SOME FACTS ABOUT PAPER
During my stint at the college, I watched - and participated in - wasting a shitload of paper. Sure we placed it in a recycling bin, but c'mon now. We all know that the paper in the blue bin goes to the same place as the paper in a garbage can - it's called a landfill. Maybe I'm wrong, but I doubt it. If all this paper was really being recycled, then everything we bought would say "Made from recycled paper." How many times have you seen that written on your paper bags at the grocery store, or on the magazine you purchased at the newsstand? Not that often.
The straightdope has a great article on how paper is created, a topic I have always been curious about. But what I found especially interesting was some of the facts about just how many trees go into making the same paper that we all use on a daily basis.
1 ton of uncoated virgin (non-recycled) printing and office paper uses 24 trees
1 ton of 100% virgin (non-recycled) newsprint uses 12 trees
A pallet of copier paper (20-lb. sheet weight, or 20#) contains 40 cartons and weighs 1 ton. Therefore:
1 carton (10 reams) of 100% virgin copier paper uses 0.6 trees
1 tree makes 16.67 reams of copy paper or 8,333.3 sheets
1 ream (500 sheets) uses 6% of a tree (and those add up quickly!)
1 ton of coated, higher-end virgin magazine paper (used for magazines like National Geographic and many others) uses a little more than 15 trees (15.36)
1 ton of coated, lower-end virgin magazine paper (used for newsmagazines and most catalogs) uses nearly 8 trees (7.68)
In Tacoma, WA the paper mills in town produce this extremely pungent odor that permeates the entire city. It has been dubbed "The Aroma of Tacoma." The Straightdope gets to the bottom of that as well:
The smell is only partially a result of the sulfur compounds used in the kraft process; mostly, it's a result of the cooking out of the lignins and sugars in the wood. Remember too that trees contain some natural sulfur compounds, which are liberated during the pulping process. The smell is sickly sweet, reminiscent of what I encounter at large grain processors. The good thing is that, though annoying, it's not very hazardous. After a week at a plant you stop noticing it partially because your hair, clothes, and hotel room take on the same smell.
So there you have it. This was both informative and also a way for me to procrastinate from doing any actual work.