1. Trees also play an integral role in our world economies and development; we process them for logging, construction, paper and numerous wood products, and various pharmaceutical industry products.
  2. Deforestation is the process of clearing, thinning or destroying forests. The process can occur naturally as a result of fire; however, the primary cause of deforestation is human activity, typically for the purposes of commercial agriculture, development and logging.
  3. The removal of trees — particularly through deforestation, eliminates an estimated 46 to 58 thousand square miles of trees every year — the equivalent of about 36 football fields per minute.
  4. Deforestation is largely a byproduct of human population growth. The United States, for example, experienced intense deforestation between 1600 and 1900.
  5. The rate of deforestation in the United States has slowed in recent years, but it remains both a national and global environmental threat. This has led to the formation of numerous nonprofit organizations and global initiatives focused on preventing deforestation. The United Nations' REDD+ initiative, for example, incentivizes developing nations to maintain and protect their forests.
  6. When buying wood-based products, make sure they're certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). FSC-certified products are sourced from forests that are maintained in a sustainable way, which means, among other things, that trees are actively replenished in these areas. 
  7. Be cautious when buying food products that may come from deforested plantations, especially soy, hearts of palm/palm oil, coffee, rice and sugar cane. 
  8. Remember that commercial agriculture, including cattle farms, are a major driver of deforestation, so even avoiding meat a few times a week can help make an impact. 
  9. On an individual level, reducing your use of wood-based products, like various paper products, is the single best way to fight deforestation. Avoid items such as paper plates and napkins, and only use printer paper when absolutely necessary.
  10. When you must use paper and wood products, be sure to recycle them when they are no longer needed. 
  11. Today, commercial agriculture is the single biggest culprit. In fact, most of the world's crops are grown on land that was once covered by forests.
  12. Additional drivers of deforestation include the development of housing and infrastructure, commercial logging, and the production of paper and other wood products.
  13. The actual process of removing trees contributes to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. According to an article in The Guardian, about "10-20% of global greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to deforestation each year" because trees are usually not replaced with anything that can absorb as much CO2. This problem is compounded when forests are cleared by intentional burning — a process known as "slash and burn."
  14. Deforestation is happening at the fastest rate in tropical regions like the Amazon rainforest, but the process occurs all over the world, making it one of the greatest issues impacting global land use today. Deforestation is currently most problematic in the Amazon, Southeast Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and in North American old-growth forests
  15. Widespread clearing of trees devastates the plant life and animals living within forested regions, where many species have become critically endangered or extinct as a result of deforestation. Some of the most high profile species affected include pandas, orangutans, tigers, rhinoceroses, elephants, chimpanzees and gorillas.
  16. When deforestation occurs, species that rely on forested habitats are pushed out into other areas in which they are unable to adapt, which contributes to their extinction or leads to changes in other ecosystems as species are forced to migrate. 
  17. Similarly, deforestation hurts the livelihood of human cultures as communities of people that live within, and depend on, forests are forced out of their homes and away from their traditional ways of life.
  18. As trees return water vapor to the atmosphere, their removal can also create dry, desert-like conditions and increase the flammability of trees that remain in these areas. 
  19. Like most plant life, trees use photosynthesis to absorb sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide, and produce carbohydrates to continue to fuel growth. As a byproduct of the photosynthesis process, they also release oxygen back into the atmosphere.
  20. Trees play an essential role in our environment by adding oxygen to the atmosphere and taking in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants, thereby helping to moderate the climate.
  21. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, in just one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the amount of CO2 produced by a car driven 26,000 miles.
  22. Although carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound, it is a greenhouse gas that contributes to the warming of the Earth; increasingly high levels are contributing to climate change, adversely affecting ecosystems around the globe.
  23.  With more than 80,000 species around the world, trees also provide food, medicine, shelter and nesting places to humans, wildlife and numerous other organisms, thus supporting biodiversity and facilitating the health of the ecosystem.
