As a writer, I don’t just like paper, I adore it. Yet, what if I had to pay the real cost for paper? It takes 3 gallons of water to make a sheet of paper. Then there’s the cost of the land and logs, the cost of the fuel to run the equipment to cut the tree down, the cost of getting the tree to the paper mill, of packaging and distributing the paper, of labor, and other costs I’m not thinking of, and the most hidden cost, the increased CO2 emissions because of the loss of the tree. If I had to pay, say $3 for a piece of paper, would I squander it or use every precious inch? (Hint: pay and conserve.) We have oversimplified many an environmental argument by hiding the true cost of bringing the product to market.
Perhaps if we stopped, took a breath and a pay check, i.e., tally our resources. We live in a time where denial has become de rigueur. It’s not effecting me today, so let tomorrow’s people deal with it. Yet our children are tomorrow’s people and what are we leaving them except a set of problems that have become near impossible to unravel, like the Gordian knot. If we have to whack it off and start fresh — given the intractability of some of these issues — it’s not likely that fresh is going to comport with easy-peasy. Somewhere in the muck of logging and deforestation is a solution, probably a more expensive one, yes, but one where people get to keep a job and the planet. It may not be the same job so flexibility is a bonus. However, without flexibility and thoughtful discussion, as opposed to the high octane verbal sparring you see on talk shows, there can be no consensus, and without consensus, how will the riddle of supplying ourselves with sufficient resources to fuel our modern lifestyle without overtaxing our very generous Mother ever be solved, but badly? Often it’s only in the absence of something that people finally recognize its brilliance. Unfortunately for us, there may be no one left to see the light.
There are healthy ways to harvest the planet’s resources while allowing Her to thrive. In the Pacific Northwest in the early1990s, clear-cutting was slowly being replaced with more sustainable harvesting techniques. That was because residents got a clear picture of what the future looked like with erosion and sedimentation runoff from the naked hillsides, extinction of both plant and animal species, and the degradation of watersheds and reduced water quality, to name a few, so they started speaking up, and more importantly, they voted — with their wallets. You think you are just one person, but you are wrong. You are a global force and what you think and say and intend matters. More than anything, it is the consumer that drives the marketplace and if consumers are clamoring for sustainably harvested forests, then that’s what they shall have. It takes a forest to house a complex community of macro and microorganisms sufficient to support not just life, but growth and it takes READ THE REST HERE.
Great food for thought. I try to keep my paper usage down and type most of my work up on the laptop without printing out. However, it is nice to sit down with a clean sheet and see where it leads…
I did a three part post on paper-making several months back on my Found in France blog, http://foundinfrance.wordpress.com However, it was all handmade paper, a number of different substances were used and the water, recycled.
Sounds beautiful! There is nothing quite like a piece of artisan-crafted paper. It somehow feels more real, doesn’t it? And it somehow enhances whatever word(s) you commit to it.
Thank you for sharing!