Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Down with Domtar!

[⋯] and the environmentalists become more and more noisy… –James May, Top Gear
Noisy indeed. And get ready for some more of this noise than the ones produced by diesel engines and other assorted machinery.

I'm an avid reader of Slashdot, and I came across this rather interesting article that stood out from the piles of technology-oriented articles: the top executive from a major North American paper manufacturer has launched an advert campaign, hopefully to offset a projected 4 per cent decrease of paper demand. Domtar Corporation, with its headquarters in Montreal, encourages people to print more documents on paper, so much as to name the campaign Put It On Paper. The implication of that title is monstrous.

So how is John Williams, president and CEO of the corporation, going to convince people to print more in a world where digital technology is starting to depreciate paper? I guess the adverts will try to refresh people's minds about appropriate uses of paper, how to not feel guilty when using paper and then some.

But I do feel guilty when I use paper in ways where the task could be done with the equivalent or less amount of effort digitally. Perhaps it's the fact that trees are cut down and branches stripped with chainsaws (internal combustion engine machinery), then lifted on logging trailers and hauled to a factory to turn the logs into pulp (more assorted machinery), to packaging the reams and hauling that stuff to a warehouse (and even more machinery), where they sit until getting shipped to retail stores or straight to the customers. Talk about guilt: the multiple shipping legs already significantly contribute to global air pollution, and then add the tree cutting and manufacturing legs. Each leg also inflates the price of the paper by bounds. Talk about guilt out of my pocket.

As much as the company claims that they are committed to sustainability, they were also the subject of some environmental disasters that I will not list. As much as I've already believed that the company's supposed environmental sustainability is pretty much bullshit, and my being against the advert campaign's ideas, let the adverts run their course. The key to ensuring that Domtar comes out the loser in all of this is to not buy paper products from them. Bullying them may just be a stretch.

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