|UMW continues to press for chlorine-free paper|
Members of United Methodist Women meet with
Office Depot executives, paper manufacturers and environmental group
representatives in Florida. A UMNS photo courtesy of the Women's
Division, Board of Global Ministries.
By Linda Bloom*
Nov. 14, 2006 | NEW YORK (UMNS)
Despite occasional setbacks, members of United Methodist Women are
continuing to press companies to use and stock chlorine-free paper.
For the past year and a half, for example, UMW has used a
letter-writing campaign to urge Office Depot, Office Max and Corporate
Express to sell and use processed chlorine-free paper.
Now, "after several hundred letters," Office Depot has agreed to carry
PCF paper, according to Sung-ok Lee, an executive with the Women's
Division, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. The division is
the parent organization of United Methodist Women. Lee and other UMW
representatives met with Office Depot on Jan. 31 in Delray Beach, Fla.
Corporate Express provides paper to retail stores and stocked PCF paper for the UMW assembly in Anaheim, Calif., last May.
The UMW environmental campaign calls attention to the fact that
chlorine bleaching produces dioxin, a toxin that has been linked to
breast cancer, miscarriages and birth defects, impaired child
development, respiratory diseases and diabetes. Bleaching paper with
chlorine also uses 20 times more water than a chlorine-free alternative.
In addition to buying chlorine-free paper with a PCF or TCF label, UMW
and the Women's Division suggest using alternatives to other chlorinated
products that do not produce dioxin, avoid products with terms like
"vinyl," "PVC" or "ballistic look," and recycling paper, plastics and
At the division's annual meeting in October, directors added
Wausau-Mosinee Paper Corporation and Yum! Brands Inc., to the
letter-writing campaign. Wausau-Mosinee produces fine printing and
writing paper, specialty products and towel and tissue papers. Yum!
Brands Inc., based in Louisville, Ky., is the parent company of more
than 34,000 restaurants - including Taco Bell - in more than 100
The letters from United Methodist Women notes that each company "is a
trusted steward" and has a duty to make positive change. "A good
steward needs an eye for sustainability and an understanding of the
impact that the company has on natural resources such as water, air,
energy, recycling, toxic releases of chlorine chemistry, human and
animal health, greenhouse gas emissions and on social and economic
Previous campaigns for PCF paper with Kinko's and Staples met with
limited success. Some Kinko's stores stock PCF paper for people using
their copy machines, Lee reported, but said the chain was not
In 2004, UMW members visited more than 300 Staples stores across the
country to see if they carried PCF paper and then sent a delegation to
meet with Staples company executives in Framingham, Mass.
At that time, Staples agreed to work with UMW on educating store
employees and communities around the nation on the dangers of chlorine,
the dioxin it creates and the health effects of dioxins.
Since then, however, there has been a change in personnel, according
to Lee, and the cooperative educational activities never occurred.
Staples also stopped carrying the PCF paper after a trial period.
Still, UMW members realized from the Staples campaign that
letter-writing is a "pretty powerful" tool for persuasion, Lee noted,
and learned, during visits to the stores, how to have "a teaching moment
where you can explain what you're trying to do."
The Women's Division's "Green Team" helps educate local churches
about environmental concerns. Training for letter-writing campaigns
occurs during leadership training for conference officers, at regional
and conference schools of mission and at district training events. "It
really becomes a collective action," Lee said.
One Green Team member, Karen Hewitson of Lake Carroll, Ill.,
represents the denomination's North Central Jurisdiction. While CPF
paper and other conservation efforts are discussed, the jurisdiction has
chosen "pure water" as its issue for 2006, she said.
"Everyone has been receptive to this message," said Hewitson, who
speaks to school groups as well as church groups. "People are very
concerned about their water and they want to know what they can do to
conserve the water they have and make it better."
Water also ties in to chlorine processing and she passes along
information about environmentally sound products as part of the
education process. "When I've showed them the chlorine-free products,
they're really excited about that," she added.
The United Methodist General Conference, the denomination's top
legislative body, has called for "a dioxin-free future" since 1996,
based on its serious health threat to the general U.S. population.
The denomination supports "a phase-out of the production of dioxin
beginning with immediate action on the three largest sources of dioxin:
incineration of chlorine-containing wastes, bleaching of pulp and paper
with chlorine, and the entire life cycle of polyvinyl chloride (PCV)
More information about the Green Team and letter-writing campaigns can be found at http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umw/, the UMW Web site.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com .
Green Team meets with Office Depot
United Methodist Women meet with Staples executives
United Methodist Women urge use of chlorine-free paper
United Methodist Women
Green Team Campaign