Some of the environmental issues that arise from paper production and disposal include the pollution of air and water, high energy use, large landfill requirements and deforestation. To keep the impact on the environment to a minimum we need to change the ways in which we view paper products and begin to reuse and recycle these produces more in an environmentally safe manner. Some of these ways include the use of reusable grocery bags, buying products made from recycled paper, and using cloth towels and napkins instead of paper versions.
To really create an impression on the way that we reuse or recycled our paper products, we need to look at our every day paper consumption. Do you use a new sheet of paper to write your shopping list on? Do you use a cloth to wipe up spills or reach for the easy option of the paper towel and throw it in the rubbish? By choosing the environmentally safe option, the impact that you will have on our environment is greatly reduced.
Only half of our paper disposed is recycled, the other half is left in landfill and can take many years to decompose. When paper mills produce recycled paper they are using 40% less energy and not contributing to deforestation, although more fossil fuels are required in the process of creating products from recycled paper. Recycling paper into new products is a way of helping keep our environment safe and clean, the use of reusable products, such as reusable bags, will create a bigger impact on the environment and paper products will not be disposed so easily or the need for these paper products will not be needed to the extent that it is now.
Have you thought about the chemicals that are used in paper products that have been bleached and their impact on the environment? Bleached paper items are done with Chlorine, which can cause dioxin, a highly toxic chemical that can cause cancer and birth defects in humans. Paper mills release these chemicals along with other pollutants, such as sulfur oxides and carbon monoxide into our waterways through effluent polluting, contaminating our water and the organisms that live in these waterways, possibly poisoning humans. Paper mills are the largest industrial polluters in North America. By using reusable grocery bags over paper or plastic bags, we will be helping to minimize the impact on the environment that is created through the paper production process.
Finally, paper production is the leading cause of deforestation. To minimize this effect, paper mills should try to use virgin paper chips – wood from tree farms or old growth forests, or institute better recycled paper programs to minimize their effects on the environment.