paper

One Man’s Trash or Treasure?

paperWhat do you do with a ton of used paper?

No, this is not a trick question and the answer isn’t “throw it away.”

Recently, a group of 6th grade students in Hebron, Nebraska taught me a new way to use all that extra paper. They’ve come up with a way to use shredded paper and turn it into pulp.  Using little cups as molds, they shaped the pulp into starter pots. The pots would dry for a week and then they would add a second layer of pulp to make the pot sturdy and strong.

After the pot would dry, the students would add soil and plant flowers to grow.  These students then adopted a “grandparent” at the local elder care community center, where they gave away the potted plants.  The neatest thing was watching the students share their recycling and reuse art project with their new friends.

The students are diverting hundreds of pounds of paper waste with this project.   What are some ways you can reuse paper in the community?

Yvonne Gonzalez is a SCEP intern with the Air and Radiation Division in Region 5.  She recently received a dual graduate degree from DePaul University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Put an End to Junk Mail

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Recently, when I came home from work, I found my mailbox full of envelopes, magazines, brochures, ads, you name it—mostly unsolicited mail. What really bugs me is that all too often the important items (bills, letters, subscriptions) risk being lost in the pile of bulk mail. When you come to think about it, most of the time, the mail we receive is unsolicited and we clearly can live without. So that got me to thinking, how much paper is used to produce that unsolicited mail? How many trees have to die to produce this mail? What are some of the other environmental impacts? Water used in paper processing? Carbon dioxide released into the air to transport these unwanted items? How much actually ends in our landfills?

The statistics are quite alarming. More than 4 million tons of junk mail are produced yearly. Over 50 percent of this unsolicited mail ends up in landfills annually. While the quantity of paper waste seems overwhelming, there are things we can do to put a stop to these unwanted deliveries. For example, there are various websites where you can register in order not to receive unsolicited advertising mail and to prevent advertisers from sharing your name and address with similar companies.

Furthermore, there are other steps we can take to reduce paper usage and economic costs of bulk mailings. How about using technology? You can use the Internet to check out company ads electronically. You can bookmark your favorite Web sites instead of printing them. Use scrap paper for drafts or note paper. And if efforts to reduce waste at the source fail, let’s recycle! Please visit our website for some useful tips.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Hay que eliminar la correspondencia basura

Sobre la autor: Lina M. F. Younes ha trabajado en la EPA desde el 2002 y está a cargo del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Comunicaciones Multilingües. Como periodista, dirigió la oficina en Washington de dos periódicos puertorriqueños y ha laborado en varias agencias gubernamentales.

Recientemente, cuando regresé a la casa al final de la jornada laboral, encontré el buzón lleno de sobres, revistas, folletos, anuncios y papeles—la mayoría era correspondencia que yo no había solicitado. Lo que más me molesta es que con demasiada frecuencia, los artículos realmente importantes (facturas, cartas, suscripciones) podrían perderse entre la estiba de correspondencia no deseada. Cuando uno lo piensa realmente, podríamos prescindir de dicha correspondencia basura que no hemos solicitado. Me puse a pensar, cuánto papel se utiliza para producir esa correspondencia no solicitada? ¿Cuántos árboles han tenido que morir para producir esta correspondencia? ¿Cuáles son algunos de los impactos ambientales? ¿Cuánta agua se utiliza para procesar el papel? ¿Cuánto dióxido de carbono se ha emitido al aire para transportar los artículos no deseados? ¿Después de enviado, cuánto termina en los vertederos municipales?

Las estadísticas son alarmantes. Más de cuatro millón de toneladas de correspondencia basura son producidas anualmente. Más del cincuenta por ciento de esta correspondencia no solicitada llena los rellenos sanitarios anualmente. Mientras que la cantidad de desechos de papel parece abrumadora, hay medidas que podemos tomar para frenar la entrega de estos artículos. Por ejemplo, existen varios sitios Web donde usted se puede registrar a fin de no recibir esta correspondencia publicitaria no solicitada y prevenir que los anunciantes compartan su nombre y dirección con compañías similares.

Asimismo, hay otros pasos a seguir para reducir el consumo de artículos de papel y costos económicos de los envíos en volumen. ¿Por qué no recurrir a la tecnología? Navegue en el Internet para ver los anuncios publicitarios de las compañías electrónicamente. Marque esas páginas como sus sitios favoritos en lugar de imprimir los anuncios. Puede usar algunos de estos papeles como borrador o para apuntes. Si los esfuerzos por reducir los desechos en la fuente puntual de origen fallan, entonces recíclelos. Para más consejos útiles en inglés o español visite nuestra página Web.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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New Climate for Action: Paper Usage

About the author: Ashley Sims, a senior at Indiana University, is a fall intern with EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection and Environmental Education through the Washington Leadership Program.

Think about all the paper we use for school. We constantly take notes during class, use paper for homework assignments, tests, and print sheets related to school work. There’s no way to get around it. Or is there? We need paper on a daily basis since school has to be our number one priority. So how can we be environmentally conscious while making sure we keep up with our daily obligations to school?

Here is a suggestion. Why not use paper to its fullest potential to minimize waste? The process of making, distributing, and using paper releases greenhouse gas emissions into our environment. At EPA we promote Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! Reducing the amount of paper we use, as well as reusing and recycling paper can help address global climate change. Reducing paper usage decreases waste and its associated costs. Reusing paper can stop or delay its entry into the waste stream. Recycling turns paper that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. So why not get involved and help save our environment. Our small efforts to reduce the amount of paper we use can truly make a huge impact on our planet.

Here are some helpful tips to try for school:
-Always print double-sided and write on both sides of paper
-Cut up old blank paper for notes instead of buying new notepads or sticky-notes
-Use old comics from the newspaper to wrap presents or textbooks for school
-Donate old books to a used-book store or secondhand shop
-Recycle old books, magazines and papers
-Buy recycled paper products such as notebooks, computer paper, cards, etc whenever possible

Please tell us how you conserve paper while completing your homework assignments. If you haven’t tried any of the above suggestions, still let us know what you think. I can’t wait to hear your ideas about how we can conserve paper and get good grades too! Your small changes can make a big difference.

For more information about waste please visit http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/index.htm

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.