The Wise Use of Paper
Did you know that paper doesn't have to grow on trees?
Before 1900 most paper in North America and Europe was made from cotton rags.
The hemp plant was also used extensively in the United States until the 1930s, and today the Australians and French are bringing it back into cultivation for paper.
Flax also makes a fine paper, while Japanese artisans even today make the world's strongest paper from the leaves of mulberry bushes.
The ancient Egyptians manufactured paper from papyrus, a member of the sedge family.
The Bible is actually named after the Greek bi'blos for the pithy centre of the papyrus plant.
The best paper for the job is the least processed one.
Bleaching introduces harsh chemicals into the environment, and chlorine-based chemicals are the hardest to control or re-use. For inter-office memos, duplicate files and drafts, scrap paper is adequate. For external use, unbleached or oxygen-bleached papers are acceptable. Extra white glossy paper is sometimes necessary for fine art reproduction, and photographic prints. Highly processed paper is hardest on the environment.
Most of the paper we use in North America turns yellow and brittle within thirty years. It's a librarian's nightmare! The reason? Acid residues from wood pulp, bleaching, or the fillers in the paper. Acid-free or alkaline papers made with fillers such as calcium carbonate can last for two or three hundred years. They use less water, less fibre, and less bleach in the manufacture. Acid-free paper lasts longer and it's better for the environment.
Recycling isn't new
Paper manufacturers use the clean waste and unsold publications to make new paper. That is why recycled paper usually specifies the percentage of "post-consumer" content. These days, industry executives estimate that eventually at least 40% of our paper needs will be met from recycling the "urban forest" of used paper.
The sludge from recycling paper creates disposal problems. It takes eighty tons of waste paper to make sixty tons of recycled paper. Paper fibres can be recycled four to seven times before the fibres become too short and wash away in the sludge. Sludge can be toxic because of ink and other additives. One benefit of unbleached paper is that it does not add organochlorine compounds to the sludge.
Graphic design can make recycling easier
Bindings: Paper clips are easy to remove. Large metal or plastic
bindings require extra work.
You Are Practising Wise Paper Use When You:
We are using more and more paper in the world every year, and this growth is not sustainable. We have to do more with less.
Photocopiers make a difference.
If you buy or lease a photocopier, be sure to get one that:
For more information