Rapidly Renewable Napkins and Towels vs. Paper from Trees

The use of paper products costs our environment by the removal of trees. Here are some figures from These Come From Trees blog:

  • A single tree produces around 100 pounds of paper
  • A typical fast food restaurant with two bathrooms can use up to 2000 pounds of paper towels per year (20 trees)
  • Roughly 50,000 fast food restaurants in the US (1 million trees per year)
  • 200,000 gas stations in the US (2 million trees per year)
  • 14,000 McDonalds’ in the US (280,000 trees per year)
  • The average coffee shop uses 1000 pounds of paper towels per year (10 trees)
  • 10,000 Starbucks in the US (100,000 trees)

That’s roughly 3.4 million trees per year not counting the trees used by the lumber industry. None of the above account for what we use in paper product around the home or office.

In total, according to Understory – The Official Blog of RAN, about 3 to 6 billion trees per year are used for global production and consumption of woodfuel (charcoal and other energy uses) roundwood (paper and other non-lumber products) and sawnwood (lumber). The Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005 report estimates global tree production at 1.7 billion (46 percent) , 1.6 billion (43 percent) and 421 million (11 percent) cubic meters respectively with comparable volumes consumed globally.

So how can we make a difference? One way is to reduce the amount of napkins and paper towels we use. Another option is to use cloth napkins and cloth towels. They can be washed and used over and over. They are sometimes made with cotton.

Cotton is a natural and rapidly renewable resource. Cotton is a natural, renewable and biodegradable fiber. In contrast, the major synthetic chemical fibers use petroleum as a base, which is non-renewable and, therefore, not sustainable.

The U.S. cotton industry actively supports the three long-term goals of sustainability: environment, economics and quality of life.

Visit Cotton USA for more information.

Unisource is a company that comes to mind as a manufacturer of paper towels and facial tissue made from other rapidly renewable resources such as acacia, mixed tropical woods and eucalyptus, which are plantation crops harvested in less than 10 years.

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