Using social media to trace your carbon footprint

A.D.H.    March 6, 2017

Up until a few years ago I never gave much thought to where my products came from. I definitely didn’t give a second thought to where my printer paper came from or whether or not it was recycled. To be honest, up until a few days ago I still didn’t think much about my printer paper but then I stumbled across New Leaf Paper.

According to their website “New Leaf Paper is the industry’s leader in developing papers with the highest sustainability and greatest impact on our environment.” Not only that, they aren’t afraid to show you exactly what kind of carbon foot print their paper is making on the environment with the help of Office Depot and a tool known as Sourcemap.

Sourcemap hosts a unique supply chain social network that allows brands and manufacturers to cascade questionnaires to 1st, 2nd, 3rd,…, n-tier suppliers and gain unprecedented visibility into the end-to-end supplier network to master performance and risk.”

When you scan the QR code on a package of their recycled paper, you are transported to a video which shows you the exact journey the paper takes to get into your hands. According to a blog by Andrea Newell for Triple Plundit “by using in-depth environmental and supply chain data, you’ll be able to see the paper’s entire journey from where it was initially recycled; from pulp making, to packaging, to its distribution route all the way to its final retail destination.”

At a time when recycled paper cost more to purchase than regular printer paper and was of a perceived lesser quality, New Leaf needed to find a new way to appeal to the consumer. By being 100% transparent with their carbon footprint, they could potentially appeal to those concerned with the impact the products they purchase have on the environment.

By showcasing the stops along the journey, it also allows consumers to trace any potential hold ups in the production, as well as all of the suppliers it takes to create the product.

Lessons for Others

While many manufacturers may use social media  to keep tabs on their supplies, traffic reports for their shipments and communication with vendors, social media can also be used to influence purchasing decisions.

Depending on the level of transparency you wish to have with your customers, tools like Sourcemap are a great way to show customers exactly what they are purchasing. This is particularly useful if you are trying to sell a product which usually fetches a higher pricetag (like 100% recycled paper) or needs to appeal to a niche customer base such as those who are environmentally conscience by showing the supply chain from creation to deployment. It builds the case for why the price is set at what it is and it shows just how much goes into something as seemingly simple as a package of printer paper.

This tool is also useful to raise awareness of companies and organizations along the way. By showing the entire journey a product goes on, it gives visibility to the mom-and-pop establishments in the small towns that help you along the way and also gives you credibility when a product is on back order.


Organization: New Leaf Paper
Industry: Paper products
Name of Organization Contact: Jeff Mendelsohn, President and Co-founder

Authored by: A.D.H.

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


Gunther, Marc (2011, February 24) Radical Transparency Amid Office Depot’s Paper Supplies. Retrieved from GreenBiz

Newell, Andrea (2011, February 23) Office Depot & New Leaf: Tracing Your Paper’s Origins Retrieved from

Hulkower, Bonnie (2010, September 26) Radical Product Transparency Via Carbon Mapping- Highlight from Opportunity Green. Retrieved from

Davis, Zach (2012, February 1) Sourcemap: The Crowd-Sourced Tool To Learn ‘Where Things Come From’ Retrieved from