Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Lowdown on Tree-Free Paper

Every week I get several calls or e-mails about hemp paper…but considering the number of calls I get, actual interest in creating a market for such a product seems to involve more smoke than a Cheech & Chong movie.

OK, before the Hemp Army descends on me let me say this: I grew up in the Haight Ashbury before the Summer of Love started, I remember my grandmother calling the Flower Children who slept on her fire escape “juvenile delinquents”, which I mistakenly heard as “juvenile Lincolns”…(whatever that could be)…but it was cool with me and we had the double-door split-windshield VW bus…man, we were the real deal hippies before anyone…and we knew better than to try to smoke a banana. -- Gotta establish my hippie credentials here.

Anyway, all this to say, yes I’ve talked to countless people about tree-free paper over the years and wide spread consumer support for tree-free paper from my point of view has essentially been a lot of talk. Simply put: If the hybrid vehicle market depended on the tire-kickers who inquire about tree-free paper, we would all be driving V-8s for years to come.

I want to be clear that there are some very dedicated producers and marketers of nonwood papers. People who have put heart and soul to making tree-free paper a reality. For the most part the standard paper-making industry has ignored alternative fiber, other than the existing market for high-end cotton correspondence paper. What does currently exist in the alternative fiber paper market is out there due to the forward thinking and perseverance of a handful of individuals, not major paper producing corporations. People like Tom Rymsza, Carolyn Moran, Odette Kalman, Harry Johansing, Jeff Lindenthal and Rick Smith. If you are looking for treefree, alternative fiber, nonwood paper…it would be a good idea to support these guys and buy their products. Right now Paper Inc. ain’t really doing much as far as creating an infrastructure to utilize nonwood pulp.

Follow this link to a piece I wrote for the Conservatree website. If you truly want tree-free paper, this is the guide to the current supply of alternative fiber papers. I really do believe that hemp and other nonwood fibers have great promise for the future of paper making. I may have started out giving the needle to the hemp paper advocates, but as you will see, I really reserve the jaundiced eye for the “environmentalists” who proposed plastic as a reasonable substrate for printed mass communications.

If you find I have left off some nonwood alternative paper producer from the piece, by all means please contact me…and we can hash it out.

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