🎁Wrapping paper , 📝the written word, drawings, 🎨paintings, portraits, photographs, 🗺maps of the world. All of these things are made possible by the use and expansion of paper.
But with all of these gifts comes a footprint. A footprint that may have been sustainable and manageable when there were far fewer humans on this earth,🧙♂️but certainly not today when there are eight billion and rising.
Let’s take a look at just how big the footprint of paper, paper waste, and our demand of it, really is.
Of course during its early days, paper was made from things like hemp, bark, and other plant fibers.🌱These days, paper is made from something that is becoming increasingly scarce and more notably vital to a healthy ecosystem:
🌲46 million trees are cut down every single day around the world. (Yale) Every. Single. Day.
Now, this number doesn’t only come from paper of course. It comes from other 🏠wood products, 🌾agriculture, 🔥forest fires, etc.
Forestry, which the paper and pulp industry falls under, is responsible for about 30% of all trees cut down.
🤧Tissue paper waste in the U.S. alone accounts for about 22,000 trees cut down per day. 🌳This equates to almost 72,000 square kilometers of deforestation per year.🇺🇸 Again, this is just in the United states. This is one of the main reasons why we created LastTissue!
Apart from removing the trees that filter our air, the paper and pulp industry adds pollutants to it as well.💨 Both directly through 🏭processing and indirectly through its ⚡️energy demands.
Paper manufacturing and paper waste emits things like carbon dioxide and monoxide, chlorine (for bleaching), ammonia, and sulphur (for the pulp and fiber process). Nasty stuff. 🤿
Also, the paper and pulp industry requires massive amounts of energy for processing. And since that energy is mostly from fossil fuels, this creates even further unsustainable and harmful air pollution. The burden is shifted away from the company and onto the planet, or people that breathe its air.
💧The paper and pulp industry also uses massive amounts of water for the processing of paper and pulp, but also in the form of energy demand as well. Some energy sources require much less water than others of course.🌞🛢
26 million gallons of water is used every day in the U.S. alone just for tissues. The problem with this process is once the water is run through paper processing, it is far too contaminated to be used and cleaned again.💩
The state of replanting trees
While you can pretty much count on every lumber company stating all trees are cut from “sustainably managed forests”, it is rare that a forest is replanted in a way that will allow it to ever return to normal.👎
See, while trees are an essential part of forests, they are far from the same thing as a forest. We are beginning to see the true nature of paper and paper waste.
Most logging companies replant one species of tree in a line just like a row of corn.🌽 And we are left with a “forest” that is just about as biodiverse as a field of corn as well. Planting trees so close together prevents other vegetation and wildlife to grow that is essential to a healthy forest.🤨
Now knowing the impacts of paper and whether or not it is all that sustainable, how can we mitigate our paper footprint?
🤔The first step is being more mindful. What are we doing day to day that uses paper products and paper waste? This is the best thing anyone could ever do, is begin to be aware.💡
Once we begin to notice how we are using paper products and contributing to paper waste, then we can start to figure out ways to find alternatives to those products, or stop using them all together.
A lot of surface cleaning paper products can be replaced by something as simple as a rag. Or, if you’re looking for something more cleansing, the team that came up with FinalStraw is coming out with a FinalWipe!
For cleaning up spills on the go, 🤧wiping your nose, or the mustard off your shirt from your 🌭plant based hot dog, check out LastTissue!
For those who are tired of using so much toilet paper, consider joining a large portion of the world in switching to a bidet.⛲️ The folks over at TUSHY make a quality product and market it in such a fun way! Because for some reason, many of us are scared to talk about something we all do. 💩
Luckily, in the world of business and commerce, there is probably a more eco friendly option to the single use products like paper waste. All that is left to do is search out “reusable, zero waste alternatives to ______.” 🕵️♀️
Also, don’t forget, if we don’t even need to be using the product in the first place, it’s better to stop using it all together instead of buying a product that is marketed as “more eco-friendly.”
📚As this blog carries on, we’ll start to hear more and more about how certain products or materials aren’t as sustainable as industries would lead you to believe. 🔦While we will do our best to shine the light on this, it’s also up to you to look under the rug of these products and materials to see if they align with your values. 🙏🏼
Written by Aaron Burr
A writer dedicated to working solely with companies on a mission to help the earth and people on it.