  24. Reciprocally, greater biodiversity also benefits the trees. Insects and animals help to disperse seeds, pollinate plants and grow more trees. Various wildlife helps to control insect and animal populations that, unchecked, could be detrimental to the health of the forest. Even rodents and worms do their part by aerating the soil and recycling nutrients.
  25. Different species of trees each support their unique microclimates and habitats. Everything from the roots to the canopy work together with the rest of the ecosystem to benefit the specific environment where those trees grow.
  26. For example, a tree will absorb an ideal amount of water from the ground, helping to prevent severe flooding, runoff of soil nutrients or landslides. By absorbing rainwater and pollutants, trees help to keep our drinking water clean too.
  27. By absorbing pollutants and adding organic matter back to the soil, trees also help to keep our drinking water clean.
  28. Reducing demand for paper and wood products by reducing consumption of them is perhaps the easiest way to do this. 
  29. Reducing demand for agricultural products that come from largely deforested areas — palm oil, soy, and coffee are some prime examples — is another good way to make a difference.  
  30. Try to avoid buying or using unnecessary paper products, such as paper plates, cups, napkins and bags. When you must use printer paper, make the most of it by printing on both sides and expanding the margins. 
  31. When you must buy paper and wood products, make sure they're made from responsibly sourced materials. Look for products that are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified, which means the products are made from wood sourced from sustainably managed forests.
  32. Reuse your paper and wood products as much as possible. If you must discard something, recycle it, rather than throwing it away.
  33. Support organizations and initiatives that plant trees and replenish and protect forests responsibility. The Arbor Day Foundation, American Forests and the U.S. Forest Service are just a few organizations that support sustainably managed forests and offer ways to plant various species of trees in habitats where they will be most beneficial.
  34. Paper production has grown exponentially, with 400 million tons produced in 2012. 
  35. With this rise in production, there has been an accompanying spike in paper-related waste. EPA estimates that in 2012, paper accounted for 27.4 percent of all municipal solid waste in the U.S., at 68.62 million tons.
  36. Paper begins its life as wood, either from a tree that is newly felled, or from wood scraps from lumber processing (this is referred to as pre-consumer waste). Paper that's made from all newly-felled wood, rather than from any recycled materials, is called “virgin fiber paper”.
  37. The wood is processed into chips, and then further processed into pulp, a watery mush. In many cases the pulp is then bleached using chlorine, so that the final paper product is a brighter color, like the bright white paper available for printing at home. 
  38. Incidentally, chlorine can be harmful to the environment, so when you're buying paper you might consider paper labeled “Elemental Chlorine Free” [ECF], "Processed Chlorine Free" [PCF] or “Totally Chlorine Free” [TCF], all of which indicate the use of more benign chemicals than chlorine — a definite check in the pros column.
  39. After the pulp is made, it is sprayed onto screens, which allows the water to drain off and the fibrous strands to bond to each other. The mat that forms is then rolled; first between felt cylinders to remove more water, and then through rollers that bond the fibers to each other and create the uniform thinness of a sheet of paper.
  40. After the pulp is made, it is sprayed ontoOnce the tree has been turned into paper, it is rolled onto huge reels (sometimes weighing up to 3 tons!) and then transferred to a converter, which trims paper to different sizes — like your standard eight-and-a-half-by-eleven printer paper — before distributing it to printers and stores. screens, which allows the water to drain off and the fibrous strands to bond to each other. 
  41. The mat that forms is then rolled; first between felt cylinders to remove more water, and then through rollers that bond the fibers to each other and create the uniform thinness of a sheet of paper.
  42. At this point in the cycle, paper’s future lies in consumers’ (our!) hands:
  43. Paper is highly recyclable and is typically collected in one of three forms.
    1. “Mill broke” paper refers to waste and trimmings incurred in the paper manufacturing process. This material is collected during the paper manufacturing process and recycled internally at the paper mill.
    2. “Pre-consumer” paper waste refers to products that have completed the manufacturing process but were not sold for consumer use.
