I was just reading an article on the relationship between the US economy and wood chips – quite enlightening; and somewhat frightening.
Europeans are importing increasing amounts of wood chips to supplement coal in electricity generation plants and to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, the price of wood chips is going up in the US market but the floundering US dollar still makes them a bargain.
Additionally wood chip supply in the Pacific Northwest and the South is drying up and driving up prices. With building down and an associated lessening demand for lumber, there’s less waste – which means less wood chips. To meet the wood chip demand, some lumber companies are chipping logs that previously might have been used for boards.
I don’t deny our need for paper, but I’ve seen first hand the devastation of clear cut felling of old growth forests for the production of items we throw away. It’s hard to explain the feeling of walking through a heavily forested area one week and then the next, finding the area looks like a bomb hit it.
Reading about this brought to mind a song by John Williamson; an Aussie folk singer and songwriter – sums it up quite well:
“Rip rip woodchip – turn it into paper
Throw it in the bin, no news today
Nightmare, dreaming – can’t you hear the screaming?
Chainsaw, eyesore – more decay”
While increasing amounts of paper come from sustainably harvested forests; it can be a shady game at times – for example your toilet paper and tissues might not be as eco-friendly as you may think. It just underlines the importance of recycling paper wherever we can. Thanks to the Internet, we can also reduce the amount of paper based products we consume; such as newspapers. Also on the horizon is increasing availability of tree free paper.