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20140331-IMG_6637Taking time to put pen to paper can actually increase your learning capability, retention and brain development according to many experts and studies on handwriting conducted over the past few years. While many schools are taking cursive requirements out of their curriculum and the majority of us compose our thoughts and work on computers through keyboards, we can’t let the practice and benefits of handwriting fall to the wayside.

“For children, handwriting is extremely important. Not how well they do it, but that they do it and practice it,” said Karin Harman James, an assistant professor in the department of psychological and brain sciences at Indiana University. “Typing does not do the same thing.”

William R. Klemm, D.V.M., Ph.D. agrees. In an article he wrote called “Cursive writing makes kids smarter” published on March 14, 2013 in Memory Medic, Klemm states that in the case of learning cursive writing, the brain develops functional specialization that integrates both sensation, movement control, and thinking. Brain imaging studies reveal that multiple areas of the brain become co-activated during learning of cursive writing of pseudo-letters, as opposed to typing or just visual practice.

He also believes there is spill-over benefit for thinking skills used in reading and writing. To write legible cursive, fine motor control is needed over the fingers. Students have to pay attention and think about what and how they are doing it. They have to practice.

There are also benefits to the physical aspects of the actual act of writing. Julie Deardorff wrote an article in the Tribune newspaper that outlined the benefits of gripping and moving a pen or pencil that reach beyond communication. She stated that emerging research shows that handwriting increases brain activity, hones fine motor skills and can predict a child’s academic success in ways that keyboarding can’t.

According to an article last year by reporter Chris Gayomali in The Wall Street Journal, some physicians claim that the act of writing — which engages your motor skills, memory, and more — is good cognitive exercise for baby boomers who want to keep their minds sharp as they age. And if you’re looking to pick up a new skill, a 2008 study published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience found that adults had an easier time recognizing new characters — like Chinese, math symbols, or music notes — that were written by hand over characters generated by a computer.

“Handwriting aids memory. If you write yourself a list or a note — then lose it — you’re much more likely to remember what you wrote than if you just tried to memorize it,” said Occupational Therapist Katya Feder, an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa School of Rehabilitation.

According to Feder in the same Tribune article, handwriting proficiency inspires confidence. The more we practice a skill such as handwriting, the stronger the motor pathways become until the skill becomes automatic. Once it’s mastered, children can move on to focus on the subject, rather than worry about how to form letters.

Handwriting engages different brain circuits than keyboarding. The contact, direction and pressure of the pen or pencil send the brain a message. And the repetitive process of handwriting “integrates motor pathways into the brain,” said Feder. When it becomes automatic or learned, “there’s almost a groove in the pathways,” she said. The more children write, the more pathways are laid down.

So now you’ve heard what the experts say…keep writing! And we will keep paving the way for responsible paper production.

References:

Phil Riebel
President, Two Sides North America, Inc.

 

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When you work closely with the people and companies involved in the Graphic Communications Value Chain – the papermakers, printers, publishers, foresters, and countless others who make paper products and printed communication possible – it’s easy to see how versatile, practical, and environmentally beneficial responsible production and use of print and paper can be.

For the public at large, however, that positive message is harder to see. Working against negative information and environmental misconceptions about print and paper is difficult; I’m sure we have all had moments when we feel like nobody out there understands the true sustainable features of our products.

That is why it’s great to find others who are also working to dispel the myths and convey the “good news” about paper and print products and their sustainability. A case in point is a series of articles sponsored by Two Sides member company International Paper. The articles are available online at Triple Pundit, a new-media company with one of the world’s most well-read websites on ethical, sustainable and profitable business.

These six highly informative articles were fact-checked by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. They do a great job of conveying the positive attributes of print, paper, and forest products, with a special focus on certification and sustainability. We’ve provided a quick summary of each below, with a link to the full article on the Triple Pundit website. I hope you find them a useful resource.  Feel free to share ideas and resources in the Comments section below.

