Monday, April 14, 2008

Recycling paper: ‘waste not, want not’ concept

Global warming is a sad reality and whenever I see a news report of a glacier disappearing (the glacier in Chile disappearing made news last week), I wonder why governments don’t take urgent steps. But I realize it’s important for individuals to be aware of what steps they can take to improve the environment—a small change in lifestyle can really contribute!! The recent article in Newsweek on what the common man can do was quite relevant in this context. I want to share an experience I had as a school kid. When I was at school in my country, India, I had a craft project making recycled paper. Our craftmaster told us--If each child saves 1 sheet of paper a day, 40,000 trees are saved per year by Delhi students alone(Delhi is the capital city of India). He told us not to waste paper and showed us ways to make recycled paper—we made paper pulp of used paper with some fenugreek seeds and poured it on a screen kept in a large deep tray with 1 inch water—then we strained away the excess water and spread the pulp evenly and shaped it over a large newspaper. The screen helped in holding the shape and when dried, this created a thick sheet which could be carefully torn away. we made sturdy paper bags out of these sheets, some of us also made it fancy wrapping paper with some natural colors and by sticking dry leaves and petals .I was mighty proud of the bag I had crafted and gladly took it home, showing it off to friends and family!! The adults in the family told me they had done the same recycling project when they were at school! I’m not sure how many of my class fellows growing up in developed countries have had the experience of recycling a product (Probably not many—there does seem to be a widespread lack of awareness about the 3 Rs –REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE --concept in developed countries; but I’m glad to say in my country millions of educated Indians follow these as a way of life) . A movement called Clean India has a which gives details of making recycled paper products for any one interested in precise details. The experience of recycling made its mark on quite a few of us and we never wasted paper then onward. We also patronize recycled paper products as a way of life. When I see our ECE dept limit of 1000 page printouts per sem, I have no problem with it and wonder why all other depts. don’t enforce such a rule as well. Probably, tens of thousands of trees will be saved if every student ensures that he/she does not waste paper!! And uses recycled paper where available.

1 comment:

Tom Dyson said...

Industrial paper recycling involves using caustic bleaches and other harmful chemicals. Plus, a significant fraction of trees (well, 16% IIRC) are grown expressly for the purpose of making paper.

Just pointing out, recycling paper is not really a clean cut issue (if you'll excuse the pun).