More is Less
There has always been a great deal of debate on how to improve the cleanliness of the earth’s environment through recycling and reducing emissions into the atmosphere. This can be done by making industries and manufacturers more environmentally friendly. Dictionary.com defines eco-friendly, or environmentally friendly, as having or actions producing minimal impact on the natural environment. Solar panels are environmentally friendly because they utilize the sun’s renewable resource, in order to produce energy with little to no wasteful byproduct. Similarly, both trees and paper can be called environmentally friendly because they aid in displacing carbon dioxide that is in the atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide is made up of a single carbon atom that has been bonded by two oxygen atoms, otherwise known as CO2. (Carbon Dioxide) Carbon dioxide can come from natural events such as volcanoes and carbon is produced as a result of industries burning fossil fuels. While in the air the carbon can either be bonded with oxygen atoms to form CO2 or it can be absorbed by plants and trees through photosynthesis. It is better for the CO2 to be absorbed by plants and trees because it is taken out of the air that we breathe. This is important because carbon dioxide is the main contributor to global warming. Carbon dioxide can make the ozone layer smaller which, in turn, heats up the earth. CO2 also causes health issues which is why breathing in too much of it can be fatal. Knowing this, it would be very environmentally friendly and healthy to plant as many trees as possible.
Trees are necessary to sustain life in our society because they produce a good portion of the air we breathe as a bi-product of making energy. The more live trees that are present on the earth, the more carbon that is being removed from the air and the healthier the environment. Unfortunately, trees can be cut and manufactured into hundreds of different products which is a major reason for deforestation. Many people in our society could argue that the process of deforestation is not environmentally friendly; though it is not so much the actual process that matters, but rather than the end result. Paper is easily and more commonly recycled than other types of materials, such as plastic or aluminum. According to a study done by the EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, in 2010, paper makes up for more than thirty-three percent of all recyclables collected in the United States factored by weight. Since paper and wood scraps are constantly being reused, less trees have to be cut down. It is also found that only thirty-three percent of materials used to make paper products come from trees and other types of plants. Less than half of the paper we use was made directly from trees that were cut down.
Trees are known for their purpose of breaking down carbon and releasing oxygen into the air for us to breathe. Oddly enough, not all trees are as beneficial to the environment. Older trees are less efficient at breaking down carbon than younger trees; so much that “..despite the fact that vegetation has grown in the interim, it has also decayed, with the net effect of there being no sequestration.” (NZ Wood) In order to improve the quality of the atmosphere, old carbon neutral trees can be replaced with younger trees. This tree replacement process begins by cutting down the older decaying trees, bringing them to the mills, and later sending them to be manufactured. For every older tree that is cut down, a new one is planted in its place. It is difficult to tell exactly what percentage the old trees account for, but they certainly make up for a good portion of that 33% used to make paper.
Although young trees and paper products take carbon from the air, there is little harm to the ecosystem. It is important to realize that paper plays a vital role in our economy and daily lives, so there would be no way to rid the use of paper completely. The use of paper varies from books to paper cups, and even furniture. (Confederation of Paper Industries) Paper, unlike many other types of recyclables, is the easiest and most common material that is recycled in our society. It can be replaced by planting more trees. Members of our society must realize that by using more paper, instead of other materials, will end up helping our environment in the long run.
“Carbon Dioxide.” Carbon Dioxide. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Apr. 2013. <http://www.lenntech.com/carbon-dioxide.htm>.
“Climate Change.” NZ Wood. NZ Wood. Web. 2 Apr 2013. <http://www.nzwood.co.nz/why-wood/sustainability/climate-change/>.
“Frequent Questions.” Wastes – Resource Conservation – Common Wastes & Materials – Paper Recycling. US Environmental Protection Agency, 18 01 2013. Web. 2 Apr 2013. <http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/paper/faqs.htm>.
“Nature-friendly.” Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2013. <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/nature-friendly>.
“Paper and Its Uses.” Confederation of Paper Industries. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2013. <http://www.paper.org.uk/information/factsheets/paper_and_its_uses.pdf>.