The Paper Problem

“Going paperless” means overall reduction of the paper we use. The problem with paper, however, starts long before we choose not to use it — and continues long after. Here are some troubling facts about paper’s role in the environmental crisis:

  • It takes six gallons of water to make one pound of paper.
  • Pulp and paper are the third largest industrial polluters of air, water and soil.
  • Chlorine-based bleaches used in paper production release toxic materials into water, air and soil. 
  • It’s estimated that every year the equivalent of 1.4 billion trees end up in landfills.
  • Paper makes up 25% of waste in landfills and 33% of municipal waste. 
  • Rotting paper emits methane gas, which is 25 times more toxic than CO2.

Estimates suggest between four and eight billion trees are cut down each year to produce paper products. Considering every tree produces enough oxygen for three people to breathe, it would benefit people and the planet to find alternatives to paper, and to drastically curtail its production.

About This Author


Pete Yang

Pete Yang is a senior vice president for Alpine Bank and the co-chair of Alpine's "Green Team." He's based in Aspen, where he handles commercial and consumer loans, with a particular focus on resort financing. He has a keen interest in protecting Colorado's unmatched mountain environment.

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