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Paper - Bridge to Knowledge But What About Trees? An Editorial

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Wellness related image Photo: Getty Images

I reached out for the roll of paper towels and tore off one big towel to clean the counter top in the kitchen. I stopped for a second, staring at it in my hand. Then I put it back in the rack. As I reached down into one of the drawers to pull out an old cotton towel, I thought that if every single tree that's been cut down had a soul, they would just declare war against humans for being so brutal and spoiling Mother Earth, which rightfully belongs to every single living being. I wasn't always this prudent and sensitive about this issue of polluting or going green. I didn't pay attention to all the green market campaigns springing up in recent years. I was like many people who don't pay attention to small things like buying and using paper napkin or picking up paper cups or using rolls and rolls of tissue in one single sitting on the potty.

Back in the days people used cutlery, fine china, ceramics, glass, jute, and cotton for daily household items. Pollution was at a minimum. Then came plastics, rubber, metal, and paper. I remember the early eighties when I first came to this country when Tupperware marketing and usage was a fad. After a while paper products such as shopping bags, grocery bags, gift bags, and packing boxes flooded the markets. Using paper products such as towels, plates, cups, and tissues became part of daily life. Most people do not have time to notice how our planet is affected with the making of these products. If we ask an average teenager what he or she thinks of using paper products he or she would probably just shrug and answer, "I don't know". Usage of paper products, like everything else, is taken for granted by many.

Paper has been in use for almost 4,000 years. Ancient Egyptians made the first paper products that were plant-based and called papyrus. In the second century B.C., the Chinese made paper out of fibrous matter. Arabs made paper in the eighth century. But, usage of wood to make paper did not come in until the turn of eighteenth century in England.

It takes:
--24 trees to make a ton of printing paper.
--6 trees to make make one carton of copier paper.
--12 trees to make a one tone of news print.
--1 tree to make 16 reams of copy paper.
--6 percent of one tree to make 500 sheets of white paper.
--1 live eucalyptus tree to make 1,000 rolls of tissue paper. Living trees make softer paper for tissues and paper towels (essortment.com; answers.com; blue planet green living.com).

It is not only the wood that goes into the making of paper. It is the chemicals, and the machinery that adds to the pollution that is used for the making of paper. Paper products that are coated with different chemicals for long durability are not all biodegradable. So they stay in the environment for a long time, contributing to pollution.

There are small ways to use less paper in our daily lives:
--reach out for an old rag to clean counters.
--save old torn out clothes to clean floors or bathrooms.
--use cotton hand towels to wipe hands instead of paper towels.
--opt for paper rolls that have selective size perforations.
--buy single layer tissue rolls and use them sparingly or have separate European style washing faucets installed near the toilets.
--use ceramics or glass plates in place of paper plates.
--use recycled paper products as much as possible.
--throw any paper products, even the smallest wrapper, in the recycling bin.
--use netted cloth material to wrap gifts instead of tissues.
--use cloth bags for groceries in place of paper or plastic bags.
--use glass instead of paper cups when possible.

Extensive use of paper products has become a way of life for us in this day and age. But there are ways to avoid them whenever possible and teach our children the value of a clean environment and going green from the beginning. Give life to the trees that give life to us. After all, we don't want our future generations to live on barren lands breathing carbon dioxide because, OUR LIFE MATTERS.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.