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EARTH-FRIENDLY PAPER ALTERNATIVES

Paper is made from plant cellulose. Historically, paper was made from cotton, hemp, grasses, and other fibers. Yet, today half of the trees cut in the U.S. are for paper. While most of us probably don't think much about paper pruduction, trees are not the most efficient source of cellulose for making paper. In fact, trees contain only about 30% cellulose. A few alternate paper fibers are discussed below:

Agri-puip Agri-pulp, made by Arbokem, is one of the smartest papers anailable. Not only is agri-pulp made at 45% agricultural waste 43% post-consumer waste paper, and 12% calcium carbonate filler, but it is acid-free, totally chlorine-free processing, totally effluent-free agri-pulp manufacturing. Considering the terrible pollution created at most pulp and paper mills, agri-pulp in impressive.

Price-wise, agri-pulp is competitive. Although it is more expensive to process it using the effluent-free and chlorine-free technologies, the argricultural waste used in manufacture costs about one-third that of wood chips.

Bamboo Other fibers can be used for making paper, too. Bamboo in one. Because of its speedy growth, it in a great replacement for using trees for paper and goes much easier on the environment.

Hemp Throughout history, hemp has been a popular fiber for paper, textiles, and other uses. As early as the first century BC, hemp was used in China's Western Han dynasty to make paper. It was milled in Spain by the Moors in the 12th century AD, in Italy one hundred years later, and in England beginning in the 15th century. In the United States, it was the fiber of choice for drafting the Declaration of independence and the Constitution. It was harvested as a major crop not only for paper bu talso for boat sails, soldiers' uniforms, anchor cables, and rope until the 1930s. Then, it became confused with marijuana because of their similar appearances and was banned in the United States.

Now hemp paper is available from a few manufacturers although the hemp is still grown outside the U.S. One cempany makes Tree Free EcoPaper, manufactured from 50% hemp and 50% cereal straw. Its shelf life is over 1,500 years as opposed to wood fiber paper's 75 years.

Tree Free EcoPaper is acid-free and uses hydrogen peroxide, rather than chlorine, to whiten the fibers. Since no chlorine is used in the bleaching process, toxic doixins are not produced. Because the fibers are relatively short and weak, paper from trees can be recycled only a few times; however, hemp paper can be recycled up to 20 times. Hemp also produces about four times more fiber per acre than do trees. Its fiber can be used to make other fiber products such as rope and fabric. The fabric can be woven into variety of textures similar to canvas, denim, linen and others.

Kenaf another fiber gaining popularity for paper-making is Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L). A relative of the cotton plant, kenaf originated in southern Africa and can grow six meters in just one season. This makes it a quick-growing source of fiber.

India was the first known country to use kenaf for making paper a century ago. Like trees, kenaf contains a material called lignin, which binds together the individual plant fibers. When the lignin is left in the fiber, the paper yellows over time and with exposure to light. Then, the fibers are separated manually or chemically and made into paper.

As with tree fibers, kenaf fibers are bleached. If it is bleached without chlorine, kenaf can be a less-toxic and more environmentally better alternative to paper made from trees. Written by: Amy Townsend


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