Paper and the Untold Sustainable Forestry Story

By Teri Shanahan, Vice President, Sustainability, International Paper

This is a great introduction to what the author calls “a counterintuitive story: harvest trees to save forests.” She lays out one of the most important fundamentals of the sustainable forests equation: privately owned forestland not used for forest products is at serious risk of being given over to other uses.  “In the U.S., a whopping 70 percent of forestland are ‘working forests’ that rely on an economic driver for their existence,” Shanahan notes. “By using paper, recycling that paper, and choosing paper once again, you can play a part in preserving our planet’s forests.”

Deforestation and the Role of Paper Products

By Phil Covington

This article provides a balanced look at the causes and consequences of deforestation. Globally, around 40 percent of the annual industrial wood harvest is processed for paper and paperboard. While it is true that “demand for paper and other forest products provides an incentive to keep growing, harvesting and regenerating planted forests,” says Covington, paper producers are working to sustainably manage the world’s forests, and the industry need not be a cause of deforestation. “Through proper management with independently certified forestry standards, the supply of paper – fundamental to humankind’s development – can remain so responsibly into the future.”

The State of the Earth’s Forests

By Eric Justian

Providing a more in-depth look at the world’s forested areas, this article discusses variables affecting our forests, and explains the economic factors that have driven change in the past and must be considered for a sustainable future. “The important thing is for nations to focus on actually using forests as permanent and invaluable resources,” Justian writes. “As nations do that, they protect and promote those resources. This is where businesses and governments can and do work together toward a globally healthy, sustainable goal. In that goal, the world is moving in the right direction.”

Certification: Building Standards for Sustainable Forests

By Jan Lee

“Pretty much anyone who works in sustainable forestry these days will tell you that certification is the cornerstone of a responsible eco-conscious forestry program,” writes Lee. This article outlines the primary and secondary benefits of certification, and discusses the different certification programs available, as well as the distinct benchmarks offered by each.

Join the Forest Certification Movement to Meet Your Sustainability Goals

By Kathy Abusow

Today, only about 10 percent of the world’s forests are certified, which represents about a quarter of global round wood production. “It’s vitally important for all of us to increase the percentage of timberland that is certified to a credible standard, while also promoting responsible forestry on uncertified lands,” says the author.  This article outlines steps business leaders can take to support the certification movement and promote sustainable forestry.

Responsible Forestry: Can Certification Save Our Forests?

By Mike Hower

Human society, with its economic and material needs, relies on the resources provided by our planet’s forests; yet, absent of human intervention, natural factors like storms, pests, and diseases also consume those resources. Writes Hower, “Can we find a middle ground to maintain the health of the forests and also use them responsibly for present and future generations?” This article compares two leading certification programs – SFI and FSC – and explains their differences. As Hower concludes, “In a world of depleting forest stocks, any effort toward responsible forestry is a step in the right direction.”

Phil Riebel
President, Two Sides U.S., Inc.

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Lots of people use paper towels to clean up leaks – but we’ve heard about a way paper is being used to prevent leaks of a much more serious nature.

Earlier this year, several world news outlets shared the news that Russia’s Federal Protective Service (FSO) had budgeted 486,000 rubles – just under $15,000 – for new electric typewriters, along with ribbons and other accessories.  By using typewriters and paper for sensitive or classified communications, the FSO, which is charged with protecting important government personnel including Russia’s president and prime minister, hopes to prevent the kind of electronic document leaks related to the recent WikiLeaks scandal.

The UK’s Telegraph newspaper quoted Nikolai Kovalev, former director of Russia’s Federal Security Service, speaking to Russian newspaper Izvestiya: “From the point of view of security, any means of electronic communication is vulnerable. You can remove any information from a computer. There are means of defense, of course, but there’s no 100 percent guarantee they will work. So from the point of view of preserving secrets, the most primitive methods are preferable: a person’s hand and a pen, or a typewriter.”

In addition to being safe from electronic theft or distribution, typed paper documents are easier to trace to their source. Each individual typewriter has its’ own unique “signature,” due to minute differences in type patterns and mechanical operation. Computer printers don’t exhibit this type of identifiable signature.

News sources including USA Today, The Guardian, Huffington Post and other international media all reported on the story. The New York Post ran the headline, “Russian government goes back in time; will use typewriters to leak-proof sensitive classified documents,” which unfortunately (and unfairly) implies that paper documentation is somehow a thing of the past.

