Thursday, August 14, 2008

Virgin Paper Forests - Irving

Pea soup this morning, can hardly see 100 yards but it should "burn off".

Up in the North East, way up in northern New England Irving has been a prominent gas station stop for several years. On my way to Gaspe, Canada, we passed a lot of them. What I didn't know is their diverse holdings, namely the wood business. People in Maine are very familiar with the multi million dollar corporation, but, well, I'm not from Maine.

Between Maine and New Brunswick, Irving owns millions of acres of land, about 2 million of it in Maine alone (about 1/3 the State of New Hampshire) I think we drove by every acre. About 10 years ago, Maine bought over 1.5 million acres for less than $250 per acre. Not so fast if you want to buy land from them. Any land that is turned around and sold back to non-profits for land conservation is sold at a considerable profit.

Miles and miles and miles of scrawny forests... for wood pulp. I thought maybe the trees were for building materials, something substantial, but they never looked big enough. There were patches of various growths, and lots of stripped clear cut acreage. This was where the factory of paper making starts. It was disturbing to realize that. It just seemed so extreme.

So where does all this wood go? Apparently for pulp. What is pulp, anyway? Mostly the bottom of the barrel kind of trees that grown fast so they can be cut down and used for our modern conveniences. Irving's top producing wood pulp products are toilet paper, tissue and paper napkins.

This is where it really hit me. So as a consumer, we have a choice, recycled or post consumer paper products ( that means really after use, ie junk mail) or virgin paper made directly from fresh cut trees. These forests are being cut down and processed, using huge amounts of chemicals and energy to produce things like virgin toilet paper. Are you kidding?

So please think about where your everyday products come from. Think about the process required to bring it to the market shelf. I know we need some kind of paper products more than others. But do we really need to cut down whole forests for toilet paper?

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce virgin paper use and paper all together. Reuse cloths instead of paper, reuse paper for scraps. Recycle your paper and BUY recycle paper products.

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