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Looking for ways to reduce the amount of paper products you use, and maybe save a little money in the process? Look no further...

How to choose paper product alternatives

  • Facial tissue alternatives: Whether or not you know it, you may be wiping your nose with facial tissue made from old growth forests. Disposable facial tissues have very short lives and cost a pretty penny for each blow, so opt out of trashy-wipers and opt into using handkerchchiefs instead. They’re garbage-free and won’t wipe out our forests in the process. Get one for every day of the week and then wash them with your regular laundry.
  • Paper towel alternatives: Break the disposable paper towel habit by opting for reusable cloths, rags, and sponges for everyday spot washing and intense spring cleaning, too. It can be as simple as reusing old T-shirts, but if you lack such clothing scraps, buy rags and sponges made from biodegradable, natural materials.
  • Paper napkin alternatives: Whether you’re in need of napkins for tonight’s dinner or this weekend’s party, look for reusable cloth napkins and put away those disposable paper napkins. Many eco-friendly alternatives exist today, and any cloth option is preferable to disposables.
  • Printer paper alternatives: Instead of printing out documents to read, why not go paperless? Read emails on-screen, send electronic letters and family updates instead of paper cards, and pick up e-books (online, that is) to enjoy some leisure reading. All are good alternatives to using paper products.

Find it! Handkerchiefs, cloth napkins, reusable cleaning cloths, and more

Using paper product alternatives helps you go green because...

  • It reduces the quantity of paper products you consume, which in turn protects forests.
  • It cuts the amount of organic waste you produce.

Americans consumed a staggering 654 pounds of paper and paperboard goods each in 2005. [1] Fifty-five pounds of that total was tissue products, such as toilet and facial tissue, paper towelling, and napkins. The paper industry consumes 35 percent of all harvested trees every year, accounting for the felling of nearly 4 billion individual trees yearly.[2]

About 93 percent of today's paper comes from trees (not agricultural byproducts or recycled fibers).[3] And the waste doesn't stop there. Paper production is an inefficient process; manufacturing 1 pound of paper requires 2 to 3 pounds of tree. What's more, over half (55 percent) of the trees used to meet worldwide paper demand are newly cut. In fact, a single sheet of printer or writing paper might contain fibers from hundreds of different trees that have collectively traveled thousands of miles, potentially from timber logged in regions with ecologically valuable, biologically diverse habitat. Only 38 percent of paper is from recycled sources, and the remaining 7 percent originates from non-tree sources.[4]

In addition to tree loss, the virgin timber-based pulp and paper industry is the third largest industrial emitter of global warming pollution, with carbon dioxide emissions projected to double by 2020.[5] It also uses 11.5 percent of the energy in the industrial sector.[6]

Additionally, paper and paper products make up about 40 percent of the municipal waste stream; that is, all the materials that end up in a landfill.[7] In 2006, that added up to more than 85 million tons of paper and paper products.[8]

Finally, the manufacturing of paper is a polluting endeavor. During the paper-making process, in an effort to brighten the wood fibers and guard against yellowing, chlorine or chlorine compounds are often added to act as bleaching agents. This process creates hundreds of chemicals that are released into the environment, including dioxin, a known carcinogen.[9]

Bleaching paper with chlorine also uses more fresh water than non-chlorine methods. To produce one six-and-a-half ounce booklet with chlorine-bleached paper requires 10.15 gallons of fresh water, compared to less than a half gallon needed when using a chlorine-free alternative.[10]

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