Office Depot Test Markets Processed Chlorine-Free Paper
Patsy Coffman, a past president of United Methodist Women in West Michigan, purchases processed chlorine‑free paper at the Office Depot in Schaumburg, Ill. Photo by: Dana E. Jones/Women's Division
by BARBARA WHEELER*United Methodist Women Green Team members’ advocacy efforts have brought processed chlorine-free paper to Office Depot shelves in the Chicago area. Letters and visits from United Methodist Women members to Office Depot corporate offices moved the office-supply retailer to stock processed chlorine-free (PCF) paper on a trial basis at stores in the Chicago metropolitan area from now through mid February.
Office Depot is stocking Enviro 100 Copy paper, a PCF produced by Rolland Paper and certified by the Chlorine Free Products Association. The marketing test is limited to Chicago area stores.
Office Depot executives said the paper, which appeared on store shelves mid December, would be stocked for 90 days, said Sung-ok Lee, executive for social action of the Women’s Division. Future sales of the paper will be based on results of the market test, she said.
United Methodist Women has been advocating for office-supply stores to sell PCF paper for more than 10 years. This action is in line with the United Methodist Church’s environmental-justice policies. Most paper sold in the United States is bleached with chlorine during the production process, resulting in the creation of dioxin, a toxin harmful to the environment and human health. Chlorine-bleaching uses more water than chlorine-free paper production.
Karen Hewitson, a member of the United Methodist Women’s Green Team from Northern Illinois Conference, has been a leader in the Green Team letter-writing campaign to Office Depot. She also wrote to mission coordinators for social action in local units of United Methodist Women asking them to spread the word about PCF paper. She worked in her local church, Lanark United Methodist Church in Lanark, Ill., to garner support for the campaign.
Ms. Hewitson drove three hours from Lanark, which is in rural northwest Illinois, to the Office Depot store in Schaumburg, Ill., near Chicago, to buy the PCF paper.
“I see environmental-justice work as mission, and United Methodist Women is all about mission,” Ms. Hewitson said.
Members of United Methodist Women in the Chicago area are being encouraged to purchase the paper during the test-marketing period. They are also being asked to speak with store managers to thank them for stocking the paper and to share the importance of stocking PCF certified paper to the health of the environment and humans.
To purchase the paper, look for Enviro 100 Copy paper and the Processed Chlorine Free certification logo. The packaging is green and white. Office Depot carries an Office Depot brand of paper with a similar name. Enviro Copy paper, which is packaged in red and white, is not certified PCF and does not carry the certification logo.
“I sent emails to everyone I know in the Chicagoland area, asking them to buy the paper,” Ms. Hewitson said. “Obviously our letter writing helped to make this happen.”
United Methodist Women members in Ms. Hewitson’s local church are encouraged by Office Depot’s marketing test, she said. Her message for them:
“Keep writing. It is making a difference.”
For information on the letter-writing campaign, contact Sung-ok Lee at email@example.com.
*Barbara Wheeler is executive secretary for communications for the Women’s Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.