I have spent much time in the woods hiking, mostly in New Hampshire, and love the forests and mountains in all seasons. When I started developing eco–friendly products, I didn’t fully understand why paper was the better choice as the thought of cutting down the woods didn’t appeal to me. What I discovered is that managed forests provide a thriving and sustainable eco-system.
First, an average tree absorbs 48 pounds of carbon annually. A mature forest of 50 years or more accumulates dead wood and prone to forest fires that puts the carbon back in the atmosphere. 32.5 billion pounds of carbon on average are released by forest fires every year; see the link below. Animals and trees thrive in properly managed forests and have 0-30-year-old trees greatly minimizing fires. (Some trees require fire to survive ie. Sequoia and, Red Wood but, these are not the type that are used for paper)
Second: The paper mill obtains all its fiber from the waste product provided by the lumber mills. Lumber used for homes sequesters carbon and the branches etc. produce the paper. Nothing is wasted. The bark and un–usable parts power the paper mill.
Paper is also easily recyclable, biodegradable and breaks down quickly in water. In contrast, plastics are suffocating the ocean and since the ocean sequesters about 30% of the carbon for the planet it is a serious problem that also produces toxins that poison our fragile eco-systems; see the links below.
Paper on the other hand, is a natural product that the ocean’s microbes breakdown very quickly.
So, for single use products like packaging, paper is the best alternative for minimizing pollution and most importantly, won’t interfere with the life in our oceans.