Last December I decided that we should make paper. That was one of the decisions that got the ball rolling on this Independence Homestead adventure! I was enjoying my winter break, and I was reading online about different recycling strategies people had implemented. All of them centered around reusing something currently being wasted in the community.
I thought about what was being wasted in my community, and how I could use that waste to create something useful. Since I teach at a school, I have access to a ton (probably quite literally) of wasted paper. Teachers accidentally copy something wrong, and they just recopy it correctly and toss the first copies. Or a teacher makes more copies than actually needed. Or students use paper, and then are done with it. While the school does have recycle bins, not all that paper makes it into those recycle bins. Also, it takes a lot of energy to recycle that paper on an industrial level. Plus there’s all the gas being used to transport it to the recycling facilities.
So I looked into what it would take to make paper using recycled paper. It turns out the process is quite simple. You need some containers, water, a blender, frames with screening, and of course paper. We already had access to all of this other than an old blender (didn’t want to use the same one we use for food). Within a few weeks we found a blender at a yard sale. To really make the paper in a manner that’s as environmentally friendly as possible, we decided to use water we collected in rain barrels. So even though this idea occurred in December, we haven’t made any paper yet since George installed our rain barrels just a couple weeks ago. I’ve been collecting paper at the school since January, so we have a large stockpile to use. It’s raining right now and our rain barrels are filling up, so I think papermaking is in our near future!