Can't see the forests because all the trees are being cut down to make paper? Then you'll be happy to learn that a growing number of companies are producing "tree-free" paper alternatives. Here are some ingredients to look for the next time you buy stationery, envelopes, notepads, or folders:
- Post-Consumer Waste. "Post-consumer waste" is the paper you throw out or recycle. Buying paper made from a high percentage of post-consumer waste helps reduce the number of trees needed to make paper "from scratch." It also saves energy and keeps paper out of the landfill.
- Hemp. Hemp produces its own natural pesticide, and grows so quickly it produces twice as much fiber per acre as pine. Hemp was originally banned in the United States because it comes from the same botanical species as marijuana (even though it cannot be smoked). Paper, clothing, and other materials made from hemp are increasingly available from many manufacturers in the U.S.; hemp continues to be grown in several countries around the world.
- Kenaf. Kenaf, a cousin to the cotton plant, uses 15-25% less energy than pine to make pulp.
- Bamboo. This fast-growing grass produces 4 to 5 times the fiber of the fastest-growing commercial tree species.
- Agri-Pulp. Agri-pulp combines agricultural waste along with post-consumer waste to make paper.
- Cotton. Another new paper option is made from organically grown cotton that grows in several colors, including green, brown, and white.
Believe It or Not!
It takes 60 percent less energy to manufacture paper from recycled stock than from virgin materials.
Source: Save Our Planet: 750 Everyday Ways You Can Help Clean Up The Earth
What Else Can You Do?
- Select a good paper. If choosing bleached paper, select one that is either totally chlorine-free (TCF) or process chlorine-free (PCF). Bleaching paper with chlorine creates a serious carcinogen called dioxin. Chlorine-free processes use oxygen, hydrogen peroxide or other compounds that do not produce such dangerous byproducts.
- Save on transportation. Buy paper from the company whose distribution source is closest to you. You'll save on transportation costs and minimize air pollution from truck emissions.
- Use electronic media. Make greater use of electronic media and limit the number of E-mail messages you print out.
- Recycle! No matter what kind of paper you buy, and how much you use, recycle as much of it as possible.
- Encourage others. Share the benefits of using paper alternatives with friends, colleagues and associates so they can do their part to save forests and enjoy trees.
Did You Know?
The average office employee usees approximately 10,000 sheets of paper a year, creating a stack almost four feet high.
Source: Green Seal.
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