From ancient civilizations to now we have come a long way in terms of acquiring knowledge, learning to communicate and invent tools to transfer thoughts into paper so it can be disseminated far and wide. We have taken paper for granted today. It has been a very long ride indeed from the original so called paper of ancient times to our modern paper.
We have seen ancient writings on walls, caves, rocks and of course on ancient paper. In parallel, creation of languages, and of sounds as a means of communication started evolving. The origin of paper has propped up new industries namely paper making, ink industry, Pen, pencil and chalk industry, printing, translation, coding, painting, stamping, etc etc. came into being. Today we use paper for everything from copying, newspapers, magazines, flyers, brochures, tickets, boarding passes, packing, and even toilet tissues. I wonder what did people do before the invention of paper? They wrote on clay or brick tablets, on leaves and anywhere else they could write on. Today we see banner ads on buses, trains, billboards and even bus shelters. Basically they were made of paper the, but now it may have been substituted with plastic banners for the sake of durability.
Now just having paper is not enough we need something to write with. Then came the feather and ink which was replaced by the pen and the ink bottle. Then came the ball point pens where there was no more need to fill ink in your pens. Once the desire to convey writing by hand was satisfied we moved on to the screen. Now every gadget came with a keyboard. Moving forward our mind has been active ever since punching key stokes after keystrokes with our brain lit up 24/7. Also if we needed to print we just hit a button and have it on paper in a few seconds. Today every second of every day some one somewhere is reading or typing something somewhere in this World. Isn’t that amazing to see how far we have come.
But with all these advancements comes at a price. The price of pollution. There are billions of tons of paper dumped into our landfill every second from any part of the World at any given time round the clock. Ink is a major pollutant and it’s run off from paper prints to oceans or groundwater is not to be understated. Today we are wasting more paper than ever. Remember those magazine subscriptions we get for free in our offices, the colorful flyers that we receive at home by mail from the supermarkets, the bulk packaging we get along with the products we buy, multiple post card advertisements, and the Billions upon billions of packages and letter envelopes we receive on a daily basis. This is our nightmare scenario. Most of these we are not even going to read let alone touch it. It’s labelled as trash and thrown away. It ultimately heads to the landfill near you.
In closing, I have some suggestions:
- Printing selectively. Print only that you absolutely need to print.
- We cannot live with out paper. But we can use it wisely.
- Unsubscribe mail delivery. Opt in for e-delivery.
- Cancel magazine subscriptions by mail. e-subscribe. e-read books.
- Buy loose fresh produce from local farmers. Avoid packaged ones.
- Carry a cotton tote to your grocery store or during your trips to the library. Avoid plastic and paper bags.
- Use everything in moderation. That includes paper towels and toilet tissues.
- In the kitchen use wash cloth instead of indulging in paper towels.
- The use of handkerchiefs may make a comeback.
- The less we use in paper & paper related products, the more we can help the environment. This may help us in preventing deforestation.