Environmentalism is a tricky word and a sometimes daunting idea. It can be very easy to get overwhelmed when looking at every area of your life that could use a little "greening". It is important to remember however, that environmentalism is not an all or nothing concept.
There are people in the world who are willing to give up all of the luxuries of modern life, use a composting toilet, and live off the grid - all in the name of Environmentalism. If you are one of these people, you rock! However, at Fish Lips Paper Designs, we believe in Environmentalism for the Rest of Us. We believe very strongly that every single environmentally friendly thing that you do matters - even the small ones. Each piece of paper you recycle, each energy efficient light bulb you use, and each time you turn off the water while brushing your teeth will make you a part of the solution. In fact, if 1% of the US population wrapped 1 gift each year in Fish Lips Paper Designs' recycled gift wrap, rather than traditional wrap made from virgin materials, the following would be saved:
2,029 fully grown trees + 926k gallons of water + 826 million BTU's
of energy + 58k lbs of solid waste + 205k lbs of greenhouse gases
Recycled Paper is made from waste paper pulp instead of virgin wood pulp. There are several kinds of "waste" used: Post-Consumer and Post-Industrial are two.
Post-Consumer Waste is the paper that has been manufactured or printed on for a specific purpose and is eventually returned to recycling centers. From an environmentally friendly point of view, the higher the percentage of Post-Consumer Waste, the better. This is the paper that would otherwise go to landfills and incinerators.
Post-Industrial Waste is made up of scraps from the paper manufacturing process. This paper never actually meets its end use.
Not all recycled papers are created equal. It is important to check out the actual recycled content of papers calling themselves "recycled". For example, a label that says "50% recycled 20% PCW", means 50% virgin wood cut down from our forests, 30% Post-Industrial Waste and 20% Post-Consumer Waste.
In the initial manufacturing process, paper is whitened using a chlorine or chlorine derivative bleach. Bleaching paper with chlorine or chlorine derivatives is harmful to our environment. Paper mills using chlorine for bleaching produce hundreds of chlorinated organic compounds (organochlorides - that even sounds bad) including dioxins, which are considered the most potent chemical toxins known. Studies have shown that dioxins are highly carcinogenic, lead to reduced reproductivity, cause genetic damage, and are persistent and accumulate in the environment, becoming concentrated as it moves up the food chain.
Paper that is "Processed Chlorine Free", like Fish Lips', has been processed back into paper using no chlorine or chlorine derivatives. This means none of the harmful toxins of the typical bleaching process are emitted back into the air or water.
Fish Lips Paper Designs' products are ALL printed using soy-based inks, instead of conventional petroleum-based inks. The soy products are used in the ink for their oils, which act as the vehicle for the ink pigments.
During the drying process, petroleum-based inks emit harmful VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds) into our environment. VOC's not only damage our environment, but they can have terrible effects on our health.
Soy-based inks have been found to emit 82% less VOC's than their petroleum-based counterparts.
In addition, soy-based inks are easier to remove from paper than petroleum-based inks during the de-inking phase of recycling. This results in less paper damage and brighter recycled paper. The resultant waste is not considered hazardous and is easier and more cost effective to dispose of.
An average American uses 465 trees to create a lifetime of paper.
Recycling one ton of paper saves the equivalent of 17 trees, saves approximately 4 barrels of oil, saves enough energy to power an average home for six months, saves 7,000 gallons of water, and keeps 60 pounds of pollutants out of the air. In fact, the EPA has found that making paper from recycled materials results in 74% less air pollution and 35% less water pollution.
Manufacturing recycled paper uses less energy than making paper from virgin wood pulp. Using less energy requires lower consumption of non-renewable fossil fuels and involves less emissions of numerous air and water pollutants.
Paper plus cardboard combined make up 73% of the materials in the landfill. Recycling reduces the need for landfills, allowing local lands to be used in more environmentally preferable ways. Plus, by diverting paper materials from landfills, we reduce the methane released when these materials decompose.
Recycling produces less of 27 different types of pollutants, when compared with using virgin materials, in manufacturing products and disposing wastes.
Recycled paper is made to the same standards as paper made from virgin pulp. Plus, recycled paper has features which make it more desirable than virgin paper, such as being more opaque, dense, and flexible.