Paper is one of the largest contributors to household waste. Attributed to our habits, the United States is one of the biggest paper products consumers in the world; the average American consumes close to 55 pounds of paper products every year. Canadians follow right behind with an average of just under 50 pounds and Europeans tend to average closer to 35 pounds per year. Approximately 35% of trees harvested annually are consumed by the paper industry which equates to an annual count of nearly 4 billion trees.
The majority of trees harvested today are unsustainable, leaving behind empty land and stifling the survival of the wildlife that once inhibited the harvested forests. Another major issue with the paper industry lies with the way in which paper products are produced, using Chlorine Dioxide to bleach different paper products which releases hundreds of chemicals and known carcinogens into the environment.
Though energy is required to manufacturer both virgin and recycled paper products, much less is needed to produce recycled paper. Companies producing recycled paper report saving between 28%-70% of the energy typically used to produce virgin paper. Energy levels vary based on the paper grade, the way in which it is processed, etc. As technology continues to improve and procedures are refined, more and more tactics are being developed to reduce the overall energy used during the paper production process.
Paper products account for about 35% of the solid waste found in landfills. However, 3 cubic meters of landfill can be eliminated by recycling one tone of newspapers alone! An alternative to landfills which also helps to generate useful energy is the practice of incinerating paper waste. It was recently reported by the EPA or Environmental Protection Agency of the US, that recycling results in a decrease in water pollution by 35%, a decrease in air pollution by 74% when compared to that emitted while making virgin paper. Pulp mills, especially those producing pulp that is bleached, are often sources of considerable air and water pollution. The modern mills of today, however, produce a sizeable percentage less pollution than the mills of only a few decades ago. Not only does recycling paper reduce landfill sizes, but it also decreases the demand for the production of virgin paper along with the total amount of air and water pollutants released.
Making a habit or purchasing eco-friendly paper is not only more socially responsible, but it is also becoming more economical. Major paper product manufacturers such as Marcal are pricing recycled products at comparable or even less prices than other leading brands. Purchasing eco-friendly paper products is also becoming much more convenient as recycled paper products are becoming more accessible in major supermarket and drugstore chains. EnviroCitizen.org offers a number of different eco-friendly paper products at competitive prices for just about every need. Making the right choice is finally easy!