The truth is, electronic document vulnerability is a very real concern. In addition to government intelligence records, proprietary or sensitive business records (including financial records, vendor lists, or client information) can be targeted for theft, as can personal correspondences via email or text. Identity fraud (through appropriation of personal information, such as a credit card number, that has been stored or transmitted electronically) affects thousands of people every day; in 2010, more than 8 million Americans reported being the victims of identity fraud (source: Congressional Research Service report to Congress.)

What’s more, typewriters and paper documentation are still necessary for many specific uses. One recent Wall Street Journal article noted that many states have laws requiring that permanent records, such as death certificates, must be filled out by hand or typed. Funeral homes, government agencies, and even prisons still rely on typewriters to create physical copies (i.e., paper, not virtual) of permanent records. This NBC News story relates how typewriters are becoming increasingly popular among a demographic too young to remember a time before “keystroking” had supplanted “typing” as a necessary skill. As one young student tells reporter Stephanie Gosk, “When you’re sitting at (a typewriter), you almost feel like you can be like Ernest Hemingway or Jack Kerouac.”

Old-school typewriters didn’t need electricity to run. In 1939, author Ernest Hemingway worked on “For Whom the Bell Tolls” outside at his ranch in Sun Valley, Idaho. Source: Google Images

Permanent, secure, and an elegant form of artistic expression –typed documents are still a necessary part of our world, even in this “digital age.” We would love to hear about your experiences with type or typewriters; please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Phil Riebel
President, Two Sides US, Inc.

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This blog appeared in PI World on November 7, 2013 and has been re-posted here with permissions of PIWorld.

There are many debates today about whether technology is helping or hindering learning. Many school administrators want to be the first to adopt new technology because they feel their schools are being judged as inadequate if they don’t keep up with changing resources. But we have to ask the question, “Are they considering all of the options that can help students succeed?” When you consider the negatives of learning from a screen, as well as the cost of purchasing, maintaining and updating electronic devices, is this really the best approach to learning?

Based on a multi-country survey commissioned by Two Sides in September of 2011, we have qualified what we already believed…that many consumers (~70 percent), including 18- to 24-year-olds, prefer reading from paper. In fact, according to a study by O’Hara, K. and A. Sellen in 1997 called A Comparison of Reading Paper and On-line Documents, we may actually learn better from a book, newspaper or printed report than we do using a computer screen.

So why are we pushing so hard to get technology into the classroom?

According to an article in the Chronicle Herald on July 2, 2013, Peter Reiman and Anindito Aditomo of the University of Sydney recently conducted an analysis of the research literature about the impact of technology on student achievement. Their findings were published in the International Guide to Student Achievement (2013). They conclude that most studies show only a moderate academic benefit from technology and that “the effect of computer technology seems to be particularly small in studies that use either large samples or randomized control groups.”

What this tells us is that there are limited benefits to using technology in the classroom…at least in today’s world. Schools need to take a broader approach to improving learning by considering all options of the education process including the basics such as environment, experienced teachers, strong curriculum and all different forms of resources.

In his 2011 book “Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning,” renowned education writer Mike Schmoker demonstrates that schools focusing on three key things (a content-rich curriculum, sound lessons and purposeful reading and writing in every discipline) substantially outperform schools that do not. According to Schmoker, technology is unnecessary when it comes to improving student achievement and too much emphasis on technology can get in the way of the essentials of learning.

Technology can also be a distraction for students and contributes to multi-tasking and disappointing grades and performance. Laptops may actually hinder students’ ability to learn, providing a distraction and even affecting students sitting near their owners, according to a stunning new Canadian report. With laptops and tablet computers pervading the modern classroom, the report suggests that paper and pencil is less distracting overall.

“We really didn’t think the effects would be this huge,” explained McMaster University researcher Faria Sana, who co-authored the study with fellow doctoral student Tina Weston. “Those students who multitasked on their laptops performed significantly worse than the pencil pushers—and surprisingly, the effect even reached to students sitting near the laptop users,” Sana said.

