Thursday, September 22, 2005

Coffee and a....keyboard?

The Minnesota Daily (U of M's university paper) highlighted a rather unknown topic concerning newspaper production and its effects on forests worldwide. Now, I grew up in a household where The Boston Globe and New York Times were on the table at 6 a.m. (among other daily papers)and there still is that hard-to-explain feeling of holding a crisp daily paper full of today's news in your hands first thing in the morning. However, what if what's in today's news questions the whole idea of where we get that very paper?

Frank Erickson puts forth some startling data of how huge the newspaper production impact is on forests worldwide. America reads over 61 million papers every morning from a variety of 1,580 daily papers. Throw in the beastly Sunday morning dictionary that arrives at doorsteps and storefronts once a week and we're talking staggering amounts of paper; like 300 pounds per person per year. Whats even more shocking is....
Newsprint, which is what newspapers are made of, runs between 70 percent and 100 percent virgin forests. Though more than 60 percent of newsprint is recycled, not much of it again becomes newsprint. Virgin newsprint is much cheaper. A lot of recycled newsprint in the United States goes to China, recycled newsprint is one of the largest exported products in America. Even though we are recycling more, overall we are using more, much more.
Basically, the newsprint we read every day is pretty much from a tree, not from a recycled NY Times from 10 years ago. And, instead of reusing them we send them to China (along with the rest of our economy). So, are we addicted to a newspaper culture? Maybe, because as I was raised, its a key part of so many people's morning. With the advent of online journalism (and its FREE!) why do we continue to strip forested lands for our daily news? We've been reading on paper since the Egyptians discovered papyrus...maybe it's time we figure out a more sustainable format.

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