"Making Paper From Trees Is Just Plain Stupid!" - Jack Herer
Even the recycled paper symbol you see on wood fiber products you buy are mostly a result of the trimmings off enormous rolls of virgin wood fiber
"Making Paper From Trees Is Just Plain Stupid!"
- Jack Herer
By Lloyd Hart
Just recently my wife broke her ankle and as a typical male I am a moron in a supper market. It takes me twice as much time to shop as it would if Namiko hobbled through the store with her broken ankle. I have however noticed a frightening specter that screamed at me from the super market shelves.
At least 90 percent of the paper products I was looking at in the store, which includes the packaging are all made from virgin wood fiber pulped from trees. When you add in virgin wood fiber in news print, office, shipping and school use, you see that nothing much has changed.
Even the recycled paper symbol you see on wood fiber products you buy are mostly a result of the trimmings off enormous rolls of virgin wood fiber paper that land on the floor of the pulp and paper mills and get rebatched in the next run. They did that before ecological awareness and then green washing spread to the paper industry, it's not really recycling. The fact that you have to actually look for another symbol claiming 25% or 50% or 80% "post consumer content" is just another way to shift the hidden responsibility onto the shoulders of the consumers. "If consumers don't demand it, we won't supply it."
OK, Supply And Demand!
Twenty years ago I was working for Clean Water Action breaking all their door to door canvassing and fund raising records as a result of the brilliant plan hatched by Clean Water Action, the Environmental Shoppers Campaign. This campaign was a direct boycott threat from consumers to all the chain food stores that didn't comply with the demands of the Environmental Shoppers Campaign, which asked for organic food and less "packaging" bulk food sales being included in the chain food stores nation wide.
The campaign which went from door to door with thousands of trained activists throughout the neighborhoods in rich, poor and middle America gained millions upon millions of signatures on Environmental Shoppers Pledges that were collected and then dropped on the board room tables of the large chain food stores in their corporate head quarters. Instead of the same old confrontation the corporate bosses of the food chains were made to realize at the behest of Clean Water Action that we had just provided them with a free market research study based on highly motivated consumers that showed there actually was a market for alternatives.
This single campaign can be credited with causing single largest investment in organic food production that has led to the great organic farming renaissance we are now experiencing in America. Organic food production has become such a powerful lobby now, that the corporate chemical farmers or as they called themselves in the sixties " The Green Revolution" farmers, have started calling themselves "Traditional Farmers" and what they do as "Traditional Farming".
This is a wonderful result of a great crass roots, bottom up campaign but the most devastating environmental impact on this planet was barely dented. The use of Virgin Wood Fiber in almost all pulp, paper and packaging products sold in America and around the world.
Well the time has come to finally end the use of Virgin Wood Fiber in all pulp, paper and packaging products sold everywhere on this planet. According to a study put out by a sub committee of the Canadian Auto Workers Union in the late 1990s, 50 percent of the world's forests had been cut down and made into paper since the corporate bosses drove Farm Grown Fiber and specifically Hemp Fiber out of the market by manufacturing political subterfuge created by the Marijuana Tax Act sign into law in 1937. (The Emperor Wears No Clothes-Jack Herer)
What the paper industry has done and is doing is tantamount to scraping our lung tissue out with a blunt instrument leaving us gaging for air in pile of bloody flesh on the ground. The Paper Industry has spent the last twenty years "green washing" or as I like to call it, lying to the public about the devastating effects of their industry.
First they threw up tree farming, a completely discredited P.R. effort rather than an actual forestry practice to describe failed monoculture planting in their ecologically devastating clear cuts that they have only been forced to replant in a very minor way in a small amount of nations that they are quickly abandoning for unregulated third world countries. They call what they are doing now "Tree Plantations" while the almost total amount of their wood fiber still comes from the destruction of air cleaning, wild life and human habituated forests. Then they dabble in alternative fibers just to put up the phony front that they are changing their ways. International Paper themselves are claiming that their tree plantations in Brazil are grown on abandoned farms or barren land, but what they don't explain is that the so-called abandoned farms and barren lands were once air cleaning, wild life and habituated forests.
Just as they swept under the carpet the decades of spreading dioxin through their paper products into the human body causing wide spread disease and death and radically polluting the communities around their pulp mills, they have successfully nullified the effects of the environmental movement on their practice of continued radical deforestation.
All one has to do is look at North Africa where previous empires cut down the forests there to make ships, furniture, construction materials, clearing land for food production creating one of the greatest ecological collapses in the history of humankind. The same occurred in the south west of North America. In the last 40 years the Chinese over grazed and farmed the Mongolian Plateau to the point of creating one of the largest deserts in the world. Prior to over grazing and farming its always deforestation. Even when the forests that border grasslands are cut down, that one act of ecological ignorance begins the destruction of those very grasslands.
The science is in and deforestation is the largest contributor to global warming in that the carbon released from deforestation is radically multiplied by the fact that forest can no longer act as a carbon sink and the fact that the erosion of soil and nutrients from deforested, clear cut lands into the water ways and oceans destroys those water ways and oceans ability to act as the world's largest carbon sink. This is evidenced by the development of a massive dead zone hundreds of square miles in size off the coast of the state of Oregon here in America where clear cut logging is practiced like it was a meth addiction and run by meth junkies with nothing but total disregard for the truth of their physical condition.
The environmental movement must be pushed into focusing a great deal more resources on deforestation as the most serious climate change issue while promoting Industrial Hemp as a great carbon sink and as the alternative to pulping trees which to date has not yet developed into the scream it needs to be.
Clearly America and the World must moderate it's paper addiction but most of all we as human beings must immediately halt the making of paper from Wood Fiber and adopt Fibers Grown By Farmers for the manufacture of paper. This will financially bailout family farms and sink billions of tons of carbon at the same time.
