Monday, 30 December 2013

Highlight of the year - the day job

On Mondays and Tuesdays I'm the co-ordinator of the European Environmental Paper Network, a coalition of more than 70 green and human rights organisations in 26 countries, all of which want paper to be more sustainably produced and consumed. For some of this year I was working Wednesdays for them as well, on the Shrink Paper project, which encourages big users of paper (banks, supermarkets, catalogues etc) to use less of it.

I like my job. I'm proud to start the week by trying to do my bit to prevent the world's forests being decimated for disposable products, and sticking up for the rights of forest peoples in their struggles against corporate landgrabbers who want to pulp their woodland homes or plant pulp plantations on their farmland. I'm happy to learn about the campaign successes of our member organisations, like Robin Wood's achievement getting IKEA to promise to stop sourcing paper from tropical deforestation, and the commitments from Indonesian company APP won by local activists with the support of groups like Rainforest Action Network, WWF and Greenpeace. And I'm excited that we raised enough funds this year so we can collaborate more with our colleagues in America and China on a more effective global response to the multi-national paper industry.

As a writer, of course, I want masses of sheets to come pouring off the presses with my words on it, but as a tree-hugging activist I want the paper industry to stop growing. I inhabit that paradox with some unease, at times, and I'm thankful that my publisher Saraband understands the issues, so I can sleep at night knowing that my books are printed on 100% recycled paper, or being read digitally, requiring no paper at all.

People ask me if there's one thing they can do to help the world's forests, what would it be, and I always say the same thing - make sure you always buy toilet rolls that are 100% recycled post-consumer waste paper. The world's remaining forests are far too precious to flush away.

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