In the United States, approximately 60% of our landfills consist of disposed, waste paper. We throw away tremendous levels of paper, and in this, we either landfill or burn it at high economic and health costs. Yet, we can easily stop producing paper waste with a little forethought. Make sure you recycle, and be careful about the form of paper products you buy.
Use Recycled Paper!
Why not use recycled paper? Recycled paper prints well, looks, smells, and feels the same as virgin paper. Recycled papers work nicely in laser printers, and helps solve our solid waste problems. Plus, they cost almost the same, and you will feel good about using them because recycled paper saves our forest resources, saves energy, creates fewer toxic bi-products, and helps prolong living of our over-burdened landfills. The average American use significantly more than 730 pounds of paper each year, which is equivalent to the cutting of about nine tall trees.
Virgin paper production costs more in the long run due to the public expense of incinerating and land filling solid waste and the incalculable costs to the environment and human health. As demand for recycled paper increases, paper mills can make recycled paper at lower prices. It takes 60% less energy to manufacture paper from recycled stock than from virgin materials. It takes about 20 trees and 7, 000 more gallons of water to make a ton of virgin paper than a ton of 100% recycled paper.
Chlorine is often used to bleach paper. This process creates a toxic substances generally called dioxins and furans which pollutes our air, water and soil. Dioxins are highly fat-soluble; they accumulate in foods such as meat, dairy products, and mother’s milk. Dioxins are human carcinogens, responsible for an unknown variety of cancer cases. Dioxins are also linked to immunological abnormalities, fetal development problems and reproductive impairment. Dioxins can flow downstream from pulp and paper mills and can also enter the environment through industrial air emissions.
Which Recycled Paper Should I Use?
In line with the EPA paper must have at the least 30% post-consumer wastepaper content to be considered recycled even though there are many 100% post-consumer papers available today. Post-Consumer content in paper comes from end-user waste paper, which is important to recycle in order to reduce municipal solid waste. Therefore you should use recycled papers with the highest percentage of post-consumer content possible. Also consider using papers certified to be chlorine free so dioxins are not produced. We don’t need white paper for coffee filters, toilet paper, napkins, paper towels, boxes and other traditional white paper products. Ask the local stores and organizations to make use of unbleached and post-consumer, recycled papers!
Use Tree-free Paper!
Tree Free papers may be made from hemp, cotton, kenaf, grasses, or cane fibers and are often blended with recycled paper pulp. Tree Free papers are considered very environmentally preferable products. Tree Free papers save on our forest resources, use less energy to separate the fibre, are usually processed chlorine-free, and therefore are more pesticide-free. Tree-free plants grow in as little as 10 weeks, unlike trees that take from 7 to 20 years to mature. When buying computer or typing paper next, look for paper that’s Processed Chlorine Free (PCF) and contains at least 30% recycled content. This paper is an affordable, environmentally-friendly option to virgin, chlorine-bleached paper.