Alternative sources for paper

Supposing you just want to do less damage to the environment but still want to use paper. What then?

The most obvious solution is recycled paper.  But do remember that just because paper is “recycled” it does not mean that it has been used as paper by the likes of you or me and then turned back into clean paper.

Only paper marked “post-consumer recycled” falls into this category. Pre-consumer recycled paper means that trimmings at the paper mill are used and a fibre is made from them.

In fact there is nothing new in this as paper mills have used the trimmings to make more paper since the start of the manufacture of paper on a large scale, but only recently has the industry persuaded the government that this counts as “recycled”.

But the fact that such paper is not being used twice does not mean that you are not making an environmental contribution when using it.  You are using paper that would otherwise go to waste, and hence you are avoiding more trees being cut down for the paper you need.

Another approach involves using Agricultural Residue Paper which is paper made from plant materials like cotton, hemp etc.  (As I mentioned in a previous blog, the original US Constitution was printed on hemp since they were not making paper in the US at the time.)

With hemp it is the stalk that is used to make paper while the seeds make food and oil while some of the highest quality paper to be found today contains cotton (sometimes called the “rag content”).

Paper made from plant fibre is also worth noting although it might be made from plants where the paper-making element is a left-over from food production, or from plants grown just to make paper.  If you are particularly concerned about the environment you might want to check which you are using.  Rice straw, wheat straw, corn stalks, and sugar cane waste can all be used as a base for paper.

This sort of paper-making is of growing importance in countries such as China and Brazil, but has had little impact on the paper industry in North America.

But whatever the source of paper, you will need to store it and this is where we come in.

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