Steps individuals can take
Steps the society can take
Tree-Free Paper
Internet Resources
Sources for Recycled Paper

At least 40% of the trees logged are for paper. In addition, Paper accounts for 40% of waste. Currently, four billion trees are cut each year to supply the world paper demand.


  • The first solution is to USE LESS PAPER. There are many strategies:
    Every year, junk mail uses 100 million trees; avoid giving your name by entering contests or signing warranty cards, (the warranty is still good). Stop Junk Mail at http:// has a Stop the Junk Mail Kit which uses a series of pre-addressed postcard mailers directed to America’s largest mailing list and financial list companies. The companies targeted by the kit are the primary sellers of compiled name lists to direct mailers. By combining the postcard mailers with a 12 step plan conscientious consumers will reduce their unwanted junk mail by 90% or more. The Consumer Research Institute says that,every year junk mail: Destroys a tree and a half per person; creates 4 million tons of unnecessary waste; fills 3% of American landfills; steals $320 million in American tax dollars for disposal fees; uses 28 billion gallons of water for paper processing; Most junk mailers use inks with high concentrations of heavy metals like Zinc and Magnesium in addition to high gloss UV varnishes. These substances have half lives of millions of years; 44% of all junk mail is thrown in the trash, unopened and unread. In addition, you can conduct business on-line with direct deposit, automatic bill paying and on-line banking, and keep in touch with e-mail, copy and print on both sides of the paper, and install software so that you can fax directly from your computer without using a paper copy.
  • Recycle the paper you use.
  • Buy either 100% post-consumer recycled paper or tree-free paper.
  • Buy other recycled paper products including corrugated boxes, file folders, envelopes, tissue, and toweling. If every household in the U.S. replaced just one roll of virgin fiber toilet paper with 100% recycled tissue, we could save: 297,000 trees, 1.2 million cubic feet of landfill space (=1,400 full garbage trucks), 122 million gallons of water (a year's supply for 3,500 families of four). And we would save energy. It takes 60 percent less energy to manufacture paper from recycled stock than from virgin materials too.
  • Buy paper that is chlorine-free. Choose unbleached paper whenever possible. Include file folders, large envelopes, and carry-out bags made from unbleached paper. Buy products minimally packaged in brown, tan, or gray paperboard rather than bleached white paperboard. When buying white paper, follow this order of preference: whenever possible, buy paper made using a totally chlorine free (TCF) process. Look for TCF papers made from recycled pulp or "kraft" TCF pulp. If TCF paper made from these pulps is not yet available, ask your supplier when it will be. In the meantime, buy paper that contains kraft pulp made without using any chlorine gas, but with "extended delignification," "oxygen Delignification," or "ozone bleaching." These processes are elemental chlorine free, or ECF, but compared with other ECF processes, they require much less use of chlorine compounds. At first, some of these terms will be new even to some of your paper suppliers. But if enough customers ask for them, suppliers will seek out paper made using such beneficial technologies.
  • Buy wood and furniture with the Forest Stewardship Council label (FSC). (A database listing locations where you can purchase FSC wood in the U.S. can be found on the web at: Their certification is the only label recognized as "ecologically-sound" It means that the wood is not old-growth and has been carefully harvested with out damage to plants animals or people. Wood use efficiency is one part of green building. See for instance, Efficient Wood Use in Residential Construction: A Practical Guide to Saving Wood, Money, and Forests by the National Resources Defense Council. Efficient practices and materials typically can reduce the wood use in building a home by 15 to 30 percent. Currently only a small portion of lumber bought in the U.S, although FSC wood is growing in popularity in other areas, especially in Europe.A database listing locations where you can purchase FSC wood in the U.S. is at:
  • Eat less beef. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists there two things people can do to help the environment that are the most important. The first is to drive a fuel-efficient automobile and live near where we work. The second is to not eat beef.The primary driving force behind the destruction of the rainforests is livestock grazing.
  • Buy shade-grown coffee. Shade grown coffee farms are second only to undisturbed rainforest as the best habitat for migrating birds. If the coffee is grown in a mixed forest environment beneath a canopy of towering tropical trees, the shade limits weed growth and trees fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil, so shade coffee farming also requires less fertilizer and pesticide. The shaded coffee farm is becoming an endangered ecosystem, the trees are being cut for fuel wood and/or clear-cut to be converted to cattle ranches. This technification, (the conversion of shaded forest coffee production to open-sun coffee monoculture) is the greatest threat Buy shade grown coffee from See National Audubon Society Coffee and the Conservation of Migratory Birds, see See also Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center See


