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Today's number: 700 lbs.

AP Photo/Jim Cole/FILE

(Read caption) A paper mill in Berlin, N.H.

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[Source: Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry]

That's more than eight fully developed trees. Making those trees into paper requires about 130 gallons of oil, about 2,500 gallons of water, and generates about 30 cubic feet of solid waste.

By comparison, the average Western European uses 440 pounds of paper annually, and the average African uses only 14 pounds.

 

Recycle According to a report by the Environmental Paper Network, only about half of US office paper is recovered for recycling. The rest sits in landfills, where it decomposes and releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. According to the EPA, about one sixth of the mass in landfills is made up of paper. So we could all be recycling more. Check out Earth911 for details about recycling in your community.

Recycling is just a start, though. A paper fiber can be recycled only five to seven times before it becomes too short. So we'll also need ways to reduce our consumption, which brings us to . . .

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