The problem with sheep

When the Domesday Book was written in AD 1086 it was written on parchment (paper not being known in Britain at the time), and it took somewhere around 700 sheep skins to make the parchment.

Fortunately we tend not to use parchment these days – if we did the 250,000 odd books published in the UK a year would need 175,000,000 sheep.  According to the Daily Telegraph, in 2009 there were 30 million sheep. The Telegraph noticed this because it was protesting at the time over the fact that they all had to be tagged.

So, if we used all our sheep up we would still only be able to publish about 2% of the books that we currently publish, if we used parchment.

But we would need far more storage space, since parchment is a lot thicker than paper.

Paper actually emerged in Europe sometime around the 12th century, so in effect the Domesday book came 100 years too early to save the sheep. The next revolution took another 800 years to happen.

Although the digital revolution was supposed to remove much of the need for paper, this hasn’t really happened – which is why we have such a need for storage space.

But what we do now have is the option of tree-free paper which is more eco friendly than traditional paper and which is made from agricultural residues (such as straw and husks) and fibre crops such as bamboo, hemp, jute and flax.  Non fibre sources for this paper include calcium carbonate.

Of late there has also been the development of wood-free paper which is created from chemical pulp made from pulpwood (not technically a wood, despite its name as most of the lignin is removed and separated from the cellulose fibers during processing).  Wood-free paper is not as prone to yellowing as paper containing mechanical pulp.

But still, the paper has to be stored – and that’s why we are here.

There are more details on our website or give us a call on 0800 783 9516.

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