These days, it’s popular to hate on paper in favor of digital media. But is this justified based on facts? Let’s look at some of the top paper myths in light of information provided by our friends at Two Sides. The truth just may surprise you.
Myth #1: Papermaking causes deforestation.
Papermaking does not cause deforestation. Nor does the manufacture of forest products in general (including lumber and building materials). What causes deforestation is growth in agriculture. In fact, 90% of deforestation is caused by unsustainable agricultural practices.
Myth #2: We are losing our forestland, and it needs to be protected.
Over the last six decades, the total amount forested area in the United States has increased by more than 3%. Moreover, the net volume of trees on timberland has increased by 58%.
Myth #3: By not using paper, we are protecting our nation’s valuable resources.
Nearly all of the pulpwood harvested in the United States (89%) comes from private land, and landowners make money from raising, harvesting, and renewing this renewable resource. If we stop buying forest products, this would give landowners incentive to sell the land for profit, such as for agriculture or commercial development. Buying forest products actually protects forests by making undeveloped forestland profitable.
Myth #4: We cut down lots of trees to make more paper.
Most paper in North America is actually made from sawmill residues and recovered paper (scrap paper from print shops and other locations that was never used for printing). Only 36% of the U.S. timber harvest is used each year in manufacturing paper and paperboard.
Myth #5: Paper has a high carbon footprint.
With 1.1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, the pulp, the paper and print industry is one of the lowest industrial emitters. It is also one of the highest users of renewable energy. More than 65% of the total energy used by North American pulp and paper mills comes from renewable forest biomass. Since 1990, the amount of fossil fuels (per ton of production) used by U.S. pulp and paper mills has dropped by 25.4%. Since 2000, it has dropped by 14.6%.
Are you surprised by some of these answers? If so, bust some more myths by checking out Two Sides North America’s “Myths and Facts” section at www.twosidesna.org. If you’re in Europe, check out Two Sides’s European organization at www.twosides.info.