Even in the age of paperless options for bills, banking and other daily transactions, paper is still ubiquitous. Indeed, the average office worker in the U.S. uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper annually, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports. (See References 1) Fortunately, you can recycle nearly all kinds of paper and cards, and the postconsumer pulp can be reused to make a multitude of new paper goods.
Recycling paper is a creative project that benefits the environment. You can use a variety of waste paper, from colored tissue to white copy paper, to remix and reinvent without adding harmful emissions to the air or water. Experiment by sprinkling in dried leaves, petals or herbs, and make sheets of different sizes for use in various projects. In three easy steps, you can replenish your supply of stationery and ...
Paper is so plentiful in the United States that it is easy to forget that making paper consumes trees and energy. Additionally, as of 2002, the pulp and paper manufacturing industry's total CAPs (criteria air pollutants) emissions ranked the second highest of any industry, just behind chemical manufacturing and higher than petroleum refining (see References 1, page 2-27). By recycling, you and your family can help ...
Paper has been recycled in North America since before the American Revolution. (See References 1) Today it is one of the most effectively recycled materials in the United States; almost two-thirds of used paper in 2010 was turned into products like corrugated boxes, grocery bags, newspapers and magazines. (See References 2) More than one-third of the fiber pulp used to make new paper comes from recycled paper. (See ...
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The average U.S. office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This equates to 4 million tons of copy paper used annually. If you want to avoid having all that paper end up in a landfill, you can work to recycle it. (See References 1)
Old road maps, wrapping paper and posters of your favorite teen idol often have beautiful images and graphics, and even when they are no longer usable for their intended purpose it is still hard to part with them. Give these papers a new purpose by making them into recycled paper bags for small gifts. Form the shapes of the bags around food boxes you already have in your pantry. You are not opening the boxes, so after you have made your bags you can place the boxes back on the shelf.
Paper cardboard often makes up the single biggest component in anyone's trash. (See References 1) About 90 percent of everything that ships in the United States is wrapped in some kind of cardboard packaging, so the benefit of getting this material out of the waste stream can be significant. Cardboard does not have poisonous components, so recycling is safe and relatively easy. Recycling also saves energy, natural resources and landfill space. There are two types of recyclable cardboard --- paperboard and corrugated cardboard. (See References 2)
Encourage creativity and teach kids about repurposing at the same time by helping them make recycled paper from items your household doesn't need or might otherwise throw away. Materials for homemade recycled paper include newsprint, nonglossy magazines, junk mail, used lunch bags and old documents. Assemble a basic papermaking device using old window screening and an embroidery hoop, or buy a kid-friendly papermaking kit at a craft supply store. Kits consist of a mold and deckle, an apparatus that holds paper pulp, allows liquid to drain and creates sheets with neat edges (see References 2).
Many of us think of newspapers when we think of recycling paper, but most paper products are recyclable. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that 86 percent of U.S. residents had access to either curbside recycling programs or a community recycling center in 2005; that rose slightly to 87 percent in 2010, so nearly everyone can recycle paper. (See References 1 and 5) Since paper accounts for about 35 percent of the municipal solid waste in this country and recycling saves 3.3 cubic feet of landfill space per ton of recovered paper, it makes sense to recycle it. (See References 2, 3)
Paper towels are a quick and easy way to wipe up spills, clean counters and dry hands after washing -- but most go straight into the trash and into landfills. This is because they're made of thin fibers that make recycling difficult, and used paper towels often contain bacteria from cleaning messes. Composting is the best way to cut down on paper towel waste; the process neutralizes any toxins, breaks down the paper fibers and creates rich mulch for gardening. If you don't want to create and maintain a compost pile in your backyard, many cities and counties offer curbside waste collection. For example, residents pay $9 per month for a 96-gallon waste bin and weekly or bi-monthly collection in King County, Washington.
The majority of paper mills in the United States are equipped to use recycled paper in their products and they certainly have a lot of material to work with. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than 60 percent of paper used in the United States in 2009 was recycled. Paper recycling spares trees from being cut down and reduces the amount of paper waste in landfills --- both benefits reduce the amount of greenhouse gases generated by paper use. (See References 3) The recycling process for paper is fairly basic, and paper mills are getting increasingly more efficient at reusing all of the components of this process, from waste water to chemicals (see References 1).
Buying copy paper containing 100 percent postconsumer recycled content results in many environmental advantages over the purchase of the same product made from virgin materials. The average U.S. citizen uses about 700 pounds of copy paper and other paper products per year (see Reference 1), most of which have suitable recycled-content counterparts with similar quality. By making a concerted effort to purchase recycled products, consumers can contribute to protecting the environment in a variety of ways (see References 1 and 2).
Fluctuating trends, coupled with a constant influx of factory-fresh merchandise, inspires consumers to indulge their instant-gratification cravings more often than not. This type of purchasing enthusiasm is certainly good for our economy, but the downside is that the objects we once held in high regard are ultimately kicked to the curb far before their useful life ends. Lamp bases are a perfect example of this, since they reflect design styles that ebb and flow, but with a bit of clever tweaking, they can morph into repurposed decor superstars that will be admired for many more years.
Americans recycled more than two-thirds of all paper used in 2011. Recycled paper is repurposed into a variety of products, including wall sheeting or drywall. Despite the availability of recycled paper, the United States manufactures about 15 million tons of new materials each year. Drywall that is manufactured using recycled paper instead of nonrecycled materials can help reduce landfill waste and alleviate some of the environmental problems associated with drywall disposal. (References 1 and 2)
Recycling paper represents an environmental success story. Americans recycled more than 63 percent of the paper generated in 2010. Most recycled paper becomes other types of products. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency explains that paper fiber can be recycled up to seven times, depending upon the type. Despite the prevalence of recycled paper, you can still find paper made from virgin fiber. The difference between recycled paper and nonrecycled paper lies in the papermaking process. (References 1 and 2)
Trees do so much more than add aesthetic beauty to our landscape while shielding us from intense sun rays. They also filter airborne pollutants and sequester carbon dioxide emissions, ultimately enabling us to breathe a lot easier (see References 1). American production of paper and printed matter, however, is responsible for releasing more than 40 million metric tons of CO2 into our atmosphere annually (see References 2). Tree lovers can seek out sustainable paper options made from pulverized calcium carbonate stone or assorted types of easily renewable plant fibers, or they can even craft an alternative DIY version from trash-bound banana peels for eco-inspired letter writing.
If you're a teenager, your generation will be the next world leaders, and your enthusiasm and energy will make a real difference in preserving Mother Earth. Now is the time to take on the responsibility that accompanies your environmental ideals. Environmentally friendly habits that begin in your teen years can become patterns that will last for a lifetime.