polluting single-use paper

Why you need to stop using polluting single-use paper

Dioxins are one the deadliest chemicals known to man. Did you know that they’re a byproduct of paper production? And something of an elephant-in-the-room for visitor attractions is polluting single-use paper leafleting.

Paper leafleting is used for marketing exercises, and additionally for providing visitors with site information. The big questions is whether it’s should now be phased-out? Sustainability is undoubtedly towards the top of every attraction’s to-do-list. There are great advantages in being sustainable. Not just for the environment, but also operationally in terms of reduced costs and maintenance.

A quick example:

At an attraction for instance, say paper leaflets are picked up by a family of 4. That’s potentially 4 leaflets in the bin at exit – multiply that by 10,000. Straight away there’s 40,000 leaflets for your recycling. Don’t forget the cost of re-printing and the time taken to arrange all of this. Never mind the sustainability issues you have to deal with in terms of waste.

What’s the alternative to polluting single-use paper?

Traditionally, paper information had been the only way to provide visitor information. But smartphones have brought us into a new age. The question is should you ditch paper-based visitor information? A certain generation certainly do love paper, and it does have its advantages of course. But unfortunately, that generation is diminishing now.

Everybody now has a mobile

The majority of active people now have their trusty mobile in their pocket for a whole range of reasons – probably too many to list. Now is the time for digital visitor information to be delivered via smartphone. The question here is whether your CMS responsive website fits the bill or whether a mobile app would be better? See mobile app or responsive website?


Click here to see the animation for paper production

Is paper still justifiable?

Your attraction may be selling a visitor memento, perhaps a glossy guide book for purchase. This is something more justifiable in terms of paper use and sustainability. It will earn the attraction revenue, whilst providing the visitor with a fine memento of their visit. Perhaps it will go onto the visitor’s bookshelf to be shown to friends and family? Having a cover price will ensure it’s not just binned directly after use. I think it’s correct to say that printed paper brochures used for visitor mementos is a fairly justifiable use. Essentially, it’s not single-use.

Still providing information via single-use paper?

You may be using single-use paper leaflets to augment visitor information at your site. Possibly because you’re trying to restrict the amount of obtrusive signage and labelling around exhibits or points of interest. Then it’d be worth considering the use of digital labelling and augmented reality. They’re great ways to provide additional information, that can provide a boost to visitor experience. It can also introduce interactivity and fun.

Paper really is dirty!

But there’s a more serious side to the use of polluting single-use paper for visitor information. That is to recognise just how toxic paper production actually is. By the time leaflets finally arrive at your attraction neatly boxed – the trail of pollution’s quite staggering. As mentioned earlier, Dioxins, are a byproduct of paper production? We’ve researched this subject area and produced a simple animation that’s an eye-opener regarding paper production – dirty paper!.

Comparing paper to plastic

What’s really interesting is the bad press that plastic gets these days. But did you know that plastic bags generate considerably less greenhouse gas than composted paper bags. And plastic bags consume just 6% of the water needed to make paper bags. Additionally, it takes four times as much energy to manufacture a paper bag than it does for a plastic one. Don’t think we’re condoning plastic here, it’s just that plastic gets extremely bad press compared to paper. This does make you wonder why? I suppose the issue emphatically relates to single-use. This is all certainly food for thought if you’re working on your attraction’s sustainability.

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