Look around you. Regardless of where you are – at home, in the office, even in your car – you’re using something made of paper. In fact, every day, millions of people use paper products manufactured in the Pacific Northwest.
Each person in the United States consumes approximately 675 pounds of paper a year. We read more than 350 million magazines, two billion books and 24 billion newspapers a year – all printed on paper. Our children use paper in school and at home, for work and for play. Your movie ticket is made out of paper, and so are the containers and carry-out trays for your popcorn and drinks. Even the batteries in your TV remote control contain paper, and so does your television itself.
Our money, checks, photographs, stock certificates, deeds, drivers licenses, birth certificates and marriage licenses, all the documents that govern our lives, are made of paper. Cereal boxes, milk cartons, pet food bags, egg cartons, tea bags, paper towels, bath and facial tissue – virtually everything you buy at the grocery store – contains paper – including the grocery bags you use to carry it home. Even soup cans and plastic jugs have paper labels. Your takeout pizza box is made from paper. Your Internet purchases are shipped to you in boxes made of paper. Your car’s oil, air and fuel filters are made of paper. To some extent, even your house is made of paper, including the insulation, gypsum board, wallpaper, laminated counter tops and roof shingles. And paper is the backing material for masking tape, sandpaper and electrical cable wrap.
Remember when the computer age promised that ours would become a paperless society? Not even close.
Excerpted with thanks from the Robert C. Williams Paper Museum Collection, Georgia Tech University