  • Use agricultural residues (the dried plants—straw--left in the field after harvest, which are usually burned) to make construction materials.
  • Support growing kenaf and industrial hemp for paper. Status of industrial hemp - Cannabis sativa-L, a species that has no value for recreational drug use, remains illegal in the US. The hemp paper that is currently available in this country either is imported or is manufactured here from imported rags and pulp. Because this species is one of the most versatile and valuable of all on-purpose fiber alternatives, the campaign to legalize industrial hemp has garnered increased support in the last two years from farmers and politicians. The American Farm Bureau has passed a resolution supporting hemp reintroduction; in Vermont test plots are being grown and half a dozen states are considering following Vermont's lead.
  • Create new markets for recycled paper. Creating more demand for recycled paper helps increase the availability of it. Recycled paper was rare and expensive until some major publishing corporations committed to using it, and in 1993, President Clinton signed Executive Order # 12873 calling for all federal agencies to use copier paper with 20 percent post-consumer content. Most state governments have made similar changes. A major obstacle to tree-free paper is our price and supply infrastructure. The small size of the US nonwood pulping infrastructure plus logging subsidies which depress wood prices result in relatively high prices for US produced nonwood paper. The retail differential can vary from 20% to 100% and depends on many factors: the point of comparison (whether to 100% virgin wood or to a recycled sheet), the grade of paper, and the size of the sale. The good news is that nonwood fibers are not intrinsically more expensive than wood: they can be acquired and pulped inexpensively if the circumstances are right. However, expanding the infrastructure for nonwood fiber production, acquisition, and pulping will be necessary before the price of this paper comes down generally. Incentives for expanding the nonwood infrastructure include: upswing in consumer demand, volatility in the wood pulp market, and mounting public concern at the continued use of trees in paper.
  • Eliminate timber subsidies. The US has given away timber in the national forests to logging firms worth one-half a billion dollars. They then have built roads for them at taxpayer’s expense, at a cost of nearly one billion dollars. These logging subsides keep the price of wood artificially low and make it harder for non-wood alternatives to compete. U.S. policies have made it profitable for the Pacific Northwest to clear-cut the last 3 percent of ancient redwoods, ship them to Japan for processing, and then sell the finished lumber back in the United States.
  • Help farmers and rural economies by creating local paper mills. Because of the high cost of transporting the bulky agricultural residues or kenaf or hemp, small and medium sized paper mills will have to be built in rural areas, near the farms that supply the residues. The farmers can create co-ops to own them. Current research and testing indicate that pulping agricultural residues is most efficient and economical at small, local mills. With state-of-the-art technology, smaller, local mills can improve regional economies by creating jobs at a number of facilities rather than centralizing them at huge mills. Decentralization also cuts the environmental and economic costs of transportation.

Making paper with Agricultural Residues

Agricultural residues are what are left in the field after the harvest. They come from wheat, rice, corn, rye, banana, cotton or flax. About half of the leftover straw after harvesting is plowed back into the ground, yet a significant amount of straw remains. Until recently, many farmers disposed of agricultural wastes by burning or landfilling them. Burning agricultural wastes causes air pollution, soil erosion, and a decrease in soil biological activity. Straw burning created 56,000 tons of carbon monoxide annually in California alone.

Turning these residues into paper are ideal examples of using one industry’s waste as the necessary raw material for another. Using agricultural residues does not require any additional land use and there is a lot of it. According to pulp and paper consultant, Joseph E. Atchison, there are over 100 million tons of cereals straw available annually in the US, more than 4.5 million tons of bagasse, more than 1.2 million tons of seed grass straw; and over 30 million tons of grain sorghum stalks. (X) These “waste” fibers blend well with stronger non-wood fibers such as kenaf and industrial hemp. Agripulp can also replace wood in products such as building and insulating materials, particleboard, and various grades of paper and paperboard.

Making paper with “on-purpose” crops


One “on-purpose” crop, grown specifically for paper is kenaf. For over 40 years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service has investigated more than 500 plants to find the best fiber for pulping paper. While hemp has historically been the most recognized plant for tree-free paper, the USDA has identified another plant, kenaf, as a viable fiber to produce tree-free paper.

Kenaf is a crop grown specifically for paper and can replace or be rotated into existing crops. It matures in 5 months at 12-18 feet high, yields 6-10 tons of dry fiber per acre (3-5 times the yield for paper from growing Southern Pine). Kenaf’s core fiber can be marketed for such products as particleboard, potting soil, horse bedding, and oil and chemical absorbents. Moreover, it's ideal for rotation with legumes, corn, sorghum, and other food crops. It helps to maintain soil quality, maximize yields, and increases bug and disease resistance. It has only a very limited need for pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. Kenaf is also low in lignin content (a "glue-like" substance) compared to wood, and therefore, is far less chemically intensive and far more energy efficient to process into paper. Due to its lighter color, kenaf can be bleached using chlorine-free agents such as ozone, hydrogen peroxide, and oxygen, eliminating the chlorinated compounds that create dioxin.


