the volume of wood found in U.S. forests is increasing because we grow more than we harvest.

With that said, there is cause for concern.  There is substantial fragmentation and outright forest loss at the regional and local levels, due primarily to urban development.   Widespread increases in insect infestation and other natural disturbances and the increasing demand for wood-based biofuels are also contributing factors.  Add in the potential effects of climate change and the risks and uncertainties associated with these factors are compounded even further.   But, contrary to the “go paperless, save trees” messages that suggest growing and harvesting forests to make paper is bad for the environment, the USFS says one of the most critical drivers negatively affecting forest sustainability is the of loss these “working forests.”

The fact is that active forest management – like the responsible practices used on U.S. lands to grow trees for papermaking – is needed for forests to stay healthy and sustainable, says the USFS.   While short periods of benign neglect may not damage the long-term sustainability of some forests, driving forces like natural disturbance and climate change will lead to quicker, harsher changes in the health of forests without management.

In addition, the USFS reports that forest management and the revenue it generates serve as a hedge against the number one cause of forest fragmentation and loss – real estate development.   In other words, the demand for products sourced from sustainably managed forests, including paper, provides a financial incentive for landowners to continue managing their land responsibly rather than selling it off for development or other non-forest uses.   The report also cites a number of studies that show forest management for wood production can enhance biodiversity and other ecosystem services (Gustafson et al. 2007; Miller et al. 2009).

As advocates for the sustainability of paper and print, we should respond to the proliferation of simplistic “go paperless” slogans with what the too-often ignored scientific consensus tells us, because that’s our most powerful case. That consensus has never offered a shred of support for the idea that paper use destroys forests.  In fact, the opposite is true.  If the print and paper industry were to disappear today, we’d lose a major economic incentive – the kind so often recommended by the broader sustainability community – to channel market forces for real environmental benefit.

For more facts about the sustainability of print and paper, check out the Myths and Facts pages on the Two Sides website.

Kathi Rowzie is a guest blogger for Two Sides.  She is a sustainability communications consultant with The Gagliardi Group in Memphis, Tennessee.

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