As a kid I played outside mainly because my parents forced me too. However, I turned those demands into adventures filled with many good memories from my backyard, playgrounds, and in the woods. Being outside peeked my interest in Boy Scouts. I loved earning merit badges mainly. I don’t remember how many I earned, but when I was at Scout Camp, I would first go for the “low hanging fruit” ones like “fishing” where I had to find a worm, and then put it on a hook. (I don’t even think I had to catch a fish, which was fine because I thought that was cruel anyway.) And then graduate to the ones that took some time and thinking. Either way I enjoyed the challenge and the reward of sewing the patch on my cotton scout sash.
But what I remember and cherish the most from all my scouting adventures was the first lesson the Scoutmaster taught the kids when we were setting up a campsite – “leave no trace.” I learned that our natural environment and connected ecosystems were vital for not only our survival, but also for the animals, birds, and insects of the world and that we all relied on one another for survival. That idea of conservation was important to me as a child and makes perfect sense that now it is what I research and advocate for on this site and as a design educator.
Leave no trace and give back
What I have come to believe in this era of climate change, is that leaving no trace is good, but (in addition) giving back is better. Restoring what was taken is the first step, and step two is to be regenerative. Put more simply, to be regenerative is to create a “better” world than we found it, now and into the future. So a campsite as an example can be left how you found it, but to give back means for you to enrich the soil with your compost or to bring indigenous plants and trees to plant.
The gifts the forests provide us of shelter, food, and beauty are even more quickly being taken from us as our demand for wood products grow. As designers we are part of this problem choosing non-recycled papers or creating overpackaged products for increased consumption. I write this article to bring you aware of two great new campaigns that launched in the past few months that you should pay attention to and learn from to create a better world for yourself and your children.
The first campaign is from the non-profit the Environmental Paper Network and called Unwrap the Truth. Their initiative is directed at an audience that includes designers, but also aimed at all levels and job types in larger and smaller companies/organizations to help reduce paper consumption. Their slogan is:
Save paper, help save the world.
When we team up to change how companies make and use paper and packaging, and we make our own choices to cut waste and use paper responsibly, we create lasting solutions for our climate, forests, and communities.
A second and connected campaign is Pack4Good from the non-profit Canopy. Their mission is:
4Good, 4Climate, 4Species, 4Water and so much more…
Pack4Good prioritizes use of radically efficient design and systems to reduce use of paper packaging, increase reusable shipping boxes, maximize recycled content and kick start next generation solution alternatives to conventional wood feedstock.
Here are some important facts (from research at Canopy) to consider as you think about paper and paper products in your daily and professional lives:
- Forest-based packaging is growing annually by approximately five percent and is forecast to double to 482 million tons/year by 2030. (Global Pulp & Paper Market Outlook & Prospects – 2017)
- More than half the paper used globally is for paper packaging, with volumes on the increase. (EPN State of the Global Paper Industry 2018)
- Three billion trees are logged every year to produce paper packaging. (Canopy 2019 and EPN Paper Calculator)
- Three billion trees would cover an area the size of Belgium and the pulp from these trees weighs the equivalent of 6 million Boeing 737 aircrafts. (Airlines.net, EPN paper calculator)
The truth is that our forests are declining at alarming rates all over the world. This is due to an increasing global population and its hunger for wood and paper products. The damage to our forests will last generations and the gifts they provide us will be lost for our children. Furthermore the fight against climate change must feature increasing the size and health of our forests to sequester carbon dioxide. 30% of the climate solution lies with forests.
We can stop this decline in our forests by remembering that scouting motto from your youth of “leave no trace” and adding in the idea of “giving back.”