What we are learning is that paper and pencil are very effective ways to learn since these traditional tools are less distracting and easier to rely on in all circumstances.

The real question here is, “Are the schools determining the best ways for their students to study and learn, or are they just another group jumping blindly on the technology bandwagon and perhaps forgetting about the educational value of print and paper?”

We must continue research on this topic and provide examples and resources to help educators and parents understand the key role that paper plays in the classroom…and how it can ultimately lead to better learning and comprehension.

Phil Riebel
President, Two Sides US, Inc.

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Although many of the “save a tree” messages are printed on bills and envelopes, consumers don’t differentiate between different paper products.  These messages are a major driver of public perception about all paper and print products.  If your company’s business and livelihood relies on print and paper, I can guarantee that this message is not helpful.  It’s not only on bills, it’s on websites, emails, Youtube videos… it’s even printed on the back of buses and in bus stops!  Major corporate marketing departments are spreading their views on paper far and wide to promote lower cost e-billing and e-statements.  These claims are harming our industry and the livelihood of millions of Americans who work in the paper value chain, from the family forest owner to the direct mail company.

Watch out not to get hit by the anti-paper bus!

Watch out not to get hit by the anti-paper bus!

As a private forest owner and someone who has made a career in the forest products industry, I have a personal agenda and a business reason to have these claims removed or changed.  Based on our recent Two Sides member satisfaction survey, I also know that the vast majority of our members feel the same way.

Banks, utilities and telecoms (among others) willingly take our money and, at the same time, their marketing departments spew out “anti-paper” slogans to convince consumers to stop using the very products we rely on for our livelihood!  Whatever happened to the basic rule that says “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”?

The Good News

It appears that many Americans are seeing behind the “greenwash”.   This was evident from our latest Nationwide survey  where we asked US consumers how they felt about the “go green – go paperless” message.

1) Half of consumers surveyed do not believe, feel misled by or question the validity of such claims.

2) 84% agreed that paperless bills and statements are being promoted to reduce costs.

In another recent study of paper versus electronic services done by Infotrends on behalf of Consumer for Paper Options, 80% of US consumers said it was not appropriate for companies to cite environmentalism when it is not their real motive.

clickThis data is greatly helping our campaign to challenge and remove the claims.  As of today, we have engaged with 61 companies, 17 of which have removed their anti-paper environmental claims.  Most of our discussions with corporate marketing and legal staff have been productive.  Due to the size of the companies and the attempt to “turn the ship”, patience and persistence is key.

A progress report on our campaign is available to Two Sides members.

The Bad News

“Go Paperless – Go Green” claims still create a misleading view of print and paper products for many people.  They link paper to permanent forest loss or deforestation and they suggest that not using paper will save forests.

Truth is: Paper comes from a renewable resource and is highly recyclable.  US forest area has been stable and growing.  There is 49% more wood volume than 50 years ago.  Forest loss is caused by urbanization and development, not forestry.  In fact, US pulp, paper and other wood products provide an incentive for forest owners to retain well-managed forests instead of converting the land to non-forest use.  If our forestland loses its economic value, it will gradually disappear in favor of other land uses.

The green claims also suggest that using electronic media instead of paper will help the environment.  However, over its life cycle, electronic media has many environmental impacts that are sometimes unknown and often ignored when companies make the switch from paper to electronic.  The interplay between paper products and electronic services is complex and depends on many variables.  For example, in many cases the use of paper is just shifted to the consumer with 34% of people printing statements or bills at home.

The role of Two Sides is to ensure people and corporations receive both sides of the story and the science behind our facts.  In the end, it’s not rocket science and many people understand the environmental, social and economic value of paper products.

After all, 72% of people we polled said that when print on paper is responsibly produced, used and recycled, it can be an environmentally sustainable way to communicate.

