Personal View: Why paper products are more eco-friendly than plastic


Hailey Gorzell, Staff reporter

Plastic is accumulating in the ocean at such a fast rate, that it is resulting in Marine life’s deaths, and there is no solution or end in sight. With paper products, we may be able to plant more trees, and halt deforestation percentages, but with plastic we will never be able to clean the whole ocean. There is no doubt that plastic and paper products are a huge part of our lives, but how are these products affecting our environment and what will our future hold?


The history of paper dates back 2,000 years ago, when inventors in China used paper cloths for their traditional handwritings and drawings, according to Paper Since then paper has continued to evolve into more modern products that most of us use today. Paper is used to make a wide variety of items such as printing paper, construction paper, wallpaper, and toilet paper.


The paper industry is booming and that has led to deforestation. The paper industry is responsible for only 10% of the world’s deforestation and that number continues to incline, according to That percentage is so small, if we continue to plant trees we could be at 0% deforestation due to the paper industry.


Every second around the clock, there is a football field size of the forest cut down, as stated by The World Counts. Most of this deforestation is due to the paper industry and cattle ranching. The more trees that are cut down the less oxygen there is and the smaller the forest will be, so we must plant more trees to save our oxygen.


Deforestation is responsible for 12% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, which leads to global warming, according to That percentage continues to incline, which means we must take action soon.


If we continue to cut down trees, one day there may be no more forest, resulting in; global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions and soil erosion, which means the soil will have nothing to hold in place, and the land will eventually become a desert. All the organisms that live in trees will no longer live there and the biodiversity will significantly decrease. 


But if we plant more trees, and protect our forests and wildlife from harm we will all be repaid with lower greenhouse gas emissions, resulting in a halt of global warming. When trees are cut down, new ones must be planted, and the cycle will remain unbroken.


Plastic is used to make items such as plastic straws, plastic plates, plastic water bottles, plastic bags, and many more products that we use almost everyday. More than half of the plastic we throw away will not end up recycled or in a landfill, but in the ocean. Most people do not mean for this to happen, but the plastic runs off into drainage systems, and soon finds its way to the ocean.


Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic is released into the ocean where there is already 150 million metric tons of it, according to Ocean Conservancy.Org. These numbers are so large it would be almost impossible to collect and properly recycle this amount of plastic on the oceans large scale.


At this current rate if we don’t stop consuming plastic, plastic will outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050, estimated by Biological Diversity. Org. Fish in the North Pacific ingest 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic each year, which can eventually lead to death. And while most think the plastic will eventually break down into smaller particles, it never does and this plastic will have no place to go but into Marine life’s body systems.


Paper will eventually break down and longer exist, while plastic will never break down, just become micro plastics that marine life and humans ingest in the sea. We can always plant more trees, but can we remove all the plastic from the ocean preventing Marine life from suffocation?


Most agree that paper is more eco-friendly, with products such as paper straws that are biodegradable and paper coffee cups that are biodegradable, knowing that paper will eventually break down into nothing, before even entering our environment. So I would have to say paper is more beneficial to the environment than plastic.


If we don’t shed light on the plastic issue, people will continue to think plastic is not harmful to the environment, while it really is. If we don’t replace the trees we cut down, global warming will continue to strike up even larger issues like natural disasters or severe weather occurrences like droughts.


While some say paper is better for the environment, others say trees that are replaced will take a very long time to grow, and would never measure up to the original tree cut down. So, what do you choose paper or plastic? Is it time for a new ecological advancement that could benefit us all?