Hemp is the world's most versatile fiber. Industrial hemp produces the longest and strongest natural fiber in the plant kingdom. Almost any product that can be made from wood, cotton, or petroleum (including plastics) can be made from hemp. There are more than 25,000 known uses for hemp. The greatest future market for industrial hemp products is predicted to be automobile parts (industrial hemp is an excellent and cost efficient replacement for fiberglass parts). The crop's current largest market is considered to be foods.

Hemp is related to the marijuana plant, and even though it has no psychoactive levels of THC, the Drug Enforcement Administration will not allow the growing of industrial hemp. There is no federal statute outlawing the cultivation of hemp, just the DEA's insistence that hemp is an illegal drug. Hemp was originally banned with marijuana in 1937. During WWII the ban was lifted, and the USDA encouraged farmers across the country to grow "Hemp for Victory." But after WW II, the restrictions were reinstated.

Hemp is lawfully grown in 32 nations, (in Canada and most European and Asian countries) and in the European Union it's a subsidized crop. Hemp is easily distinguished in fields from marijuana. Marijuana plants are short and bushy, with many leaves and are harvested for its flowers and leaves. Industrial hemp is tall and straight, with leaves at the top of the stalk, and is harvested for its stalks before flowering occurs. Marijuana is grown widely spaced to maximize leaves. Hemp is grown in tightly spaced rows to maximize stalk and is usually harvested before it goes to seed. Marijuana would not be illicitly grown in the middle of a field of industrial hemp, because the crossbreeding between the two plants quickly eliminates the THC content in the marijuana seeds.

Hemp typically reaches 6-12 feet in its four-month growth period, producing approximately 3-6 tons of dry fiber per acre annually - nearly twice as much as southern pine. It grows well in a variety of climates and soil types. It does not need pesticides or herbicides.

Were U.S. hemp cultivation to become legal, only 1% of the nation's farmland would be required to achieve paper self-sufficiency. Like Kenaf, hemp production would also give farmers new sources of income. This income would particularly benefit communities looking for a substitute crop for tobacco. Hemp paper is longer lasting than wood pulp paper, stronger, acid-free, and chlorine free.

Environmental Reasons for Using Hemp

  • Hemp can be grown without chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers. Compare this with cotton: 50% of all pesticides used in the United States are used on cotton.
  • Hemp has lower net nutrient requirements than other common farm crops, since it can return 60-70% of the nutrients it takes from the soil when dried in the field.
  • Its deep root system is very beneficial as it is effective in preventing erosion, cleaning the ground, providing a disease break, and helping the soil structure by aerating the soil for future crops, when it is grown in rotation with other crops.
  • Every part of the plant can be optimally used.
  • Hemp requires little water and can be grown in all 50 states.
  • Hemp is a particularly high yield fiber crop. In fact, an acre of hemp produces more biomass than most other crops. As a result hemp can be used effectively in many applications as an alternative to wood or fossil fuels.
  • Hemp clothing typically lasts 10 years, compared with five for cotton.
  • Hemp paper can be recycled 10 times, as opposed to three times for most pulp-based paper.
  • Fewer caustic and toxic chemicals are used to make paper from hemp than are used to make paper from trees, it can be made without chlorine.
  • An acre of industrial hemp produces four times more paper than one acre of trees. From


American Kenaf Societ yhttp://

Co-op America’s Woodwise Program Consumer Guide is an action guide full of practical strategies to reduce consumption of wood products.

Environmental Defense Fund Paper Task Force Report

ForestEthics’ Paper Campaign

National Office Paper Recycling Project

National Recycling Coalition

Rainforest Action Networkwww.ran.orgworking to protect tropical rainforests and the human rights of those living in and around those forests

Recycled Office Products Co., Inc. They give a special discount for Non-Profit Organizations and Schools, as well as 100% recycled alternative Papers

Re-Think Paper At The Earth Island Institute's ReThink Paper campaign is a non-profit organization dedicated to catalyzing a transition to an ecologically sound U.S. pulp and paper industry. It works to educate the public on issues of wood use reduction and sustainable solutions. Their mission is "to convince the consumer, industry, and government sectors to rethink—then replace—current paper consumption and production practices with environmentally preferable alternatives."

Web-Based Paper Calculator


Agripulp Unlimited

Industrial Hemp Network

North American Industrial Hemp Council , Inc.

Rainforest Action Network - Article on Kenaf-An Overview at

Recycled Office Products , Inc.

Re-Think Paper Their web site lists the “absolute best recycled papers”‹ (100% post-consumer content, non-chlorine bleached.)

Vision Paper , has printing grade kenaf paper



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