Paper was invented thousands of years ago but the mechanized method of paper making took a long time to reach the United States. This country did not start manufacturing its own paper until 1690, when William Rittenhouse established the first paper mill near Germantown, Pennsylvania (Papermaking Moves). Now there are over five hundred mills in this country and “each year, more than 2 billion books, 350 million magazines, and 24 billion newspapers” are published in the United States alone (All About Paper). Many people worry that trees will disappear and landfills will grow out of control because paper is used for so many products. This fear is understandable, however, every day more uses are being found for scrap paper. Instead of focusing only on the current problems in paper recycling, Americans must help the paper industry, educators, artists, design entrepreneurs, and even architects find new ways to salvage paper waste.
One of the current problems involved in the public’s consumption of paper products is the use of old and inefficient paper mills. The older mills can use too much energy recycling paper waste and allow large amounts of carbon dioxide to enter the atmosphere. The solution to this inefficiency is to upgrade or build new paper mills which would use less energy with less pollution. Another problem in recycling is that consumers are still not as involved as they should be and fill about twenty seven percent of landfill sites with paper and cardboard each year (Text Version). Un-involvement, however, can be turned around if everyone will sort their paper products and get them to a recycling center.
Once the sorted paper leaves the recycling center it enters the paper mill process and is turned into many useful items. In an article put out by Fortus, 3-D Production Systems, the authors explain that paper mills can not only recycle paper into more paper, they can create paper pulp which is used to make sustainable packaging like “egg cartons, fruit trays and drink cup holders” (Mabie and Camuel). These authors go on to say that this packaging is made from “old newsprint, corrugated boxes and a variety of other plant ﬁbers”, and is “100 percent recyclable and biodegradable” (Molded Fiber). Although sustainable packaging and printing recyclable newspapers are important for the environment, it is important to remember the roles educators and artists play in re-using scrap paper.
Anyone who has attended school knows that no art class is complete until the student gets to shred newspapers and hold the sticky lengths over a bowl of flour and water for the infamous paper mache sculpture project. This is a good example of educators using items that have been salvaged to show children that things which have been thrown away can be re-used creatively. Artists are also seizing the paper bull by its proverbial horns and charging head on into the showdown between trash and planet. Playful design concepts that open the public’s eyes to...