For more about the above facts, go to http://www.twosides.us/mythsandfacts  and http://files.twosides.info:8080/content/facts/pdf_312.pdf

Phil Riebel
President, Two Sides US

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Over the last year, Two Sides made the transformation from new kid on the block to familiar advocate for the sustainability of print on paper.  Our membership continues to grow and our collective voice is getting stronger every day.  Even more exciting, we’ve extended our reach and effectiveness where it really counts – to the C-suites of many major U.S. companies and to American consumers.   Following the strategic guidance of the Two Sides U.S. Board of Directors, our ambitious 2012-2013 Marketing and Communications Plan built on past successes and incorporated new efforts to put an end to anti-paper environmental marketing claims and share the news that Print and Paper Have a Great Environmental Story to Tell.

Membership – As of July 1, 2013, 2013, Two Sides U.S. has 60 commercial members  from across the Graphic Communications Supply Chain, including paper producers, merchants, printers, envelope manufacturers, and 34 allied organizations and partner members.  Internationally, the Two Sides network includes more than 1,000 members.

Paperless Claims Initiative Two Sides launched this nationwide education effort in July 2012 to encourage leading U.S. companies to end the use of unsubstantiated marketing claims that electronic billing and customer communications are better for the environment than paper communications.  The campaign initially engaged about 50 companies, primarily in the financial services, telecommunications and utilities industries. While time-consuming, our systematic educational approach is working. Ten companies have removed their anti-paper environmental claims and we are currently in discussions with several others.  In March 2013, we launched Phase II of this initiative with a second round of communications.  With input from members and others, our potential target list has grown to more than 200 companies.   This initiative is patterned after a similar, highly successful program conducted by Two Sides in the United Kingdom.

TS US PrintSolutions002 10 875H x 8 125Wmm  col woman 2_4_13Ad Campaign To address misconceptions about the sustainability of print on paper identified by Two Sides research, the No Wonder You Love Paperad campaign was designed to educate consumers that print media is sustainable, made from a renewable resource and supports sustainable forest management, and to promote the reading experience and enjoyment of printed magazines and newspapers.   The campaign includes a user-friendly companion website for consumers (www.youlovepaper.info/us). To date, several ads have appeared in Print Solutions and Gravure magazine.  The first consumer-facing ads appeared in the digital version of Inc. magazine in April and most recently in the June issue of National Geographic.  Over the next year, Two Sides is seeking free advertising space in business, trade and consumer magazines and newspapers.

Response to Anti-Paper Initiatives – In addition to its focused campaign on addressing paperless claims, Two Sides often responds to new initiatives aimed at encouraging consumers to “go paperless” for environmental reasons.  Most notable during the past year were responses to Toshiba’s proposed “No Print Day” and Google’s participation in the Paperless2013 initiative. Both were successful in removing anti-paper green messages thanks to the actions of Two Sides and it’s allies.

Two Sides U.S. websiteWebsite – The Two Sides website, www.twosides.us, continued to be a valuable resource for members and the general public, providing the latest news, research, case studies, tools and useful facts about the sustainability of print and paper.  We added a new section on Environmental Marketing Best Practices for Print and Paperin late 2012 and will be adding a new section on Responsible Production and Use of Print and Paper in the coming months. The site is updated monthly and members receive email notification of new items that have been added.  For the quarter ended March 31, 2013, the website had more than 10,000 visits.  There are about 400 visits per week to the site.

Member Support – Two Sides supported its members’ efforts to promote the responsible production and use of print and paper throughout the year with a variety of presentations, materials and other resources available on the Member Only sections of our website

Myths and Facts Sheets – Two Sides updated our series of fact sheets that cite well-known, credible sources to dispel the common myths about the sustainability of print and paper.  The fact sheets are available to anyone on the Two Sides website at www.twosides.us/mythsandfacts.

brochureMyths and Facts Brochure – We updated our popular brochure designed to make it easier for members to share the Myths and Facts about print and paper. A customizable version of the brochure with high-resolution artwork is available to members; a low-resolution version of the generic brochure is available to anyone.

paperlessnotgreener-tnNews Media – Two Sides distributed news and information through the media and was featured in a number of business and trade publications.

Social Media – Outreach via social media included regular posts to our new Facebook page (www.facebook.com/twosidesusa), LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com – Two Sides US group), Twitter (twitter.com/twosidesUS) and the Two Sides blog (twosidesus.wordpress.com).  The number of Two Sides followers is growing weekly.  Please join us at the above links!

