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Paper Waste and What We Can Do About It

With the influx of heightened technology, long gone are the days where you have to constantly tote around a pen and pencil to jot down important details.

Paper Waste

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Almost everything you could possibly need to write down can be done on a device, whether on your phone or mobile invention of choice. From calendars to reminder notes, you can just enter information to look at later. Not to mention the availability of online books, magazine subscriptions and virtual offices, most things that were once on paper are now additionally, or exclusively, online.

Despite these technological conveniences, paper still remains a mass marketed commodity.

Imagining a day without paper may seem almost impossible when you think of all of the receipts, flyers and miscellaneous paper products that surround a daily routine.

Paper Waste

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Paper is a perfect example of the importance in using resources wisely and responsibly. How much does paper waste add up? For example, do you really need to print out that entire one inch thick manual, when in actuality you only need and will probably only read, a paragraph or two?

Recycling statistics show that paper waste in the United States alone accounts for more than any other material wasted each year, at 29% of all municipal solid waste (Environmental Protection Agency).

Aside from landfill data, hoards of fertile and beneficial rainforest lands have been eradicated by timber companies in order to churn out wood chips to make paper. It is estimated that in order to meet the annual paper demand, suppliers use 200 million tons of wood, and if persisting at these rates this will climb to over 4 billion tons in the next decade (Rainforest Facts).

Recycling paper products that are purchased is still the better option, but many may not realize it actually takes more processing and chemical compounds to get to the finished recycled product.

Renewable resources for paper use do exist.

For instance, research on bamboo for use as writing paper has been done, with interesting findings. Sustainably made bamboo can be prepared much like the already existing processes used to make paper.

The fibers from the bamboo plant can be cut at an optimal length for making paper and made for less of the financial cost than using a wood supply. Bamboo is very durable and is also more resistant to insects when compared to wood, therefore needing less chemicals, unlike traditionally used trees. Additionally, it does not require as much water or nourishment and produces more oxygen levels comparatively, making renewable bamboo as a paper resource an option to consider.

Obviously, without paper we wouldn’t have the anticipation of physically turning the pages of a book, the enjoyment in studying the composition of pristinely folded Origami art, appreciating a child’s hand drawn masterpiece or even experiencing the eloquence of hand writing a letter.

The goal isn’t necessarily to opt for a completely paperless world, but to produce and purchase it more wisely; provoking a thought as to where all that paper actually comes from, and at what cost to the environment when paper waste occurs.

It should be about smart usage, on a personal and corporate level.

Paper waste

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