    3. “Post-consumer” paper waste is the category most consumers are familiar with, which includes any paper product that has been used and discarded.
  44. Paper can also be easily contaminated. Paper that has been wet or soiled with grease or other residues is not recyclable and could ruin a batch of pulp.
  45. After the paper is purchased and used, most of it ends up in the recycling bin — Americans are pretty responsible when it comes to recycling paper. Of all the paper consumed in the U.S. in 2012, 65.1% was recovered for recycling — that's about 327 pounds of paper recovered for each person in the U.S. — while only 8% of all plastic consumed was recovered for recycling. What’s more, the amount of paper being recycled is on the rise.
  46. As the recycled paper is collected, it is taken to a recycling facility where it is separated by type — newspaper, cardboard, office, et cetera — so that paper mills can then use the specific types of paper to make different products. 
  47. The different types of paper collected for recycling are not only used to make new paper, but also to make masking tape, bandages, car insulation, hospital gowns, globes, and more.
  48. Once separated, the paper is made into pulp again, reverting the paper to its original cellulose fibers. The paper pulp is cleaned of contaminants like glue or staples by being pushed through screens and spun in centrifugal spinners.
  49. To remove the ink from paper during the recycling process, the pulp is put through washing and flotation processes with a certain type of soap. The ink, too, is often repurposed: It can be burned for energy or used to make gravel. 
  50. The recycled-paper pulp might then be mixed with some virgin fiber, or sawdust from lumber mills, which helps to make recycled papers stronger and smoother.
  51. Now the newly-recycled paper re-enters the same cycle it went through back when it was virgin-fiber paper
  52. The pulp mixture is again sprayed onto screens, dried, rolled, and delivered to different distribution points. This paper, made from paper recycled by households — not just paper-mill scraps — is called “post-consumer waste [PCW] recycled paper”. Each time paper re-enters the cycle, the fibers in the paper become a little bit shorter and weaker. The fibers from that first sheet of virgin-fiber paper can usually go through the recycling process up to seven times — which means paper can have seven lives. 
  53. At 68.6 million lbs. per year, paper is the biggest part of our MSW and the material we recycle most. That’s great news! But not all paper should go in the bin. Limit contamination by keeping the following products out of the recycling.
  54. As most paper is sourced from wood, recycling used paper creates a significant protection for the environment in the form of reduced demand for logging, thereby significantly reducing the related emissions and environmental impacts from the logging industry.
  55. As much as 50% of landfill space is currently occupied by paper waste, much of which is contaminated paper, and not recyclable, but some of which could have been recycled.
  56. In America nearly 67% of discarded paper gets turned into new products! Every time paper goes from the recycling cart or bin to the MRF, its fibers get broken down into a pulp that is used to make new products.
  57. As much as technology surrounds us, we are far from being a paperless society — from sales receipts to instruction manuals to children’s homework, paper is an intrinsic part of our society. Fortunately, paper is also fairly easy to recycle, and comes from a renewable (albeit slowly renewable) resource.
  58. After paper fibers get recycled multiple times, their fibers are so short that they essentially “disappear.” Despite current recovery rates, there simply isn’t enough recycled fiber to go around.
  59. Paper production would halt within months if no new fiber was added into the system? That’s why sourcing from responsibly managed forests is so important.
  60. Purchasing sustainable paper products, using them responsibly and recycling when we’re done can help reduce the pressure put on forests.
  61. The longer the paper fiber, the stronger the product. For example, a tissue has short fibers, making it soft and brittle. Every time paper fibers get recycled, they get shortened a little bit more.
  62. Paper can only be recycled between 5 and 7 times before its fibers break down. It’s impossible for you to keep count, but you can keep in mind that paper isn’t infinitely recyclable. (That’s why we still need virgin fibers.)
  63. Most paper recycling facilities can handle incidental bits and bobs like the envelope windows and staples (however, it is always best to check with your waste hauler to verify, since processing capabilities vary from place to place)
  64. During the recycling process, paper is broken down into a pulp and the items that don’t belong are filtered out. The materials filtered out of the pulp are discarded, so whether you remove the window from the envelope yourself or let the facility do it for you, that little piece of plastic (often polystyrene film) is probably ending up in a landfill.