Conference Participation – Two Sides presented at/participated in a wide variety of industry meetings over the past 12 months, including RISI North America, Maine Pulp and Paper Association, Graph Expo 2012, TAPPI Student Summit, Gravure Publishing Conference, Envelope Manufacturers Association spring meeting, Paper Shipping Sack Manufacturers Association, and the 2012 Gravure Association of America Environmental Workshop.

Webinars and Presentations to Member Companies – Two Sides hosted/participated in over a dozen webinars and face-to-face presentations to introduce the organization to prospective members, to review the many features available on the Two Sides website and to educate on the do’s and don’ts of environmental marketing. Two Sides also hosted webinars for members and other stakeholders on topics related to the sustainability of print and paper, including “An Introduction to the Forest Legality Alliance” and “Sustainable Plantations.”

Member Satisfaction Survey – In June 2012, Two Sides conducted its first annual member satisfaction survey to gauge member attitudes about the organization’s progress and guide it in refining and expanding its efforts.  We received great feedback and results show that we are on the right track.  Members can access the full report on our Member Page.  Our second annual member satisfaction survey is planned for July 2013.

ENGO and Academic Partnerships – Two Sides has established partnerships with a number of environmental non-governmental organizations and U.S. colleges to share mutually beneficial resources and further expand our communications network.

  • Forest Legality AllianceWorld Resource Institute (WRI)/Forest Legality Alliance (FLA) – In July 2012, Two Sides joined the WRI-FLA, a global network dedicated to promoting the demand of forest products of legal origin, and to working with stakeholders along the supply chain to meet that demand.
  • DOVETAILDovetail Partners – In September 2012, Dovetail Partners Inc. joined Two Sides and Dovetail Executive Director Kathryn Fernholz was elected a member of the Two Sides U.S. Board of Directors. This collaboration offers opportunities to help clarify complex environmental issues related to the use of print and paper and in doing so, to increase people’s understanding of and their capacity to make good print- and paper-related business decisions.
  • Colleges and Foundations – The following U.S. Colleges and Foundations have joined Two Sides:
  • Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Graphic Communication Department
  • Coggin College of Business, University of North Florida
  • Miami University Paper Science and Engineering Foundation
  • Paper Technology Foundation, Western Michigan University
  • State University of New York, Environmental Science & Forestry
  • University of Houston , Digital Media Program
  • University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point , Paper Science Foundation
Students at SUNY-ESF proudly wearing their new "choose paper" T-shirts

Students at SUNY-ESF proudly wearing their new “choose paper” T-shirts

Join us!

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ecologoCHICAGO, June 26, 2013 – Two Sides today announced its Ecographic Challenge, a contest to develop an engaging infographic that clearly presents facts about the sustainability of print and paper.  The contest is open to amateur and professional graphic designers who are U.S. residents and are at least 18 years old at the time of entry.  Individual and team entries will be accepted.

“Two Sides is reaching out to the country’s most creative talent to help us promote the sustainability of print and paper in a way that’s fun and easy to understand,” says Two Sides President Phil Riebel. “We’re providing all the facts and asking contestants to create an ‘ecographic’ that will help correct common misperceptions about the sustainability of printed communications, like the ones perpetuated by misleading environmental marketing claims that urge people to switch from paper to electronic communications to protect the environment.”

Two Sides will award one $2,500 cash prize to the winning individual or team.  Entries will be accepted until 9 p.m. EDT on August 16, 2013.  The winner will be announced at the Print13 Conference in Chicago on September 10, and will be acknowledged in all published versions of the ecographic.  Please visit http://www.twosides.us/Two-Sides-Eco-graphic-Challenge for complete rules, ecographic specifications and an entry form.

Support for the Ecographic Challenge is provided by the following Two Sides members:  Ariva, Boise Inc., Domtar Corporation, Lindenmeyr Munroe,  PrintMediaCentr, Unisource Worldwide, UPM and Western States Envelope & Label.

For more information about the Two Sides Ecographic Challenge, please email infographic.twosidesus@gmail.com.

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