The Green Scene

The greening of the paper industry?

“Paper is still one of our most challenging environmental issues, and there’s still much more work to be done,” says Joshua Martin, coordinator of the Environmental Paper Network. But Martin expresses hope, not cynicism, about the industry’s recent environmental progress.

Logging the industry’s progress: Companies like International Paper are long-time foes of forest activists. But the industry has taken steps toward greener paper production, according to the Environmental Paper Network.

The “greening” of corporate America may extend even to paper mills, according to a report released Oct. 2 by the Environmental Paper Network. A spike in demand for recycled paper, a trend toward cleaner production, and a rise in certified-sustainable forestry have set a new standard for the industry, the report concludes. Taken together, these trends represent a milestone for forest activists, says Martin.

“I think it’s in part due to efforts of groups like the Dogwood Alliance here in Asheville,” he says, “that have put really amazing creative energy into changing the purchasing policies of major paper purchasers.” Martin also credits the shift to a growing “environmental literacy” among corporate executives and the public at large.

But the report doesn’t gloss over the industry’s dark side: Paper production still accounts for more than 40 percent of the world’s industrial wood harvest, for instance, and operations are beginning to shift to countries in the global South, where environmental regulations tend to be lax. And from chain saw to recycling bin, the paper-producing machine generates a glut of greenhouse gases.

The Environmental Paper Network is a nationwide coalition with more than 100 member organizations. The report, which is global in scope, was produced by a local steering committee. Martin, the Dogwood Alliance and the Green Press Initiative all had a hand in producing it.

Fuming about Cliffside

Duke Energy’s new Cliffside power plant will spew mercury into the air and accelerate global warming, environmentalists charge. As the deadline for submitting public comments nears, the Canary Coalition and other grassroots groups are bent on ensuring that every last opposition voice is heard.

Planned for Rutherford County, the coal-fired unit is awaiting the final stamp of approval in the form of a permit from the N.C. Division of Air Quality. But first, the state must weigh any concerns raised during public comment. Despite citizen requests, the agency has refused to hold public hearings about Cliffside in Asheville and Charlotte, according to Canary Coalition Executive Director Avram Friedman.

But local environmental groups have banded together to hold hearings anyway—without participation by agency representatives. The Asheville hearing will happen Thursday, Oct. 18, from 6 to 10 p.m. in A-B Tech’s Simpson Auditorium. Each speaker will be allotted three minutes, and moderators will send both recorded and written comments to the DAQ before the Oct. 31 deadline.

For details, visit

Naturally built

Nontoxic home-furnishing products that aren’t petroleum-based tend to be very imaginative. Recycled-glass countertops, for instance, are smooth and speckled with the colors of hundreds of glass bottles. Another countertop material—“paper stone”—is made by compressing a stack of post-consumer-recycled paper with enough force to fuse it into a solid mass (the binding agent, made from a byproduct of cashew nuts, helps the process along). There’s wood finish made with things like flax oil and peppermint extract, and floorboards reclaimed from old barns.

These are just a few of the products offered by Build It Naturally, a new green-building store that will open on Biltmore Avenue on Oct. 15. For business owner Jennifer Woodruff, the phrase “people, planet, profits” is something of a mantra. “Our goal is to be for change, not against the things in this world that are so frustrating,” she says.

The store will offer nontoxic paints manufactured by a company that offsets all of its energy consumption by supporting wind power. Build It Naturally will also use a biodiesel-powered delivery vehicle.

Woodruff and company Vice President Markus Van Lokeren say they’re looking forward to a “collaborative relationship” with Asheville Hardware, which recently opened across the street from their location.

Build It Naturally is next to the French Broad Food Co-Op. It will be open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.


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