Paper accounts for as much as 27 percent of waste in landfills, more than anything else people in the United States dispose of. Cardboard and other paper products occupy 23.7 percent of the space in your trash can, and you may be using up to 10 thousand sheets of paper every year at work. That's a lot of paper in landfills, and too many trees being wasted. The need to do something is probably more urgent than you realize, but just what can you do? Read on, and spread the word about conserving paper, but please do so by word of mouth, or on recycled material.
What's Happening To Trees
Maybe you've got a few beautiful trees in your backyard, or even live near a forest full of them. Don't let this distort your view of the horrific reality: Trees are being depleted the world over. The population continues to increase, but the resources do not.
- About one half of the world's forests have been depleted.
- Approximately 18 million more acres disappear annually.
- Global demand for paper has increased 400 percent in less than 50 years.
Why They Need To Be Saved
While other land and marine plants also contribute to the planet's breathable atmosphere, without trees, the air would become thinner. Consider, too, that marine life is being impacted by warming oceans, meaning that source of oxygen is threatened along with trees. Realistically, there are countless uses for trees, whether they are left standing or harvested.
- Trees take away dangerous greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide.
- Trees account for 75 percent of the world's energy needs.
- Countless species call trees home, and are threatened without them.
What You Can Do
The United States lags behind other countries, such as Sweden and Germany, when it comes to waste management and recycling. Recycling paper for the sake of saving trees and minimizing landfill deposits is relatively easy, and the value of your efforts will stretch far into the future in economic and ecological benefits. Paper is also a lot less messy than other materials to handle. Starting with your shopping list (written on recycled paper, of course) you can change so much about the way you help or hinder the tree crisis.
- Replace disposable paper (napkins, paper towels, paper plates, etc.) with reusable items.
- Transition to online bill paying, and corresponding electronically whenever possible.
- Recycle your paper and buy only recycled paper.
How You Can Do It
Recycling anything begins with being aware of what you're throwing away. Most people thoughtlessly dispose of half-used paper, simply out of convenience. Take a closer look at your garbage, and consider what can and should be recycled. Also; teach any children in your life about the process. Not only will they grow up in the habit of doing the right thing, they'll also enjoy doing their part to help the planet.
- Determine the type of paper you're throwing away.
- Sort the paper according to how it will be recycled, or store it for single stream collections.
- Since a piece of paper is capable of being recycled many times, find second and third uses for yours.
Where You Can Do It
One of the primary gripes against the recycling process is that it's tedious, but you can probably situate the trash area in your home to something more suitable. A separate can or bin for paper only will help, and having it large enough to reduce the amount of time you spend on handling it also encourages more use of it. Virtually anywhere you handle paper, from home to office to fast food drive-thru window, you can stop throwing it out, and do something more useful and enormously helpful with it.
- Sell used paper to a recycling company.
- Use curbside recycling collection, and contribute to or develop a paper recycling program at work through companies like http://www.bptrucking.com/ .
- Petition local government if no paper recycling is available where you live.
It's often said that people don't realize what they've got until it's gone, and this would appear to be the case with trees. Given the current ability to recycle paper, and all the benefits that come with it, there's no need for forests to continue disappearing, and landfills to be loaded up with paper, but everyone must do their part, starting with you. Change your habits, and convince others to do the same; the consequences are too grave not to.