Paper Alternatives That Can Help Prevent Deforestation

Around the world, about 27,000 trees are cut down every single day just to make toilet paper. Thousands more are cut down to meet the rest of the world’s demand for paper-based products. This has resulted in deforestation. The world consumes trees at an alarming rate, faster than other trees can grow to replace the ones lost. Forests house an incredible amount of species—whether it be a plant, animal, insect, or any other organism—and play a large role in providing oxygen and cleaning the air. Without them, the whole world will suffer.

Knowing this, several companies have found alternatives to tree-based paper. Instead of using trees, different materials are used for the pulp. The two most common and effective alternatives are bagasse and bamboo, but there are many others.

Bagasse

This is another name for the pulp of the sugarcane plant after its juice has been extracted. People generally discard the pulp or use it as a biofuel, but the fibrous pulp can also make quality paper. As a natural byproduct of the sugarcane plant, it is a great alternative to using trees. The sugarcane plant reaches maturity in just over a year, which is a fraction of the time it takes for trees to mature and be ready for harvesting. Bagasse also does not need the heavy dyes and chemicals that regular paper needs.

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Image Source: Public Doman Pictures

Bamboo

Bamboo is also a great alternative when it comes to renewability. It grows incredibly fast, sometimes growing two feet in a single day! It also does not need to be planted again and again like trees do. Once the bamboo is cut and the stem is still in the ground, its roots will keep feeding the plant. This means that you can harvest from the same plant multiple times without having to plant it every time. The time it takes for the bamboo to fully grow back in as little as three or four months. (It also depends on the age of the plant because older bamboo plants tend to grow faster than newer ones.) Bamboo does not need heavy dyes and chemicals. It also is worth mentioning that both bamboo and bagasse make stronger and softer material than trees.

Other Paper Alternatives

There are many other alternatives to paper, including hemp, straw, coconut husks, and even elephant feces (no worries, this one is completely clean and odor free!). In fact, Benjamin Franklin owned a mill that made paper out of hemp, and Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper. Also, the United States used to specifically grow straw for papermaking, but that has since fizzled out.

Conclusion

The point of this is to prove that there are so many different ways to make paper that does not involve trees. It would take much much more time to properly introduce all the known ways to replace tree-based paper, but know that there are many alternatives. Each of these, if used responsibly and sustainably, can greatly reduce the deforestation happening around the world.

Image Source: Pixabay

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Lacey Jolley
 

I love exploring, experiencing new places, and eating good food! I'm amazed every day at how well the Earth provides for us, and I want to return the favor. I hope to help others learn how we can make our world a better, cleaner place.

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