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Chimneys

Just reading about what wood goes through to become paper makes me think of the environment.  I thought that wood scraps went into making paper but that’s not true (or wasn’t true, things can change).  A tree is felled, limbs and bark removed before the remaining log makes it way to the papermill.

The wood is ground down and sits in a slurry of chemicals to encourage the fibers to separate.  The pulp is then treated with a variety of chemicals to color and give the final paper particular qualities.  This is not new.  Apparently various chemicals have been used since the dawn of papermaking.  I can’t honestly say how those chemicals affect the environment but the process has to make you wonder.

So I did a little research.  I want you to know that I got this information from the internet and it all had citations but that doesn’t make it 100% factual.  I don’t share this information to condemn papermaking or the use of paper.  I found it interesting and it encouraged me to look at my paper use.  Am I working to be part of the solution?

Rags (linen and cotton) are still recycled to make high quality papers.

Did I mention, yesterday, that paper has the longest history of recycling?

Every ton of paper recycled saves 17 trees which absorb 250 pounds of CO2.  If a ton of paper is burned it creates 1500 pounds of CO2.

Paper makes up approximately 35% of the US’s landfill waste.

Pulp and paper is the 6th largest industrial polluter in the US.  Of that, 66% is air pollution, 10% water pollution, and 24% land pollution.  It is responsible for 5% of all pollution.

Worldwide pulp and paper is the 5th largest consumer of energy, consuming 4% of the world’s energy.

Pulp and paper wastes more water than any other industry.

The worldwide consumption of paper has increased 400% in the last 40 years.  35% of harvested trees go to paper making.  (In the US, it’s 36%.)

The 16 billion paper cups used for coffee in the US in 2006 equaled 6.5 million trees.  They used 4 billion gallons of water and left 253 million pounds of waste.

North Americans use 58% of all the paper cups produced in the world which equals about 130 billion cups a year.

In 2015, 690 million pounds of toxic waste entered the air.  20% came from paper and pulp.

Paper waste accounts for 40% of the total waste in the US (equals 71.6 million tons).

EPA found that recycling paper (vs virgin paper) causes 35% less water pollution and 74% less air pollution.

Like I said, I found this information interesting.  We try to reduce our paper use but I know we could do a whole lot better.  I like to think this is a good reminder to think beyond an initial use when it comes to the things we consume.  I have reusable cups for the coffee shop but am I making sure I always use them.  Do I use reusable cups in most situations?  (If you want an honest answer – it’s no.  I am not that great about making sure I am using reusable items over disposable.)

This is just a chance to remind myself and others that we can do something starting now to make the world a better place.  Even if it’s just preventing one more paper cup from hitting the landfill.

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