Paper is a vital, everyday product that undoubtedly we could not live without. In fact, it is hard to imagine a world without the countless newspapers, magazines, books, posters and photographs it is used for. The impact of this incessant paper-making, however, means that our planet is suffering as a consequence.
Every year, entire forests full of trees are cut down to produce the approximate 300 million tons of paper used throughout the world. Furthermore, used and unwanted paper is often dumped in landfill, meaning part of it ends up in the environment, contributing to green house gases.
Recycling paper means reducing the amount of trees cut down and the resulting pollution to the environment.
Paper is made up of cellulose (plant fibers), bound together by glue. It is possible, by hand, to separate these fibers and reuse them. So here’s a novel idea – instead of simply chucking out your old newspapers and magazines, why not have a go at recycling paper yourself? It uses less electricity, less water, considerably less pollution and crucially, it saves all of those precious trees from being cut down. Not only will you be doing your bit for the environment, but the process is fun and rewarding – resulting in beautiful, handmade paper for a whole range of uses.
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to paper recycling
- Make a frame by bending an old wire coat hanger into a rectangular/square shape, then stretch an old pair of clear tights over the frame, ensuring it’s tight and flat. Alternatively, an insect screen works stretched over a wooden frame.
- Blend your torn up paper with water in a food processor or pestle and mortar until it forms a mushy paste. Keep going until you have a large grey blob – for colour, use food colouring or onion skin. Adding lint or leaves will also add an interesting texture to your paper.
- Mix together two tablespoons of white glue and the paper pulp in a tub or sink filled with about 4 inches of water. Get stuck in and mix well with your hands.
- Scoop the frame to the bottom of the sink, lifting slowly to let the water drain out.
- Hang the frame on a clothesline or out in the sun, ensuring it is completely dried out before you gently peel off the handmade paper.
- Steam out your paper using an iron on its hottest setting. To make more, you can repeat this process until all the pulp is strained out of the tub/sink.
And voila! Recycling paper by hand is really that easy.
Do your bit to save the planet, recycle paper paper at home.