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Local Link to Celebrity's Paper Line

It's an international brand with a movie star behind it, and nationwide people are able to order the paper online, in part because of a movement that started in Asheville.

Staples is now carrying Woody Harrelson's sustainable Step Forward paper brand likely because the company behind an unassuming Biltmore Avenue storefront launched a campaign that encouraged it to.

"Back in 2000, Dogwood Alliance based here in Asheville started a public campaign challenging Staples - an office supply big-box retailer - to start doing a better job sourcing their wood and paper," said Director of Corporate Relations Andrew Goldberg.

The non-profit mobilized tens of thousands of people nationwide.

"[We] ran two years worth of public campaigns and got the public involved with protests and marches and flyovers, birddogging executives and showing up at meetings and dropping banners off of stores," said Goldberg. "And the company said 'We can do better'.

The campaign spurred policies from Staples, Office Max and Office Depot - three of the largest retailers in the world.

"This is a market strategy so that the environmental paper movement - with Dogwood - is building demand for better paper," said Goldberg.

"When somebody goes to their local Staples or Office Depot, they can find recycled products and it's because of the advocates here in Asheville," said Environmental Paper Network Director Joshua Martin.

The breadbasket of the country's sustainable paper movement - the home to two of the handful of companies pushing for greener, better-made paper - is in the heart of the Southeast: the largest paper producing region in the world.

The Canton Paper Mill is 20 miles East. It's a huge factory, pulsing smoke out of metal spires as it grinds wood chips into thick shiny cardboard rectangles that will become kids juice boxes.

"Driving by that paper mill in Canton and smelling it is a big motivator, seeing the Pigeon River change colors is a big motivator," said Martin.

"Woody said 'I go here, I boycott, then they go to another forest and they cut that down," said Dayna Reggero, who works with Prairie Pulp & Paper, sitting in a Carrier Park pavillion.

"Step Forward Paper is made from wheat-straw waste, there every year more than 50 million tons of agricultural waste in North America's top wheat-growing areas goes unused," said Reggero.

"When we have these other paper options available and when the world's largest corporations are buying that in bulk and investing in those alternative papers, then those are becoming more available for all of us," said Martin.

The wheat-straw sheets were launched in Canada last August. Since the brand launched in the U.S. on June 18, Reggero says sales have increased 700 percent.

"It's because of the Dogwood Alliance out of Asheville that it's even there, that people even see it," said Reggero.

To get involved or find out more:
Accelerating Appalachia
Dogwood Alliance
Environmental Paper Network
Step Forward Paper


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