Paper strikes back: defending books, mail and dollar bills

Fri Jun 1, 2012 5:27pm EDT
 
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By Deborah Zabarenko

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Crumple it, drench it, lock it in a hot attic or a damp cellar but paper can come back to life.

It is doing so now, after taking a battering from environmentalists, the Internet and a glum economy. Paper partisans are pushing back, defending greenbacks as preferable to dollar coins, physical mail as hacker-proof and turning-page books as more permanent than digital formats.

Even some environmental objections to paper have turned around as companies work with green groups to foster recycling and grow sustainable forests.

"There's been kind of this rush to villainize paper: it's old-fashioned, it's wasteful, it's inefficient," said Lewis Fix, a vice president at papermaker Domtar.

His company launched an online campaign to rebuild the market for a 2,000-year-old product by focusing on the emotional resonance of paper.

"Paper is a sustainable, renewable, recyclable, plant-based product that connects us in so many ways to the important things in life," proclaims the homepage of Paperbecause (www.paperbecause.com). "Great ideas are started on paper. The world is educated on paper. Businesses are founded on paper. Love is professed on paper."

Even some who believe the world would be a better place if people used less paper seem attached to it.

Allen Hershkowitz loves magazines, books and newspapers but as a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, he has spent much of the past two decades trying to make paper use more efficient and less of an environmental drag.   Continued...

 
A worker looks checks printing paper for the Koran near the Sunan Ampel mosque in Surabaya, Indonesia East Java province, July 27, 2011. The demand for the Koran usually increase from 10 thousand to 20 thousand books ahead of the month of Ramadan, according to Suyanto, the owner of the printing press. REUTERS/Yusuf Ahmad