The Paper Paradox

I love challenging basic truths that I’ve heard all my life and seeing if they really hold up, and this time I think I might be on to something. We’ve always been taught that conserving paper will help the environment, but is that really the case?

To get to the bottom of this, we first need to understand where paper comes from. according to Idaho Forest Products, one of paper’s primary ingredients is wood. Some of this paper comes from paper farms, privately owned organizations that plant trees and sell them. You’re most likely thinking to yourself, “Doesn’t using those trees hurt the environment?” and that is not a huge leap in logic. However, trees are a renewable resource. In other words, you can plant another tree after you use one for something. So, the environment will not suffer long-lasting effects by simply using trees at a normal rate. However, it will suffer those effects if you’re unable to re-plant trees. Remember this, it’s going to be important later.

Next, we need to understand the concept of supply and demand. This a principle of business that drives the price of things. Using up more supply of a high demand product, like paper, will drive the price of paper up. This is where tree farms being privately owned comes into play. Their number one job is not to protect the environment, it’s to turn a profit for their shareholders. Therefore, they will continue on selling to paper companies if they’re making money from it. However, if they don’t make money, they’ll take their business elsewhere. Guess what other companies want to buy land? That’s right: housing companies. As common sense tells us, you can’t plant a tree if there’s a building in that area.

This leads us to the conclusion that wasting paper will paradoxically help the environment. So what do you think about this? Did I blow your mind or did I get everything completely wrong? Obviously  you shouldn’t just throw out all your supply, that would waste money, but will you stop being overly conservative with your paper? Do your own research before doing anything drastic, and share your thoughts down in the comments below!

Sources

Martin, Sam. “Paper Chase.”Ecology Global Network, Ecology Global Network, 10 September 2011, http://www.ecology.com/2011/09/10/paper-chase

Idaho Forest Productions. “How Paper is Made.” Idaho Forest Productions, Idaho Forest Productions, https://idahoforests.org/content-item/how-paper-is-made

Image from Pixabay

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