‘Our ancients communicated by word of mouth, often just in thoughts and even when they chose to write, they chose nature – stone and clay tablets, bhojpatras etc. – none of which required trees to be felled and/or chemical processing. The vedic seers were conscious of the environment and its preservation even at times when there was no pollution and resources were in plenty. When Chinese invented paper, we called it one of the ‘Four Great Inventions’ of China…not sure whether the greatness lay in the number of trees that are being felled or the amount of toxins that are released into the environment.’
As a citizen and resident, all of us at some point in our lives have been privy to and witnessed the Great Electoral Battle – whether it’s an upcoming campus election at a university or a political one affecting the entire nation.
What, however many of us don’t see behind the fine print… is the environmental impact of such promotional campaigns. So this time I stepped out of my ‘ignorance is bliss’ zone, and decided to reflect on and tackle the real issue – Callous wastage of paper.
As the successful candidates left, after their very successful address to a group of some starry-eyed, some cynical, some hopeful people… what they did not realize is the massive paper trail they had left behind in their wake. Paper distributed in the form of ‘pamphlets and visiting cards’ which no one really cared about.
But this is just one of the many instances of callous wastage of paper. Think of all the times in a day that we use paper from our money to newspapers and books, cartons and tissues, grocery bags, magazines, the list is endless.
It has been rightly said by Thomas Fuller, “We never know the worth of water till the well is dry”; perhaps we are waiting for our resources to finish before we realize what we have lost. Paper has become an indispensable resource, maybe because it is so easy to come by, but what we don’t realize is that this paper is constantly affecting the environment in hazardous ways.
The paper industry has been ranked as one of the most resource-intensive and polluting of all manufacturing industries. It’s a well-known fact that wood is the main resource needed for paper production; but did you know that to meet consumer demands this industry also procures wood from harvested trees (40%) in addition to forests which is leading to massive deforestation especially in developing countries? Our woes don’t end here, the production of paper releases chemicals like nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide into the air as well as water. The paper industry ranks 4th in being responsible for releasing toxic chemicals into the water, and 3rd for emissions into the air. These are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and acid rain which lead to global warming. Paper’s impact on the environment continues even after it has been thrown away. It accounts for a large amount of landfill waste and the inks and dyes used on papers release these toxins into the ground water.