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Take a moment and look around you to count how many items are made from either wood or paper. Next, look around the room you are in and count how many items are made from recycled materials. If you are like 99.99% of the population, there is a tremendous amount of items made from wood, paper or wood by-products.
The people of the world cut down a lot of trees each year, and every year…a lot! Statistics show that as a global community we cut down a forest the size of Ireland every 365 days. This equates to anywhere between 3 and 6 billion trees annually. Yes, 3,000,000,000 to 6,000,000,000 trees.
I have written before that the people of the United States are consumers, we consume everything in large quantities and recycle very little of what we use. Question: how many pounds of paper does the average American use each year? Answer: 749 pounds per person. Of this amount we recycle only 334 pounds of paper per person each year. The majority of the other 415 pounds goes to you know where, the landfill.
So where is all this going as this is a Blog about mulch and recycled rubber? Wood mulch is all around us with hundreds of millions of pounds produced each year. This mulch is not made by stripping forests so your landscaping can look good, but rather is a result of our consumer tendencies. Wood chip mulch is made by the chipping of trees of that have been cut down. It can also be made from old shipping pallets used to transport goods across the globe. Bark chips are the result of the timber industry stripping the bark off of trees that are taken down for multiple needs. Wood mulch exists because we are devastating our forests to serve our needs as consumers of everything paper and wood. The timber industry will say that trees are a renewable resource as they can be cut down and regrown every 35 years, but there is a problem with this statement. World consumption of timber-related products has grown 400 percent over the past 40 years. Did we plan ahead and start to plant 400 percent more trees to cover this increase? Sadly, we did not.
If we used less timber, there would be less wood mulch and people would look for alternatives such as rubber mulch made from 100% recycled tires. If we used less paper we would not need to harvest so many trees each and every year. For many of us deforestation is not something that we see, so out of sight, out of mind can sometimes be the mindset.
Think of your favorite park, or a place you like to hike, have a picnic with the family, where you like to get out on two wheels and ride along a trail or just that tree you have watched grow since you moved into your home. Now, picture going to the same place to find no shade, no majestic vistas, looking up and not being able to see the leaves turn from green to brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow – this is where we are heading if we are not careful.
This is not a writing to say that if you use wood mulch or occasionally print off that email even though you didn’t really need it that you are a bad person. This is a call to action to take a look at how you can make a difference and not contribute to an already growing problem.
The recycling movement is not a new one, but it is one that we all must embrace. Mulching using recycled rubber = good. Recycling as much paper as you can = good. Looking at the world not just for today, but for what it will look like in 100 years = great!
Too often people say that one person cannot make a difference, but who knows, you may be that one that tips the scale in the right direction – but you will never know unless you take the first step.