  65. Tt’s important to make sure paper and cardboard are as dry as possible to protect their recyclability. Also make sure the paper is clean, without food contamination.
  66. The best way to protect paper recycling from the external harmful elements is to use a recycling bin with a lid, if they’re available.
  67. Despite best intentions, sometimes the recycling will end up getting rained on. Paper recycling processors know this, and they expect some moisture to get in even as they work to minimize it. Just do your best to keep your recyclables protected
  68. When it comes to putting paper in your recycling bin, there generally isn’t a minimum required size for the paper. However, shredded or small pieces of paper may not be recyclable because the paper fibers might be too short to be made into new products. Before you put shredded or small pieces of paper in your recycling bin, consider reusing it or composting it instead.
  69. The ability to recycle paper and a piece of paper’s structural integrity depend heavily on the length of its fibers. As paper is shredded, pulped, and processed during recycling, its fibers get shorter and less flexible — so when new paper is made from recycled paper fibers, some amount of virgin wood pulp is often added in order to help reinforce the material’s strength.
  70. As paper fibers are recycled more times, they become less useful for certain purposes. The high-quality office paper you use in your printer requires the strength and flexibility of longer fibers, meaning it usually has to be made from paper fibers that have only undergone the recycling process a few times. 
  71. Items like newsprint, tissue paper, wrapping paper, and pressed cardboard can more easily be produced from lower-quality fibers that have been through several recycling lives already.
  72. High-quality office paper is under-recycled compared to the overall paper recycling rate. Only about half of the office paper we use makes it to the recycling plant, even though in the US, 66.8 percent of all paper was recovered for recycling in 2015
  73. If you’ve got office paper, recycle it! (Unless it’s shredded napkins, paper towels, tissues, and tissue paper are made from much lower quality material and are rarely recyclable. This goes double (for them and other contaminated paper products) if they’re already contaminated with food, liquid, or glitter and the like. So the recycling bin is a no-go for all, but the compost pile is a better choice.
  74. While paper can’t be recycled forever, the longer you can prevent the harvesting of more trees, the better.
  75. A paper bag can hold 50–400% more than a plastic bag (depending on how it’s packed), meaning you could use fewer paper bags overall. 
  76. There are significant drawbacks when it comes to plastic bag disposal, as well. Despite being recyclable — and requiring less energy to be recycled than paper bags — plastic bags are not accepted by most curbside waste haulers, because they get tangled in MRF machinery, and as of a 2009 report from the EPA, only 6.1% of plastic bags are recovered for recycling. 
  77. While plastic bags photodegrade, scientists have predicted it takes 500 years for that to happen, and as it does, they leach harmful chemicals into the environment. 
  78. Neither plastic nor paper bags fare well in landfills. But paper bags can be easily recycled through many curbside recycling programs (as long as they are not contaminated with food grease), and as litter or compost, paper bags take only one month to biodegrade.
  79. the best choice would be to bring your own reusable bags to the store with you when shopping.
  80. Being the environmentally conscious person you are, if you opt for plastic, you would recycle the plastic bags after you used them by taking them to the collection bins at the front of most grocery stores and pharmacies (don’t put them in your recycling bin!).
  81. None of the tissues we use are recyclable. In fact, even clean ones can’t go in the recycling, because their paper fibers are too short to be recycled.
  82. Waxed paper is great for handling or delivering food, not so great for keeping products out landfills: Both the coating and the actual use of waxed paper make these unfit for the bin.
  83. Try using reusable rags or sponges instead of paper towels.
  84. Most people use napkins at every meal, but putting them to use means they’re collecting grease or food scraps, and that makes them unfit for recycling. Switching to cloth ones at home could help cut down on waste.
  85. The key thing is to make sure you will be able to recycle the material without needing to go out of your way.


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