Currently, the consumption of paper in the world has not stopped growing. It is a material whose main raw material is cellulose sheets. This cellulose is obtained mainly from trees, it is estimated that up to 40% of the felled wood is used to make paper. Much of this paper is wasted year after year and, therefore, it is thousands of felled trees that could be avoided if we use, for example, recycled paper.
The environmental price of paper
Papermaking and forest development are closely related. The paper industry ranks among one of the largest destroyers of forests on the planet. The paper manufacturing process carried out in these factories requires, in addition to a lot of energy, a good amount of water and it also emits pollutants. In fact, the pulp and paper industries are ranked number five in energy consumption within the industrial sector and use more water per ton produced than other industries. In addition, the paper industry is among the largest producers of air and water pollutants, including some greenhouse gases.
It is estimated that up to 40% of the wood felled on the planet is used for these purposes, among which 25% is used directly for the production of paper and the other 15% for by-products from other sectors (sawmilling, board manufacturing , …). The sources of raw material to make paper are:
- 17% comes from primary forests (virgin forests).
- 54% secondary forests.
- 29% of forest plantations.
In order to supply this production, in some places forests and natural ecosystems are replaced by fast-growing trees that use large amounts of herbicides and toxic chemical fertilizers. Many of these species are detrimental to the ecosystem.
Harmful chlorine products such as chlorine gas or chlorine dioxide (ECF) are used in the paper bleaching process . Among the waste generated in this process are organochlorine compounds such as dioxins, which harm the health of citizens and the planet.
In Spain, paper consumption in 2012 was 170 kg / inhabitant / year. This figure has been increasing since then, but it is still far from the 206 in the United Kingdom and 225 in Germany, during that same year. However, it is estimated that in Spain up to 40% of the paper consumed is wasted.
Although certain processes cannot be done, such as whitening and therefore the appearance of this homemade paper is more natural, leaving a brown tone instead of white, making recycled paper at home is possible, since all the materials we need are common in the home and easy to get. These materials to make recycled paper at home are:
- Small pieces of disposable paper
- Paper towels or washcloths
- Newspaper or cardboard
- Large bowl
- Wire mesh or similar
Some optional materials are:
- Pieces of colored paper
- Dried herbs, flowers, or seeds
Steps in the manufacture of recycled paper
To make homemade recycled paper , you just have to follow the following steps after obtaining the material detailed above:
- Collect the papers that we normally dispose of in the trash. You have to be careful that they are clean, for example without food residues.
- Cut them into small pieces and soak them in a bucket of water overnight. In this process the paper is reduced to half more or less than what we have put. You can speed up the process by adding a tablespoon of cornstarch.
- Next, place two parts water to one part paper in a blender and blend until you get a product with a sauce texture.
- Spread this mixture well on the wire mesh, we can add the dry leaves, flowers, seeds or spices. When spreading the mixture, the thickness should be uniform so that when it dries, it is even.
- Roll over this sheet to remove excess water and pass the dry sponge, which will help you absorb it.
- Flip the wire mesh upside down, dropping the recycled paper onto the cardboard or newspaper laid out on a flat surface.
- Lastly, wait a day for your recycled paper to dry completely.