There are so many things that are packaged within paper, and the waste can be enormous. I think about the time, manufacturing costs, the transport, the packaging, when we look at individual salt packets. My guess is, forty granules of salt are contained within a tiny salt packet. And we’ve got to enclose it with paper, and then put it in another big package to transport it. There are so many ways that we use paper that are not allowing us to be effective stewards of our environment.
There was an interesting write-up of editorial letters in the Chronicle the other day. In it, one might think people were against plastic bags, and they were. But they were also against paper bags. All of the letters pointed towards using canvas. And many of them even stated we should feel guilty for using trees to transport our lunches, groceries, or other sundries. We’re facing quite a revolution here in being thoughtful about how and when we use our natural resources.
We can live consciously and thoughtfully about how we use paper. When you write a note, could you also reuse it again, and use the other side? When you receive a card, is there a portion of it that’s not written on, that could be used for a casual note to a roommate, spouse or friend? Or perhaps you could even use it for a to-do list. When you receive a box containing a recent book or item of clothing, you can save it for holiday gifts. Let’s think creatively about our trees.
I remember my very astute four year old niece, when I took her to the restroom, after we had got brunch. With two young nephews waiting in the restaurant, age 8 and 10, and as the sole aunt caretaker, I hurriedly pulled out two paper towels and dried my hands. “Shame on you, Aunt Pamela. They teach us in school that that’s a tree. You’re not supposed to do that.” Lindsey was absolutely right.
What if every time you picked up, or used a piece of paper, you envisioned a beautiful evergreen, redwood, or eucalyptus tree? Would we then be so quick to crumple it up? Would you crumple up a cherry blossom tree?