Tree Free, Green and Alternative Papers

Long before paper, such items as clay tablets, leaves, tree bark, and animal skins were used for written communication. Egyptians used papyrus as a substrate for writing as early as 2200 B.C. So called paper has been made for about two thousand years now. Some of the fiber sources for making early papers included hemp, tree bark, and old clothes and rags. As paper use grew, so did the list of fiber sources, from grasses to mulberry to bamboo. Wastepaper was actually used in making paper as early as the 11th century A.D. in Japan. So, in retrospect “recycled “paper which is the trend today, really isn’t a new thing.

Papermaking came later to the table in Europe, when old clothes and rags were used almost exclusively. The early 1800’s brought a short-lived usage of hemp, flax, tree bark, and straw to make paper in England. Cloth rag fiber appeared to be easier and better, and the others were abandoned.

Starting in 1840 in the U.S, hemp was used to make Manila paper, which is less processed and more fibrous. It was made of old hemp ropes from Manila, hence the name. Manila envelopes are still used today.

Trees as a source of paper fiber have only been used for a little over a hundred years. The rapidly increasing demand for paper brought about by the printing press, necessitated huge amounts of a consistent fiber and trees filled that niche. The seemingly endless supplies of trees, however could be in danger someday of running out.
About one out of every three trees harvested today ends up as pulp for paper products and sadly trees from old growth forests are still often felled to meet the demand. Not only are we depleting our forests, but processing paper is a dirty business; Paper mills reliance on chlorine bleach makes them among the most harmful to the environment.

Recycled paper is still originally tree based, but those trees have already been cut, so in essence they are being recycled. Another advantage of recycled paper is that it CAN be made easily with less toxic processes, and thus result in less environmentally unsound wastes from manufacturing processes.
Fortunately, the world is starting to wake up to alternatives to tree based paper. What was originally used for “paper” is being used again.

It’s encouraging that more plantation timber is being used for paper products and more paper is being recycled; but perhaps the way of the future is totally tree-free paper  from plants that grow incredibly fast, thrive in poor conditions and allow for a more resource- friendly and less energy intensive method of paper production.
Finding tree-free paper isn’t always easy outside of countries like India and China. But where there’s demand, supply will follow.

Some of the alternative fibers being used for tree-free paper:

Tobacco leaves. Using one ton of tobacco fiber saves an estimated 17 trees. This cigar fiber is processed and converted into paper without the use of harmful chemicals. The leaves are separated from their veins during the processes involved in the tobacco industry, and are used to make tobacco paper

Coffee beans. Paper is made with peels, leaves and small beans which are separated from the coffee that will be processed. The coffee skins are used to attain a fibrous texture.

Kenaf. The Kenaf plant is considered one of the most promising alternatives to virgin soft and hard woods for paper production. Kenaf is a type of hibiscus, indigenous to West and can be found in South America and even Italy.

Mango. Mango paper is usually from Thailand. It is made from kozo (paper mulberry) and mango leaf.

Banana. Made from waste bark of the banana tree which is cut after the bananas have been ripened and converted into paper and stationery products without the use of harmful chemicals.

Jute. Jute twine is readily available in craft stores….it’s usually brownish in color and very coarse. It can also be made into high-quality writing and specialty papers.

Straw. Since straw fibers are very similar to wood fibers, it makes an excellent paper.

Tamarind. The paper contains petals and leaves from tamarind tree.

Coconut. The husks of coconuts were usually discarded, but the fiber is now being used to create paper with a thick texture.

Hemp. Industrial hemp is an incredibly useful plant and easy to grow. It produces strong fibers. Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence for the USA on paper made of hemp.

Cotton. Paper can be made from old cotton rags, clothing and general cotton waste. Cotton fiber paper is known to last hundreds of years without appreciable fading, discoloration, or deterioration, so it is often used for important documents, such as the archival copies of dissertations or theses.

Hopefully, making paper from non-tree sources isn’t environmental wishful thinking. It is now being done in at least 45 countries right now, in more than 300 mills.
Rossi is a company making serious in- roads into using tree-free bi-products into some of our line.

Eco- friendly Italian Papers

These eco- friendly papers are made using process residues from organic products to replace up to 15% of virgin tree pulp. By –product from citrus fruits, kiwi, almonds hazelnuts and lavender, which would normally be processed as fillers in animal food and fertilizers…or simply dumped in landfills, are among the natural, raw materials used. Elements of this material are actually visible on the paper surface giving a distinctive texture and appearance. The papers are FSC certified *, contain 30% post-consumer waste and are produced with 100% green energy. This production process is protected by European patent.

* ‘FSC’ stands for Forest Stewardship Council, an organization that works to promote the practice of sustainable forestry worldwide. The Forest Stewardship Council sets environmental standards for forest products and certifies that these standards have been met. When you see an FSC  label on a product that paper or  wood has been sourced in an environmentally-friendly, socially responsible and economically viable manner.

These fish letterpress double cards with matching envelopes have been printed on an antique printing press. All are produced from high quality Italian cardboard made with algae. * Shiro “alga” is an Italian paper made from algae (which would otherwise clog up fragile marine areas) and FSC pulp. It is fully biodegradable and recyclable.

*Production of this environmental paper started in the early ’90s when pollution in the Adriatic Sea resulted in the Venice Lagoon becoming swamped with huge amounts of algae. This reduced the natural oxygen level in the water which in turn killed fish.
In order to combat this problem, algae was collected from the lagoon, dried and finely ground into “flour”. The flour was combined with FSC fibers to make a high quality environmentally friendly speckled paper where the speckles are the milled algae.
The 50,000 metric tons of algae collected each year is the papermaking equivalent to 30,000 metric tons of trees.

Notebooks and Notecards

These old style letterpress double cards with matching envelopes and luggage tags, have been printed on an antique printing press. All are produced with high quality cardboard and made in part using residues from organic citrus.

A total of six vintage and exclusive designs come in notebooks and notepads also.
To see more, visit:

Many of our newer products are environmentally friendly; something we are proud to promote. We are committed to making it easier and simpler for our customers to make smarter choices and to do the right thing for our earth. We hope, by conducting our business in more sustainable ways, to help preserve our environment for all future generations.

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