Save Earth's Lungs


Trees play a key role in mitigating this climate emergency as they are able to absorb carbon emissions to reduce the average global temperature. Planting trees are becoming a crucial component of many government’s action plans to combat climate change. On average a tree can absorb about 48 lbs. of carbon dioxide yearly and about 1 ton of carbon by the time it is 40 years old (Evans). However, human carbon emissions are currently overshooting the amount that can be retained by the trees alone.

Amazon Rainforest Deforestation

Devastating Deforestation

Deforestation is the removal and desolation of trees. This occurs for a number of reasons including farming, grazing livestock, mining, urbanization, and logging. Some deforestation is accidental from wildfires, but these instances are increasing in areas suffering from climate change through droughts. 80% of land animals and plants live in Earth’s forests (Nunez). Deforestation threatens many species, including those that are endangered. Trees create a canopy which is essential to maintaining the forest ecosystem as it blocks out the sun during the day and holds in warmth at night. Without trees these areas experience extreme temperature changes resulting in the destruction of the wildlife. The deforestation rate in the Amazon is so appalling that approximately three football fields of rainforest are destroyed per minute (Woodward). In other parts of the world such as Indonesia and Malaysia the Palm trees are cut down rapidly in order to create palm oil, which is used in a number of products such as body wash and food products (Nunez). Removing trees not only destroys the trees’ potential for carbon absorption, but also emits carbon. If we classified deforestation as a country, it would only be behind the United States and China as top Carbon Dioxide emissions (World Resources Institute).


Reduce Paper Usage


Think Before Printing

A great deal of paper goes to waste by printing things that are unnecessary, such as single line emails. If you need to print try printing double sided and on thinner paper made from recycled materials. Another helpful tip is to reduce the margins on the document before printing which can save about 14% less paper (WWF). Going paper free as much as possible and utilizing digital versions is one of the best ways to reduce paper usage.


Stop Using Single Use Paper Products

Switch from paper towels to cloths/ rags as they work great in the kitchen. One tip is instead of throwing out old t-shirts, cut them up to use as repurposed rags. In companies it is extremely beneficial to ditch the paper towels and opt for air dryers. Other common single use paper products include paper coffee cups, napkins, and plates which all can be replaced by reusable options. It is amazing how much money can be saved by reducing these products. One creative way to reduce notebook paper is using a smart journal which allows you to write in the notebook and uploads to your phone/ computer. The ink can erased by a special cleaner or by heat from a microwave so it can be used infinitely .


Check Out Silicone

Silicone is increasingly becoming extremely useful in the kitchen as it can withstand high temperatures and can be utilized in the freezer. It serves as a useful tool to eliminate single use products as it can easily be washed and reused again. In the kitchen silicone baking sheets make a great alternative to parchment paper. Silicone can also be used as baking molds such as cupcake liners. Another use is that it can be used to replace plastic baggies with a reusable option.


Stop Receiving Junk Mail

Most direct mail promotional marketing material ends up going straight to the landfill without ever being read. About 100 billion pieces of junk mail or around 848 pieces of junk mail per household is sent out in the United States (Waste Away). Approximately 100 million trees are used to produce this much junk mail which causes environmental devastation. To reduce unwanted mail you can contact the company to get your name off the mailing list or mark unwanted “Refused, Return to Sender.”


Reuse Old Paper

Try re-purposing used paper as a notepad or as scratch paper. Creative ways to upcycle paper include gift wrapping. Instead of buying wrapping paper, which is often not recyclable, try utilizing old newspaper, coloring books, comic strips, crossword puzzles, and magazines. Old paper can also work for packaging instead of plastic wrap.


Paper Recycling

When paper is recycled it is shredded into small pieces and then mixed with water and chemicals to break down the paper into fibers (Earth 911). The paper is then pressed and spun to make the fibers become a pulp. Then heated metal rollers dry the pulp so it can become new paper products. Paper has a variety of grades depending on the quantity with newspaper being at the lower grade and office printer paper being at a higher grade. These grades have to do with the fiber length that become shorter during recycling. Paper is said to have “seven generations”. This is because paper can only be recycled around seven times before the fibers become too short to recycle.


In order to have the most effective paper recycling program, it is essential to have the paper be up streamed. Meaning it is in its own separate paper recycling bin away from the waste stream. The main reason is that paper is very difficult to recycle once it is contaminated. Common contaminates include wax from the packaging, oils, grease, water, and food waste. Pizza boxes are a common paper product that accidentally gets placed in the recycling bin even though it is contaminated with pizza grease. The key to a great paper recycling program is to make it as convenient as possible. Have paper bins where there is a large volume of paper waste such as by the printer. Another common place that needs a paper bin is point of sales systems that print receipts that are not needed. A large source of paper that is important to recycle is cardboard. The key for companies is to have a cardboard bin or a designated place for cardboard instead mixing it into the waste stream. Recycling one ton of paper we can save 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water and 463 gallons of oil (Earth 911). It is important to first reduce paper consumption, repurpose/ reuse the paper, and then recycle in order to keep paper out of the landfill and reduce deforestation.


Sources:

“Could Global CO2 Levels Be Reduced by Planting Trees?” CO2 Meter, 29 Oct. 2018, https://www.co2meter.com/blogs/news/could-global-co2-levels-be-reduced-by-planting-trees.

“Effects of Deforestation: The Pachamama Alliance.” Pachamama Alliance, https://www.pachamama.org/effects-of-deforestation.

Evans, Erv. “Tree Facts .” Untitled Document, NC State University , https://projects.ncsu.edu/project/treesofstrength/treefact.htm.

Gibbs, David. “By the Numbers: The Value of Tropical Forests in the Climate Change Equation.” World Resources Institute, 4 Oct. 2018, https://www.wri.org/blog/2018/10/numbers-value-tropical-forests-climate-change-equation.

“How to Reduce Paper Usage at the Office.” World Wildlife Foundation, WWF.

“Junk Mail Facts and Statistics.” Waste Away, 21 Jan. 2018, http://wasteawaygroup.blogspot.com/2018/01/junk-mail-facts-and-statistics.html.

Nunez, Christina. “Deforestation and Its Effect on the Planet.” Deforestation Facts and Information, National Geographic, 25 Feb. 2019, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/deforestation/.

“Silicone in the Kitchen.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 21 Jan. 2004, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/food/2004/01/21/silicone-in-the-kitchen/3f2d3717-10fe-470f-8815-0e8ff308b10b/?noredirect=on.

Sukalich, Kathryn. “Everything You Need to Know About Paper Recycling.” Earth911.Com, 12 June 2018, https://earth911.com/business-policy/business/paper-recycling-details-basics/.

Watts, Jonathan. “Amazon Deforestation Accelerating towards Unrecoverable 'Tipping Point'.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 25 July 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/25/amazonian-rainforest-near-unrecoverable-tipping-point.

Woodward, Aylin. “The 'Lungs of the Planet' Are in Danger of Reaching a Tipping Point That Could Turn the Amazon Rainforest into a Savannah.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 30 July 2019, https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-rainforest-experiencing-record-breaking-deforestation-2019-

Woodward, Aylin. “The 'Lungs of the Planet' Are in Danger of Reaching a Tipping Point That Could Turn the Amazon Rainforest into a Savannah.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 30 July 2019, https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-rainforest-experiencing-record-breaking-deforestation-2019-


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