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Old 11-09-2009, 05:38 PM
 
Location: Oregon
1,457 posts, read 5,729,519 times
Reputation: 1414

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Nothing like a nice semi-controversial Grinch-like garden topic once in a while.

Although its very true, so that keeps it pretty upbeat and positive.

It's been years since I tried sheet mulching with cardboard, but currently I use plenty of compost. Sometimes cultivating and other times not. So last month a thought comes to mind "what happens when paper is not recycled because of no-till gardening?". And I decided that my answer resided with research about recyling information, not gardening information.

Keep in mind that which way this swings depends on whether recycling is available near you. In our area, trucks come to curbside weekly.

Based on my findings, I compiled and uploaded a webpage showing the other side of this. Since our own links are taboo here, you may have to find the long version on your own.

In short, putting cardboard or paper under compost means it's not recycled. Gardeners who do that, cause more trees to be cut down for brand new cardboard. The water use rises by hundreds and thousands of gallons per pickup load. There is a lot of electricity and oil consumption on top of that.

As I researched this, my suspicions were confirmed, but the numbers were far greater than I had ever expected. Oh - forgot to mention the chemical pollution released too.

Again, it's all a matter of where you live and whether or not your cardboard or paper would provide more benefit for recycling or not.

Gathering the information helped me see more clearly that there is a big difference between sustainable gardening and gardening for sustainability.

Yours truly,

The Grinch - LOL

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Old 11-10-2009, 07:47 AM
 
Location: Albemarle, NC
7,730 posts, read 13,563,694 times
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I would have just thrown the cardboard in the trash.
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Old 11-10-2009, 08:37 AM
 
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If all you're counting is trees, then it does seem to be a net loss. However, if you look at what is being added back to the earth, and what is being removed from it, perhaps it's more of a balance.
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Old 11-10-2009, 08:57 AM
 
4,906 posts, read 8,031,510 times
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Doesn't it take lots of gas, electricity, and water to recycle cardboard also?

There is no recycling program where I live....the newspapers (what I use) would have gone in the trash.
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Old 11-10-2009, 05:56 PM
 
Location: Oregon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luvvarkansas View Post
Doesn't it take lots of gas, electricity, and water to recycle cardboard also?

There is no recycling program where I live....the newspapers (what I use) would have gone in the trash.
I think I can reply to CHTransplant too ...

It does, but much less. A general article is on Wikipedia for paper recycling with some info. But start Googling:

Recycling Cardboard Facts
Paper Recycling Facts

Include oil, and sulphur dioxide and electricity in your searches. There are reams of pages online.

The adding back to the earth part is not much of a benefit from adding to the earth. Cardboard is a tree product. Consider that only 6% of a tree, if that, is from the soil. Probably similar for paper. And I think it takes 2 tons of tree to make one ton of paper. Anyhow, if I put paper under my mulch and don't recycle, very little is returned to the earth, and the result is that a portion of some tree needs to be removed to replace the paper.

If a gardener is only using 10 pounds of paper, that's likely inconsequential. But I think for 200 square feet or more, it becomes worth considering if we add all those gardeners together from several continents where the practice is promoted.
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Old 11-10-2009, 06:02 PM
 
Location: Covington County, Alabama
245,503 posts, read 85,409,016 times
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In my state trees are planted like a crop for harvest for paper and cardboard products. And then replanted. One plus is the help clean the air. If there is no market then the land will be used for no telling what. Urban sprawl?
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Old 11-10-2009, 07:57 PM
 
Location: Nebraska
4,178 posts, read 10,255,838 times
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I use shredded paper that you can get from dozens of businesses and government offices (imagine that). It DOES decompose right along with the manure. THAT should tell you something... LOL
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Old 11-10-2009, 11:39 PM
 
Location: Oregon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCGranny View Post
I use shredded paper that you can get from dozens of businesses and government offices (imagine that). It DOES decompose right along with the manure. THAT should tell you something... LOL

It tells us it decomposes.

Seems that you are connoting something about the nature of the paper after its moved through the bowels of the government system.

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Old 11-12-2009, 12:09 PM
 
4,906 posts, read 8,031,510 times
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Better for me to use it in my yard than for it to go to the landfill, which is where it would end up here.....no recycling.

Like Nomadicus said, trees are planted like crops around here. I realize that old-growth forests are cool and some should be preserved, and I don't think anyone would be for cutting down the California Redwoods and such as that, but hey, SOME trees can be used and more will grow.
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Old 12-31-2009, 06:25 PM
 
5 posts, read 47,535 times
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Default The dark side

A couple of things regarding this.

I do use newsprint and therefore do take it out of the recycling stream. However, there are a few things that I think balance this out.

1. I am using fine paper from mail and from waste at work and shredding it to add to my compost. I think that shredding it for a compost source takes less energy than recycling it. In addition, I am saving most of my leaves to use as well, saving the energy that the city would use to transport them to a compost operation.

2. My lasagna gardening goal is to build a garden that requires less water. This affects the sustainability issue.

3. I have not used pesticides or herbicides for years before my community restricted them. However, I was unable to do the optimal amount of weeding for a few years and ended up with violets and black medic in the lawn and garden beds. Thus, I am trying to get rid of those in the most environmentally responsible way I know. Sheet mulching does that.

4. I am putting in more vegetables so that is also more sustainable than buying them.

5. Egads, yes, I have some lawn - but I am reseeding with a low growth low water type of fescue. Again, it is not ideal, but is still more sustainable than what I have now.

All in all, diverting the newspapers and the fine paper to use in sheet mulching may not be sustainable, but overall, I think that what I am doing has more benefits than costs.
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