0.00200408, yes this the exact figure which is required to make just one sheet of paper, this might look insignificant but if you do a little calculation, say 1 lakh sheets are to be made so for that approximately 200 trees are required to be cut down, significant enough? According to The US Environmental Protection Agency, the whole world produces 300 million tons of paper every year, roughly one ton of printing paper requires 24 trees.
300 years, yes this is the time taken by trees to disappear from the Earth if current trends are continued. Although no trees are cut just to make paper, they are used to make boards and planks used for buildings and then leftover wood is used to make paper, but the construction industry is making a switch to greener and renewable materials hence more paper production, so more number of trees would be required.
Eco-friendly paper products are simply papers made without trees or tree-free papers. A wide variety of alternate fibers to wood-pulp paper can be used as a source for tree-free paper. Some of the sources are as follows-
- Agricultural Residues – For example, sugar cane bagasse, husks, and straw.
- Fiber crops and wild plants – For example, kenaf, hemp, bamboo, jute, and flax,
- Non-fiber sources – Calcium carbonate is bound by polyethylene resin that is non- toxic and has a high density
A plant related to cotton called Kenaf can be used in making a tree-free paper, one acre of kenaf produces as much fiber in one year as one acre of yellow pine produces in twenty years. Fibers obtained from kenaf, hemp, or sugarcane waste fiber can be regarded as renewable fiber and these are found to be less expensive than the conventional wood-pulp fibers.
Bagasse contains about 45% cellulose, 28% lignin, 5% sugar and 2% minerals. The high cellulose content makes bagasse a viable fibrous raw material in the paper industry, after the depithing process it turns into an ideal raw material for manufacturing different kinds of paper, newsprint, etc.
India is among those countries located in the eastern hemisphere that has the mills to produce paper from agricultural wastes and they have been successful in turning wheat into the paper.
An Ethiopia based company is using agricultural waste and making 100% tree-free paper, the company procures the agricultural waste from farmers preventing them to burn their waste that would contribute to air pollution otherwise. Countless failures couldn’t stop them shifting from recycling to producing wood-free papers utilising agricultural waste without sacrificing the quality of the end product and benefitting the farmers eventually. They are all set to begin operations soon.
India is a country that is known for its traditions, cultures, scriptures, and literature. Vedas and Puranas have Puranic tales that focus on the Universal truth, that needs to be delivered to every generation of humans. One such tale tells us about The Gonds of Central India, inhabitants had to beg its pardon for causing harm to the tree before cutting it. In the olden days, people would pour ghee on the stump saying “Grow thou out of this”. The Physicians would seek permission from trees or plants before plucking the leaves or removing the bark. This shows the depth of concern that the Vedic society had towards Nature. Vedic lineages believed that humans are the preserver of nature and not the owner. Today cutting tress is as easy as applying butter on the bread. Trees also have a life in them, just because they breathe differently that does not mean they are non-living. It’s time we look for alternatives so that we can give some time to Nature to heal.
There are 600 paper manufacturing mills in India, the domestic production is not enough to cater to the ever-growing demand, hence India imports paper from China, South Korea, Indonesia, Brazil, Thailand, Europe, and the USA. China is the main supplier. Due to the COVID crisis some companies in India received their last shipment in December, the company is waiting for the next consignment ever since. So I feel now is the time to make the switch and start doing it the “Bethelhem’s way” which will prove beneficial to the Indian Paper Industry, Indian Farmers, Indian Economy, and for the whole of the Planet.
‘Let’s keep looking at the West and produce our Best’. Hence #1steptowardsaatmanirbharta. Let’s do our bit by spreading the knowledge around.
Remember people, knowledge is power and together we can and we will Save the Planet!