Experts have calculated that Americans throw out so much office paper alone that a year’s worth would stretch from Los Angeles to New York and stand 12 feet tall. While not done so much in America anymore, logging of the boreal forest in both Canada and Siberia is happening at such a lightning-quick pace, it is proving too speedy for many of the native songbirds that live there.
According to a 2007 report by produced by a coalition of environmental groups, known as The State of the Paper Industry. One of the most troublesome facts among the report’s findings is that the average American consumes more than 700 pounds of paper a year. Currently, the paper industry is listed as the fourth-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among all manufacturers listed, and thrown away paper accounts for one-third of all landfill waste. It was reported that reducing paper consumption by only 10% would produce savings equivalent to taking 280,000 cars off the road.
The problem gets even worse around the holiday season. That’s when Americans throw away up to 25% more garbage (five million tons more than the average daily amount of 3.5 pounds of garbage we usually throw away) between Thanksgiving and the New Year. About four million of those tons are made up of used wrapping paper and shopping bags. One website recently included a list of websites that sell cool, reusable bags you can buy that offer savings of some 12 million barrels of oil and 14 million trees that go just into the making of plastic and paper bags every year.
Some steps you can take to reduce the amount of paper made each year include cutting down on wrapping paper by reusing some gift bags or buying recycled gift wrap. Reuse cardboard boxes to pack things in whenever and where ever possible. You can even take a lesson from our grandparents and reuse wrapping paper taken from off gifts by removing it carefully, rather than just shredding it haphazardly from the packages you receive.
At the office or at home you can save by printing on the back of printer paper that doesn’t need to be used for clean copies you have to send out to clients. This option is especially useful for internal correspondence that will end up being shredded, anyway. One Hollywood production company has recently indicated that they reuse old scripts by printing new ones on the reverse side of old ones before recycling everything in the form of packing material produced from shredding old documents. You can also cut up used envelopes to make scrap paper.
Believe it or not, it is possible to find recycled paper products in almost all categories, these days. Other areas besides buying paper with a higher recycle content where you can make savings is in the form of paper towels, napkins and toilet tissue that is made of recycled materials. It may take a little work to find some of these items, but you can get your local stores to carry them. Ask for, then vote for this change with your wallet by buying as many of these products as you can.
The little changes you make will pay off in the end. Remember that each ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees, three cubic yards of landfill space and 4,000 kilowatts of energy. Your feathered friends will thank you, too.
Photo by: Willee Cole -