In Search of the Perfect Soul Mate Paper — Learning about Paper Recycling
Lately, I have become more interested in recycled paper, but there are still many things I do not know about it. Here are some things I have learned so far, information regarding paper I currently use and why I use it.
Trying to figure out exactly which paper could serve my purpose and also be environmentally friendly, I browsed several paper-manufacturer websites and online shops. I learned that there is no such thing as a perfect option. I have not seen any paper that is tree-free or 100% post-consumer fiber, AND chlorine-free (chlorine is a toxic chemical used to bleach paper), AND produced using green energy, AND meets my own need. Because I use paper to create paper craft art, my requirement for thickness and whiteness of paper is pretty specific, which already eliminates many options.
The picture above is a work-in-progress piece, and uses three kinds of paper. It will eventually be mixed with collaged bits of pages from secondhand magazines.
The white paper cutout on the bottom layer in this picture is made of Strathmore’s 400 Series Recycled Drawing: white, 80lb (130g/m2), 30% post-consumer fiber. Strathmore has been making recycled paper since 1972, and now has a line of Green-e certified stock (manufactured with 100% Certified Renewable Energy) called Windpower. I am very much looking forward to trying out Windpower drawing paper once I use up my 400 Recycled Drawing pad. Check out their product info sheet for more information: https://www.strathmoreartist.com/tl_files/content/greeneroptions/sap_green_opt.pdf. Because this info sheet does not clearly state whether Windpower is produced through a chlorine-free process, I asked the company directly. Strathmore informed me that the 400 series and Windpower are indeed processed chlorine-free.
The smaller circle pieces, depicting the Downy Woodpecker cutout, are made of Crane & Co’s Crest Text, Fluorescent White, 80lb, Kid finish. I got this as a sample to see what it’s like. It’s slightly thinner than I would prefer, but I like the texture. According to Crane & Co’s website, 70% of the energy used to make their paper comes from municipal waste, and their fiber waste after paper-making process is composted for land reclamation projects. Their paper is constructed of 100% cotton liner, which means it is tree-free paper. I would love to use paper that kills no trees, but, according to Green Graphic Design, authored by Brian Dougherty, “conventional cotton agriculture consumes enormous quantities of toxic pesticides and fertilizers.” While the majority of cotton-paper manufacturers do utilize some of the agro-cotton industry’s waste in their production process, they are dependent upon the often environmentally harmful conventional agro-cotton industry. This book was published in 2008, so the circumstance may have changed by now. Also it is not clear if this applies to Crane’s cotton paper. I would love to visit their Museum of Paper-Making and ask this question. But, for the time being, I will stay away from cotton paper until I learn more about it, and find a product with preferable thickness. Beautiful product though.
Check out their product info sheet for Crane’s crest: http://www.neenahpaper.com/pdf_eps_files/sellsheets/Cranes_Crest_Sellsheet.pdf
The black paper is Daler-Rowney Canford 90lb, not recycled paper. I still have some paper left in my old stock from years ago. No reason to waste them!
I will keep searching for more paper options, but for now I am happy to use paper that has some of these good attributes. I greatly appreciate the effort these paper manufacturers are making, and look forward to their further developments.
Here is a very helpful page to understand paper options that are environmentally-friendly on conservatree.org: