12 Months of Sustainable Living / Paper

Why You Should Choose FSC Certified Forest Products

FSC Certified

After a month of trying to live more sustainable with paper, I’ve found that it’s not always as easy as we think. We can definitely recycle paper and cut down on the use of paper in certain areas of our lives, but ultimately paper and forest products are part of everything we do and use every day. There is however a way that we can still make smart and sustainable choices when it comes to paper and forest products, and that’s by buying FSC Certified products.

What is FSC?

FSC is the Forest Stewardship Council and they take care of the forests of the world as well as the people and animals that call these forests home. They are the ones making sure the forests of the world are managed in a sustainable way so there will still be forests left for future generations.

What Does the FSC Logo Look Like?

FSC Logo

The FSC logo is one that I’m sure almost all of you have seen before but you might not have been sure what it stands for. The logo consists of a tick mark which turns into the outline of a tree. The perfect way to show this tree product is all right to buy.

What Does the FSC Certification Mean?

The FSC council provides certification to organisations or retail products that comply with the International FSC Forest Management Principles. This means that companies need to comply with the rigorous standards set by the FSC when it comes to the way they source their wood for wood fibre products.

FSC Recycled

FSC Lables for 100%, Mixed and Recycled Certified Products
The different FSC Lables on 100% , Mixed and Recycled Certified Products

There is also an FCS Recycled Logo which can be placed on products that have been made from 100% recycled paper materials. To get this certification the product has to be made up of at least 70% post-consumer reclaimed materials. Meaning the paper or wood fibre products must be from products that were originally used for another purpose than it will be after the recycling process. This means that you can trust that the product you’re buying with this logo on is recycled and not just claims it is recycled, or partly recycled.

How Does a Company Become FSC Certified?

There are 10 basic rules or principles companies need to comply with if they want to be FSC Certified, according to the FSC UK website:

  1. Comply with all applicable laws, regulations and nationally-ratified international treaties, conventions, and agreements.
  2. Maintain or enhance the social and economic wellbeing of workers.
  3. Identify and uphold Indigenous Peoples’ legal and customary rights of ownership, use and management of land, territories and resources affected by management activities.
  4. Contribute to maintaining or enhancing the social and economic wellbeing of local communities.
  5. Efficiently manage the range of multiple products and services of the Management Unit to maintain or enhance long term economic viability and the range of environmental and social benefits.
  6. Maintain, conserve and/or restore ecosystem services and environmental values of the Management Unit, and shall avoid, repair or mitigate negative environmental impacts.
  7. Have a management plan consistent with its policies and objectives and proportionate to scale, intensity and risks of its management activities.
  8. Demonstrate that, progress towards achieving the management objectives, the impacts of management activities and the condition of the Management Unit, are monitored and evaluated proportionate to the scale, intensity and risk of management activities, in order to implement adaptive management.
  9. Maintain and/or enhance the High ConservationValues in the Management Unit by applying the precautionary approach.
  10. Management activities conducted by or for the organisation for the management unit shall be selected and implemented consistent with the organisation’s economic, environmental and social policies and objectives and in compliance with the Principles and Criteria collectively.

The just of it all is a plan needs to be in place on management level that protects the indigenous people living in the forests and that minimises and restores any damage done to the natural environment during the cutting down of trees. This is why big papermills plant new trees as soon as the old ones have been cut down in the plantations you pass along on your roadtrips.

FSC Logo on a tissue box from Sainsburys
FSC Logo on a tissue box from Sainsburys

What Does FSC Mean for Us as Consumers?

The FSC mark helps us as consumers to buy products and support companies that produce sustainable forest products.

FSC Certification on Retailer Products

So, what does it mean when I say buy a box of local supermarket branded tissues with the FSC logo on?

Well, it basically means that your local supermarket bought that box of tissues from a company or had it manufactured by a company that holds the FSC Certification and sources their wood fibre products in a sustainable way.

Why Should We Buy FSC Certified Products & Does It Work?

Why Buy FSC?

This shouldn’t even be a question, but just in case you’re not yet convinced. The just of it is that by buying FSC Certified products you are supporting companies that are using our natural resource in trees sustainably, as well as helping to improve the natural state of our forests and the people and wildlife in it, around the world.

The FSC is also a global company with international standards and they are governed by 800 members who hold them accountable for the decisions they make. If you’re still not convinced, here are 10 more reasons to choose FSC Certified products.

An FSC Certified back scrub
An FSC Certified back scrub 

Is the FSC Certification Making a Difference?

In the FSC’s 2017/18 annual report they had 199 274 840 hectares of forest under FSC Certification with 807 Retailer Licences. Not only that but the FSC logo is now being recognised by more than 50% of the UK public (as of 2017). 69% of people in the UK will actively make the choice to buy a product with the FSC logo on rather than one without. The number of forest land being certified is on the rise worldwide and with the increased awareness on sustainable living, we can believe that people recognising and supporting products with the logo will as well.

From my research, I found both positive and negative sides to the “making a difference” story, but for the most part it seems that the Certification has been making a difference in tropical forests. For both the natural resources, and for the people who depend on these forests. You can read some of these articles here.

In South Africa

I’ve been aware of the FSC logo since a child and that is because the South African Forestry Company was one of the first to achieve an FSC Certification more than 20 years ago. According to the FSC Africa website, the certification has helped the logging companies in South Africa trade internationally and it is now one of the industries in the country working with natural resources that think holistically about their impact on both the environment and social structure. On a personal level, it is one of the few sustainability logos I had grown used to seeing on a number of products in South Africa and it is used on the biggest paper supplier in the country, Sappi’s, products as well.

It’s Up to US to Make the Difference

Although the FSC Certification is given to companies that comply with the FSC standards, it is up to us as consumers to make sure that the Certification meets its goals. The Certification recommends to us as consumers what the best wood fibre product are to buy. Now, we need to be the ones to make the decision to spend a fraction more, take a second longer when buying, to ensure that these companies who are doing the right thing can continue doing so.

Hi, I'm Andri. A 20-something creative, content creator, writer, reader, traveler, healthy living enthusiast and eco warrior! My day job is in digital publishing, but just like The Loud Library, I am full of contradictions. I love my bunny rabbit Olive, cows and sharing my journey to rediscover my spark.

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