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Caroline Blythe

Dr. Schmalbeck

Honors Energy and Sustainability

8 May 2017

How Green is Your Backpack?

Selected item in backpack: Rhodia dot grid 5.5in x 8.3in notebook used as planner

Selected material from item: Clairefontaine dot grid paper

1. Raw materials for paper include wood pulp, which comes from trees; cotton fiber, which is

grown and farmed from cotton plants; linen fiber, which is grown and farmed from flax

plants; fresh water, which, when easily accessible, comes from rivers, lakes, and streams;

bleaches and dyes, which are chemicals usually made in factories or plants specifically for

that purpose; titanium oxide, which whitens the paper and is mined from rock; and other

chemicals, which can either be manufactured or mined; rosin, which comes from pine trees;

and starch, which usually comes from corn.

2. Step 1: Pulp is manufactured from logs by grinding the logs by way of large machinery,

which use lots of electricity. It can also be manufactured in a chemical process, where

debarked wood chips enter a digester along with sodium hydroxide and sodium sulfide and

is boiled until pulp is formed. In both processes, the pulp is then filtered and bleaches/dyes

are added. These processes also require energy -- the heat to boil the sodium and wood

solution requires energy, the machinery that processes chips into pulp requires electricity,

and the transportation of pulp to paper making facilities uses fossil fuels. It also uses and

depletes a great deal of trees -- though many paper companies plant trees to replace the ones
harvested, these are typically not useful until they are full grown 50+ years later. Their

environmental effects and benefits are vastly different from the mature trees that once took

their place. Step 2: Once the pulp enters papermaking factories, it goes through a process

called beating where it is pounded and squished and combined with bleaches, dyes, titanium

oxide, cloth fibers, chemicals, rosin, and starch until it is the desired texture for its end

purpose. Water is also added during this process and the pulp becomes extremely thin and

dissolved. The beating process requires a great deal of electricity to power the machinery.

Step 3: The watery pulp mixture is filtered through a mesh screen, where the water is allowed

to pass but the pulp and additives are not. The sheet that forms on the screen is paper. This

sheet is removed and compressed to remove the additional water and to smooth it out. The

water that escapes the paper is extremely polluted since it contains dangerous quantities of

the various paper additives. Many of these cannot be removed by using traditional water

treatment methods, and paper companies have been cited time and time again as major water

polluters. In 1996 in Wisconsin, 14 million pounds of toxic substances entered rivers. This is

not unusual. In addition, the compressing machinery runs on massive amounts of electricity.

3. This product will be in use until I fill up the notebook, which will be a total of 12 months,

roughly. Once these 12 months are up, the alternative I could use is an online planner.

However, since my planners start out as blank notebooks that I map out into useful planning

devices, I would miss the creative and artsy aspect of keeping this kind of journal.

4. Once this product is not longer useful to me (i.e. all pages are filled up), I will likely hang

onto the notebook. I work hard to make all entries into this notebook artistic by use of

drawings and hand lettering, and I dont plan on tossing all that hard work into the recycling
bin. However, I wont actively be using the notebook once its full, so it will likely sit in the

corner of my closet with my other filled-up journal/planner notebooks collecting dust until I

decide to flip through it and admire how Ive progressed as an artist.

5. An obvious alternative to the high-quality paper that is used in my notebook would be a

notebook made from exclusively recycled paper. These would be more sustainable due to the

fact that they would be made from paper that had a use in another life -- thus not using as

much raw resources as the typical paper. I would be able to use this paper in the same way, if

it were bound in a notebook, to fulfill my planner, journaling, and artistic needs.

Sources used (how paper is manufactured) (this is the brand/style of

my beloved notebook) (how paper pulp is made) (outlines

environmental degredation by the paper industry)