Why is paper important to the world?

Who invented paper

We all have at least one sheet of bond paper at home or in the office: whether in notebooks, printing sheets, printed documents that use this type of paper for payment notices, among other applications. Not only because of its versatility and variety of applications, it has become one of the most widely used papers in the world, here we will tell you about its characteristics.

Among its characteristics we find a great resistance as it usually has a grammage between 60 and 115g/m², making it more resistant than other papers both for printing and writing, as it does not break when erased. Its opacity is optimal, so it can be used on both sides.

Like other products derived from cellulose and cardboard, bond paper is recycled to save on energy in the production process of newsprint, foil or magazine paper, giving it a new life. The quality of the paper will depend on the fibers used, especially when new and recycled fibers are mixed.

The origin of paper summary

Paper production is one of the industrial activities with the greatest negative impact on the environment. Its manufacturing, distribution and consumption process involves the overexploitation of natural resources that are harmful to nature.

According to a report by the Environmental Paper Network, paper consumption has reached unsustainable levels and is steadily increasing globally. It recently exceeded 400 million tons per year globally.

Moreover, according to the environmental NGO Greenpeace, the origin of these fibers is divided as follows: 54% comes from secondary forests, 17% from primary or “virgin” forests and 29% from forest plantations. This means that forests are the main source of raw material for paper production -especially primary forests with high ecological value.

So much so that Greenpeace states that of all the wood harvested for industrial activities, 40% belongs to paper manufacturing. Therefore, there has been a high level of forest destruction through tree felling.

What is paper used for?

Paper has been one of the inventions that has helped human evolution the most. Through paper it has been possible to transmit knowledge from generation to generation. Before paper there were other supports for writing but their manufacture was very elaborate and costly.

The oldest writing support was papyrus, invented by the Egyptians in the third millennium BC. Papyrus was followed by parchment, made from the skin of lambs, calves or goats. Then came paper, created in China. The first system was very heavy, and the second very expensive.

Etymologically, “paper” comes from Papyrus, a support used by the Egyptians for their writings. In other Asian countries, such as Japan, they also created their own type of paper. Japanese washi, for example, has been declared Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.

The Arabs became acquainted with paper in the 8th century after capturing a Chinese expedition, which included some papermakers. The Saracens then spread the product throughout the known world from 751 onwards.

History of paper for children

In the Amazon, for example, it involves war. News of indigenous tribes killed by guerrillas and deforestation industry mercenaries, in Brazil, is notorious for its history. Not long ago, in 2017, 110 indigenous people were killed, allegedly, due to land issues. Massive logging follows tribal eradication, of course.

These conflicts are not always directly related to the paper industry, but to deforestation and habitat loss. Often these clearings are to create new pastures for the livestock industry, to open up new croplands, or simply to make way for construction. But in all cases, forests are cut down, as are the lives of many people. In some of them, it is just for a few more tons of toilet paper.

This means an estimated annual expenditure of more than $30 billion on this product alone at home. It also means the consumption of some 384 trees per person over a lifetime, just for personal hygiene purposes.