Many baby boomers and other people born before the 1980s have written climate change off as a conspiracy theory, or something they won’t have to worry about since they’ll be long gone before any real consequences take place. But as our planet spirals further into an irreversible climate crisis, young individuals might be wondering what they can do to help. The irresponsibility and lack of concern from older generations has many students taking it upon themselves to act more sustainably, attempting to undo the damage done to our climate. After seeing videos of at-home papermaking on my TikTok For You page, I realized that millennials and members of Generation Z are the planet’s only hope for redemption.
I first saw a tutorial about papermaking on TikTok, but since then have seen other videos about it on Instagram and Twitter as well. Sustainable ideas are being spread at an exponential pace thanks to Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and other platforms. One publication from the International Journal of Communication examines how social media helps promote sustainability, specifically in places of higher education.
Since younger generations are more technologically savvy, it makes sense that they are the primary vessels for which this information is spread. More than that, individuals in their 20s are on social media more than other demographics and are likely the ones who will be seeing and interacting with eco-friendly advice.
Instagram accounts like @get.waste.ed, @sustainable.collective and @treehuggerdotcom have amassed nearly half a million followers collectively; they encourage anything and everything sustainable. With new and inventive environmental practices being shared every day, there is a plethora of content on the web for students to explore.
Papermaking, though one of the more mesmerizing processes, is not the only sustainable practice going viral on these platforms. Watching a time-lapse of eco-friendly hacks from Blossom or Buzzfeed is arguably one of the best ways to absentmindedly spend time on your phone.
Among these encapsulating sustainable hacks are repurposing old bottles and jars, making plastic bags into cute necklaces and naturally dyeing your own fabrics. Papermaking is especially fascinating to watch, and it’s a time consuming but easy alternative to buying paper products from a store.
After watching a papermaking video, it’s almost impossible not to want to try it yourself. The entire process takes a few days to complete, but the finished product is undoubtedly worth it. There are a few steps that can be approached in different ways, so doing your own research before beginning is important.
How To Make Your Own Paper
Essentially, you start with paper scraps found around your house, such as junk mail, old newspapers and last week’s shopping list. Rip up your paper into small pieces, soak the scraps in water and then mix them with a blender to make pulp. After creating your pulp mixture, pour it into a large container and then sift it into a standard letter-sized mold and deckle.
Next, press your paper with a roller or wooden block before setting it out to dry over the next day or two. When your papermaking process is complete, you will be left with flexible, home-made recycled paper to write on.
Though recycled paper might lack the shiny luster that accompanies a factory-produced version, paper made at home has a unique texture and endearing look. You can bind your recycled paper together with a cover and some string to create a journal. You can also use your product for greeting cards, thank-you notes, to-do lists or a painting canvas. The process might take a bit of time to complete, but the final product will have you feeling good about your sustainable new hobby.
The Environmental Benefits of Papermaking
While making your own paper won’t immediately solve the climate crisis, Mother Earth will appreciate your contribution. According to bluecatpaper.com, creating one ton of mill paper destroys 270 trees. This statistic doesn’t consider the other detrimental results of factory paper production, like wasting fossil fuel energy or carbon dioxide emissions.
Papermaking doesn’t tear down any trees or dump harmful chemicals into the environment, and the drying process is powered through solar energy. This sustainable pastime is a win-win for you and the planet.
Papermaking is one of the numerous sustainable activities younger generations are adopting. As global warming becomes more dire with each passing minute, implementing these eco-friendly ideas into our everyday lives is a must. Big companies are refusing to take accountability and doing little to reverse the damage they’re causing. With total neglect from large corporations and older generations, students have assumed the responsibility of helping the planet through any means possible.
Greta Thunberg, Autumn Peltier and other young activists are individuals that millennials and members of Generation Z can look up to for guidance. With more and more students looking for ways to help our planet, younger generations are a promising hope for the future. Though it’s unfortunate that such a big responsibility falls on the shoulders of individuals under 30, students adopting these changes will hopefully inspire parents, grandparents and older relatives to follow suit.
Undoing the damage that our climate has endured for hundreds of years can be a daunting and overwhelming task. However, finding small, fun ways to be more environmentally conscious is both encouraging and easier to accomplish. With a bit of research, some daily changes and lots of creativity, younger generations can be the much-needed change in a world aching for a revolution. Making your own paper is just one part of a much larger movement. By switching to papermaking at home, you can have cute and affordable stationary while also helping to save our planet.