Buy Recycled Products and Help Save the Environment

It’s no accident that the symbol for recycling is a circle of arrows.  Reusing and recycling materials are only part of the effort needed to reduce the strain on environmental resources.  Consumers must also purchase goods created from recycled materials in order to make the circle complete.

That’s why Bay Area residents are asked to make a special effort to use recycled paper at home and at work.  Request paper that has at least 30 percent “post-consumer” recycled content – meaning that at least 30 percent of the paper is made from fibers that were salvaged from a previous paper product such as newspapers, magazines, junk mail, or paper packaging.

“Consumers believe they no longer have to ask for recycled, but more than 90 percent of the printing and writing paper made in this country is still virgin paper made from trees,” said Susan Kinsella, Executive Director of Conservatree (, a Bay Area non-profit organization that educates paper buyers on environmental paper purchasing. “Every ton of recycled paper substituted for virgin paper saves 17 trees and a significant amount of energy that would be required to make paper from raw materials.  Recycled paper also reduces hazardous air pollutants, a byproduct of paper production.”

“Recycled paper is available from several retailers in the Bay Area, so this is something that residents can do right away that will have a positive effect on the environment,” Kinsella said.  “We hope that buying reams or cases of paper with at least 30 percent post-consumer recycled content will become a regular habit.”

Bay Area stores that stock recycled paper for individual or business customers include Office Depot, FedEx Office, Office Max, Staples, and others.  It is important that you specifically look for and request recycled paper since most of the paper on the shelves is not recycled.  

Kinsella said that when recycled paper first became available on the market years ago, its cost and concerns about quality limited its appeal to consumers.  Now many recycled papers are priced about the same – or less – than paper without post-consumer recycled content, and they can be used successfully at home and at work in a wide variety of uses from finicky copiers to high-end graphics printing.  

High quality recycled paper is readily available and priced competitively with non-recycled brands.  Recycled paper performs as well as non-recycled sheets and can be used successfully in a wide variety of uses from finicky copiers to high-end graphics printing. Inexpensive copier paper is also available with recycled content.  Ask your paper supplier to explain your options.

What you can do:

Specify at least “30 % post-consumer recycled content”, (meaning that at least 30 percent of the paper is made from fibers that were salvaged from a previous paper product) when ordering any paper product, including printing and copy paper, envelopes, Post-It notes, adding machine tape, forms, business cards, checks, letters, file folders, tablets, note pads, index cards, letterhead – even janitorial paper products. 

Request recycled paper on all print jobs, and label communications with “Printed (or Copied) on Recycled Paper.”

Radio Ads


  • Conservatree
    Conservatree has lots of information on recycled paper and studies comparing recycled paper to virgin paper.
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
    The Natural Resources Defense Council has a buying guide to recycled home tissue products.
  • Paper Recycling Coalition
    The Paper Recycling Coalition has many facts and resources for recycled paper plus instructions on how to make your own.