Do you think about paper?
We are all familiar with recycling. Cardboard, newspaper, office paper, telephone directories, magazines, and scraps from paper manufacturing can be remade into new paper. One advantage of using this recycled paper is that less paper ends up in landfills. The US Environmental Protection Agency reports that 28% of landfill content is paper.
|A bag of paper awaiting recycling|
Recently, I did some research for a resort. They wanted to know whether the paper products that they had been using could be more sustainable. Here is some of what I learned.
There are two processes for making paper products that are considered sustainable. These are paper recycling, and making paper from tree plantations using rapidly renewable virgin fiber. Both of these processes are recognized for LEED* certification, receiving equal point values. There are variances in the two processes, with each having different effects on the environment.
The use of plantations is an idea that took me by surprise. Can you guess what this means: Rapidly Renewable Virgin Fiber? if you guessed trees, you are right. The trees are used to make toilet paper, tissues, and paper towels for use in resort and hotel settings. Trees grown on these plantations are fast growing types such as poplar which produce harvestable materials on a six to eight year cycle. This helps to save our native and old-growth forests, keeping more carbon absorbing trees in our precious forests.
It's great to know that resorts are choosing between sustainable paper options. Now, if I could just get them to put solar panels on the roofs... -G.H.
*Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design- a program that documents sustainable practices for businesses and residences committed to protecting the environment.