"This business chose me," says Carolyn Moran, founder
and president of Living Tree Paper. Yet it hardly seems accidental,
given her buoyant spirit and "let's just do it" attitude
about things she believes in.
"We're just starting to feel the glow of success now, but
it was a struggle for many years," she adds. One major turning
point was Earth Day 2002, when Staples, Inc, decided to carry Living
Tree papers in over 1000 stores nationwide. "This was huge for us.
Staples' program was a tremendous marketing advantage for the year
they carried our papers on their shelves." Now Living Tree papers
are still available in Staples' online store at Staples.com.
A second turning point that year was when actor Woody Harrelson
became interested in the company. His influence with other artists
has led to important contacts within the entertainment industry.
"That has definitely helped our growth," Carolyn points out. "Musicians
care about the environment and want our paper for their CD booklets."
Already, Living Tree is providing the paper for inserts in CDs by
the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jackson Browne, Madonna and many others.
With help like this, Carolyn expects Living Tree's sales will increase
by a multiple of 10, and the company moved from break-even to profitable
A lifelong advocate of nature and living things, Carolyn moved
back to the land in the 1970's, to a farm near a salmon spawning
creek in Oregon's coastal mountains. "There were thousands of salmon
spawning every year there," she remembers. Years later, when flying
over Oregon, she saw massive clear-cutting, and wondered about the
farm where she used to live. "I went back for a visit," she relates,
"and learned they now have a fish count to track the few survivors.
Deforestation decimated the salmon."
In the 1980's, Carolyn became a self-avowed radical in the forefront
of the Deep Ecology movement. She did lots of speaking around the
country, participated in direct action campaigns, and in 1989 founded
Talking Leaves, a widely distributed pro-environmental magazine
Having seen clear-cutting up close, she resolved to publish the
magazine on the most environmental paper she could find. When she
heard of hemp paper and sustainably grown fibers, she thought, "I've
got to do that." She tried importing hemp paper from China for Talking
Leaves. But the quality was poor and "wreaked havoc with the
By chance, she ran into Carolyn Garcia, of Grateful Dead fame,
at a concert and mentioned her search for good quality tree-free
fibers. Carolyn Garcia recommended her for a grant from The Rex
Foundation, which at the time was using Grateful Dead concert proceeds
to support a variety of environmental and other projects.
With the grant, Carolyn Moran toured Eastern Europe and the Ukraine
looking for high quality non-wood specialty pulps. Upon returning
to the U.S., she met Frank Riccio, co-founder of Danforth International
Trade Associates, a supplier of specialty non-wood fibers and pulps,
including industrial hemp, flax, and kenaf.
A specialist in the non-wood sector of the pulp and paper industry,
Riccio encouraged Carolyn to start her own paper company and offered
her technical assistance. She gave Talking Leaves magazine
to Lost Valley Educational Center so she could spend the next two
years getting her new business going. Living Tree Papers officially
launched in 1996.
"It's all about saving trees," Carolyn explains. "No trees are
clear-cut" to make Living Tree paper grades, which range from 50%
to 90% postconsumer paper with 10% hemp or flax to add strength.
In the 50% postconsumer line, the balance includes 20% preconsumer
fiber and 20% sustainably harvested wood. The uncoated product lines
are 100% processed chlorine free (PCF).
Living Tree is a combination supplier/manufacturer. The company
imports hemp and flax pulp from Europe as well as some from North
America, and contracts with mills in the eastern U.S. and Canada
for production of post-consumer blends for Living Tree products.
"We do not compete with commodity grades like copy paper," Carolyn
clarifies. "Our lines are coated and uncoated grades of printing
and writing paper, in various basis weights for all types of printing."
Staples online (Staples.com) offers Living Tree paper for laser
printing, with prices close to other comparable printing and writing
papers. "If a person is shopping for copy paper, our prices will
be too high," says Carolyn, "but we're about $6 per ream cheaper
than high end cotton letterhead and very competitively priced with
other laser printing papers."
Now Living Tree is tripling its business in other markets as well.
For years, it has sold paper to prominent companies such as Nike,
Mitsubishi, Warner Bros., and Patagonia for letterhead, hang tags,
and other high visibility uses.
Carolyn says she has always pursued "an environmental vision of
a new world." She believes consumer demand will support the growth
of tree-free paper and ultimately transform this vision to reality.
Visit Living Tree's
- Gretchen Brewer