Clearly the only fiber that can compete in the narrow economic analysis used by the corporate bosses to persuade the public against it's own better interest when considering alternatives to the nasty conventions are Industrial Hemp Fibers!
Industrial Hemp Fibers must be a tariff protected crop for American farmers giving American farmers a desperately needed cash crop and carbon credits they can then sell. Motivated by sustainable income people will rush back to the family farm to get the good life once known on American Family Farms.
It's A Moral Issue!
It is important that the argument to restore Industrial Hemp Fibers as our main source of paper and packaging in America be framed as a moral issue. Our's and our children's and our grand children's very future depends on halting deforestation. If we don't end deforestation we are consigning ourselves, our children and our grand children to an endless series of wars over dwindling food and water resources brought upon us since we stop making paper from Industrial Hemp Fibers. This is a fact!
Forests act as the great moisture regulator drawing raining fall to them, then storing that rain fall, purifying it in wet lands and slowly letting it off into streams, rivers and then back to the oceans again. There is simply not enough forest and wetlands today to sustain the life that exists on this planet right now, imagine what thirty more years of clear cutting will do to this thin and fragile layer of life clinging to this beautiful blue planet.
Deserts are spreading like the wild fires that help create them as a result of the lack of moisture being stored in the land because we humans have adopted the attitude that the Anglo Saxon is superior to all other things in nature and that somehow we have divined that god gave all of nature to use as we see fit. The problem is that the nature of things is far to complex for the human psyche to rap it's limited brain power around. So when we act as though we're the only thing that matters to us and god, we take from nature with an arrogance that is destructive rather than respectful.
This why the Native American resorted to worshipping nature and as a result, studying nature's flow and cycles with a respect of equality or even higher status for all things in nature. They had already advanced past that arrogant stage in their development as a culture. They had witnessed their civilization collapse as ours is collapsing now and had learned from it. When my ancestors landed in Plymouth, MA in 1620 they thought they were meeting an inferior dark skinned people in need of scripture but in fact it was the Wompanoag Natives that saved my families life that first winter and then taught us how to survive in their lands and forests. As it turned out these forest people were our superiors. They taught us more then we ever taught them. This remains unchanged to this day. Can you just imagine what the forests must have looked like 400 years ago. I some times break down in tears at just the thought
There has never been a more opportune time than right now to push this issue over the top in America. Americans are clearly developing vast majorities for Cannabis reform on all levels. Industrial Hemp is no different than any other Cannabis product in creating radically far more good than any bad that has yet to be proven to exist.
The Hemp Lobby must take advantage of the leaps and bounds that Cannabis on all other levels has achieved. The conservative approach of separating Hemp from the greater Cannabis Campaign is no longer necessary when facing conservative federal judges as it was when Woody Harrelson, David Frankel, David Bronner, Jon Gettman, Vote Hemp, and myself were organizing the legal team that eventually defeated the D.E.A.s. attempt to ban Hemp Foods and Cosmetics here in America. It can be said that the Hemp Lobby have aided the sanity that the medical and legalization Cannabis Community has experienced in recent times as a result of having Hemp Products on store shelve at Whole Foods to your local health food store.
With a new generation rising up and gaining power but still being victimized by the hypocrisy of the Drug War Industrial Complex while at the same time Cannabis Activists are succeeding in changing the laws, like we have done here in Massachusetts decriminalizing Cannabis, now is the moment for the entire Cannabis Community to come together and demand the greatest Cannabis reform of all and the greatest environmental reform necessary to make the landing from our global ecological collapse a great deal softer. The fact is, sanity is rising as more Americans are getting involved in politics and protecting their personal interests as those interests play out in policy making on the local and national level.
The way the Canadians opened up Hemp Agriculture was to gain public support by showing the link to the deforestation of Canada. Canada has not succeeded in changing the pulp and paper industry much but Canadian farmers have benefited from the growing and selling Industrial Hemp Products primarily to U.S. markets where American Farmers are banned from participating. Canadians have however set aside more first growth virgin forests than any other nation on earth as a result of Canadian environmental campaigns which Hemp played a role in.
The fact that Americans can go to the super market and buy hemp food and cosmetic products is a great achievement but will be meaningless unless Industrial Hemp Fibers are not restored to their proper place in American Farm Fields and in our pulp, paper and packaging products. The fact is, Hemp will only be of real economic benefit to the majority of American farmers if the majority of the Hemp they are growing is for fiber. To do this, Industrial Hemp Fibers must displace Wood Fiber as the pulp and paper industry's main feed stock for the manufacture of pulp, paper and packaging products.
I have yet to see a more impacting, user friendly marketing device other than Hemp products themselves on the back ground, the middle ground and the fore ground of Industrial Hemp than Jack Herer's book "The Emperor Wears No Clothes"
( http://www.jackherer.com/chapters.html ). In order to capture the imagination of the American public there has to be a good story to go along with the seemingly long drone of the benefits of Hemp. A story that encompasses political intrigue and political corporate corruption as well as a happy ending based on people power. We would be wise to establish once and for all Jack's book as the bible for main stream America's adoption of sanity when it comes to saving and restoring the earth's forests.
Without a doubt, the fact that Americans can go to the super market and buy hemp food and cosmetic products has been the best marketing device for establishing Hemp as norm in the consumer market. So, if Hemp is good enough for me to eat and Hemp is good enough for me to wash my balls, then why isn't Hemp good enough for me to wipe my ass.
So Long Jack, Have a Good Trip and Please Come Back Soon! Oh and Happy But Sad Earth Day!
This article is dedicated to Jack Herer - June 18, 1939 - April 15, 2010
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