Using Recycled Paper

By Idelle, February 11, 2008

Written by: Idelle Fisher

Compare a small neighborhood grocery shop to a grocery store chain such as Safeway. The products at Safeway are likely going to be more expensive than your neighborhood shop’s. Same goes for recycled paper products. Right now the recycled paper “store” is pretty small – there is not a huge demand for it. But if we all – designers, business owners and individuals – start purchasing recycled products, then the demand will rise, likely bringing the costs down due to ability to purchase in bulk.

I find that, as a Graphic Designer in Denver, the demand for recycled products is fairly low (though on the rise), so when I ask local printers for specialty papers such as New Leaf, they often come back with much more expensive pricing than on their standard stocks, or, they recommend that we not use it, as the print job is not large enough to justify the minimum order of a full palette of the New Leaf paper. It seems that printers don’t seem to desire having recycled paper stocks on hand. Most printers stock a couple of standard papers that they use most often and recommend to clients – the problem is, in Denver, it is hard to find printers that actually recommend and regularly use recycled papers, plus offer the recycled papers with the bulk-rate costs of their current recommended stocks. I also find that when I ask printers to recommend a recycled stock, they often offer stocks that are 10% recycled – and it’s not even post-consumer content.

Direct MailerAs a Graphic Designer, I now recommend 30% post consumer or higher recycled papers to my clients. A few recent projects that have gone on great recycled stocks include a small direct mailing Booklet for mocaPay (left), which was printed by Lange Graphics on New Leaf’s Sakura 100 paper, it came out beautifully. The 8 page booklet had over 100 cash offers to members who used mocaPay to pay for their orders with their cell phones. On the piece, we included a tiny Recycled symbol with the text, “Printed on 100% Recycled Post-Consumer Paper. Please Recycle.” Additionally, Camille DeRose at Lange is great to work with, all my projects we work on together are of very high quality, and she even proofs the projects I work on and brings up any concerns (even – gasp – typos!) to help ensure the finished product is at it’s very best. And from an environmental point of view, fixing any errors BEFORE printing 40,000 pieces is absolutely critical.

Hopefully, if all of us pitch in and request for recycled paper today, tomorrow will bring us the better pricing. Cost aside, the real reason to use recycled products is to do our part to help conserve our planet. The energy savings for recycling paper is significant – it uses about 60% less energy than making paper from new materials. According to The Department of Energy, one ton of paper made from recycled fibers conserves up to 31 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 4,000 KWh of electricity and up to 60 pounds of air pollutants, not including carbon dioxide. That’s a huge difference. So why is it more expensive? I suspect it is because we don’t purchase enough of it to bring the costs down.

Of course, I also recommend printing less. Consider alternative paper-free methods of advertising, such as email newsletters, websites and text messaging promotions. Junk mail is widely accepted as a nuisance that people often times throw away before opening. Hopefully they’re recycling. If we can find better electronic ways to market to our customers, not only will it save trees and our environment, it will also save us money on postage and printing.

Learn more about recycled paper, and other paper terms, click here.

I offer website design, email newsletter design and management, and other online marketing methods, including SEO (Search Engine Marketing). Call Idelle today at 720.260.3541.


  1. Great article Idelle. I appreciate your efforts in helping make a difference in our world. I agree, it’s unfortunate that doing good costs more. Why? Should cost less!

    Thanks for posting this article and sharing a perspective that needs to become contagious.

  2. tjsbbi says:

    Well done Idelle for drawing attention to this topic. Paper production worldwide is about 300 Million tons and it represents about 40% of all trees being felled. The numbers are simply staggering.
    I would encourage people to go beyond recycling and reduce their need for paper printing. We are using 24 Million tons of office-paper in the U.S. annually. I’ve posted an 8-slide presentation showing the impact that this has here … It doesn’t seem to have seeped in to the public conscienceness yet just how big the impact on trees, energy, water and air that we make in order to have a crisp sheet of paper that we will probably trash shortly after using.

  3. Songeestar says:

    I think it is also importaint to know that we can reduce or reuse before there is a need to recycle. There is no need to buy a newspaper for 50 cents when you can read all the articles you would like online. With the internet you can now apply for online bills and statements. This reduces the cost to the bank they can then charge customers less for other services. It helps prevent identity theft by reducing the danger of tampered mail or people looking for account numbers through the trash. These are just a few ways that you can reduce the amount of waste you consume.

  4. Chaondesign says:

    Nice article. It is very hard to find recycled paper. The recycled content is either too low, or the price too high. Most printers make it almost impossible to be a small business and green.
    The one site I have found that has affordable recycled printing is Their paper is only 50% recycled, which is a bummer, but they have a great business card special. I got my business cards printed on recycled paper for $25. Most of my customers are pretty small and working out of their home, so this is a great option for them.

What do you think?

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