The Social Side of Sustainability — How Volunteering and Corporate Partnerships Touch Lives

August 27, 2019

To achieve long-term sustainability, all businesses must balance on a three-legged stool known as the triple bottom line: social, environmental, and economic. When all of these pillars are strong, businesses thrive.

Growing concerns around the planet’s future mean environmental sustainability is on the forefront, driving efforts to reduce waste, improve recycling, invest in renewable energy, manage our natural resources, and make the supply chain more efficient. While environmental sustainability makes a lot of headlines today, an often-overlooked piece of the sustainability puzzle is the social pillar.

Social sustainability means investing in people and communities, and operating in a way that makes lives better. That’s why Boise Paper partners with organizations like the American Red Cross, Box Tops for Education™, and the Arbor Day Foundation to provide support for communities across the country. But this commitment doesn’t start – or stop – at the corporate level. Take a look at the great things happening around our mill in International Falls, Minnesota.

To help offset administrative costs for the 2018-2019 school year, the mill donated pallets of Boise® X-9® Multi–Use Copy Paper – America’s Top Selling Brand – to Independent School District No. 361. Because we know (and research shows) that reading and writing on paper is better for children’s learning, the mill also purchased 250 folders and 250 composition notebooks to shore up dwindling supplies.

When the International Falls High School football team needed help, the mill stepped up, providing color-coded playbooks for the 2018 season. That donation allowed the Bronco Football Boosters to dedicate more money to team activities. In addition, the mill sponsored free admission to the homecoming game to boost school spirit and attendance.

Dedicated PCA employees volunteer their free time to mentor a high school team – known as the Chillbots – that builds fully functional, industrial-sized robots for the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®). Dubbed the varsity Sport for the Mind™, FRC combines the excitement of competition with the rigors of science and technology.

“FRC is a perfect program to encourage students to pursue science and technology fields of study,” says Mindy Mayer, a process quality engineer at the mill. “I’ve been involved in the International Falls program for five years and see firsthand how it opens students’ eyes to a world of opportunity and gets them excited.”

Investing in the community’s education also means remembering local legacies. In memory of beloved teacher and coach Mike Peterson, Boise Paper funds annual grants through the Mr. Pete Foundation for local teachers who want to enhance their classroom experience in new, fun, and innovative ways.

Speaking of fun learning experiences, on Earth Day, shredded paper, dried pulp, and wildflower seeds made their way from the mill to Falls Elementary School and came out as seed bombs! Students learned firsthand about the paper recycling process, the importance of pollinators and native plants, and the lifecycle of flowers.

Boise Paper knows there are a lot of ways companies talk about giving back to the places we live, work, and play: corporate social responsibility, grant-making, donations, volunteering… the list is long. Whatever buzzword you hear, we hope you agree that social sustainability boils down to just being a good neighbor.

“FRC® (First® Robotics Competition) is a perfect program to encourage students to pursue science and technology fields of study”

Sources: “What Is Corporate Social Responsibility?” Project Helping; “Why Social Sustainability Counts: The Impact of Corporate Social Sustainability Culture on Financial Success,” ScienceDirect; “Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR),” Deloitte; “Ethics Unwrapped: Sustainability & CSR,” McCombs School of Business; “Why Corporate Social Responsibility Is Important,” Double the Donation; “The PCA Advantage,” PCA; “3 Reasons Why Your Workplace Giving Program Should Include Volunteering!” FrontStream; “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR),” Investopedia; “Box Tops for Education,” Boise Paper; “Two Sides Releases Results of New U.S. Survey. Reading from Paper or Reading from Screens. What Do Consumers Prefer?” Two Sides North America; “Print and Paper Play a Key Role in Learning and Literacy,” Two Sides North America; “Why Reading and Writing on Paper Can Be Better for Your Brain.” The Guardian; “Boise Inc. – Wallula Paper Mill Rapid Online Custom Training for Safety Audit,” VIVID Learning Systems; “The Three Pillars of Sustainability,” FrontStream; “The Triple Bottom Line,” University of Wisconsin.

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