Before the invention of paper, many materials such as papyrus, slate, clay, waxed tablets and parchment made from animal skins were used for writing. The first use of paper from trees is believed to have originated in China.
In the year AD 105 Cai Lun, a court official who served in the Chinese imperial court, is believed to have been the first to produce sheets of paper by using tree bark and old rags. We have certainly come a long way since and in modern times an assortment of materials has been used to produce the paper we use today. In fact, it is only as recent as 1843 that paper was primarily made from trees. Up until that point, it was almost exclusively made from recycled textiles like hemp, linen and cotton. Now, nearly 200 years later only a small percentage of paper is made from non-wood fibers, but that is changing slowly, but surely.
These days, there is good reason to invest in alternative fibers. The North American paper and pulp industry is actually a renewable resource because the trees are harvested sustainably from farms and replanted and so are no different than other farmed products. However, as consumers continue to grow more environmentally conscious, many are willing to pay a premium for products they deem as more earth-friendly, even if our pulp industry is from a farmed source. Some claim that alternative fibers require less chemicals and water to produce paper, while others dispute that claim. Some people argue that there are not enough commercially viable alternative fiber sources to meet the demands of the paper industry, yet others contend that crops such as wheat, hemp, sugarcane and cotton grow faster and if the demand were higher, the supply would inevitably catch up.
While the feasibility of converting the paper industry to a majority of alternatively sourced tree-free fibers can be argued, we at Announcement Converters continue to be at the forefront of this alternative fiber revolution that is currently taking place. Cotton fibers which have always been the gold standard of paper making due to its durability, elegant, and luxurious feel makes it a favorite amongst our customers. We offer it in every popular brand from Crane’s Lettra, Crane’s Crest, Savoy, Neenah Cotton, Gmund Cotton, Rising Museum Board and Strathmore Impress. When it comes to 100% cotton papers, we have always been at the forefront of offering it including cotton blend favorites such as Wild and Canaletto.
However, cotton is not the only type of alternative fiber being used today. Another alternative offered in our line of papers is made from bagasse, the dry pulpy residue left after the extraction of juice from sugarcane. Currently the AVEO brand created by Reich Paper is the only brand in our line that uses 100% sugar cane fibers.
With the growth of the cannabis industry, hemp is one of the most sought-after papers. To meet this growing demand, Announcement Converters now offers Neenah Folding Board with hemp, Gmund Bio-Cycle Cannabis and the newest line, Mohawk Renewal, where we are honored to be named the official stocking merchant by Mohawk. As the stocking merchant, we can offer the best pricing anywhere.
Mohawk Renewal isn’t just a line of hemp paper. It also includes paper made from 30% straw, a byproduct from the harvesting of wheat that otherwise would have been burned off or plowed under. Most interesting of all, is the recycled cotton subset in the Mohawk Renewal line where the T-Shirt White color paper is made from recycled cotton t-shirt rags. The Denim’s blue shade is made from 30% denim thread and 70% cotton t-shirt textile giving it the actual color of blue jeans.
Like the Mohawk Renewal line, the Gmund Bio-Cycle has more than just the hemp offering. They also carry Bio-Cycle Wheat (made from straw) and the truly unique Gmund Bio-Cycle Chlorophyll, made from up to 50% grass clippings.
Finally, we offer another unique renewable resource in Corkskin, which is literally paper made of cork. What many people may not realize is that cork comes from the cork oak tree. Cork oak trees have an average lifespan of 200 years and its bark is harvested without causing damage to the tree. Once the cork is harvested it grows back and can be re-harvested in a few years’ time.
What is most exciting about the renewable paper industry is that it is ever-evolving and there are always new and exciting types of paper being produced. Already on the market are papers made of stone. Yes, stone can be transformed into fully flexible paper with a smooth finish that is both durable and oil and tear resistant. There are people working on making paper from recycled plastics and my favorite type of alternative paper fiber--elephant dung! Elephants are vegetarians and so elephant poo is partially digested, dried out plants. What’s even more fascinating is that it requires less energy to produce because the elephant has already taken care of the first few steps of paper making through its digestive process. With that said, since so much of what we sell here at Announcement Converters is used for invitations, I’m not sure what people would think of licking their envelopes shut if they knew which alternative fiber was used to create the paper. I assure you though, all of our papers are safe!
One thing is for certain, renewable fibers are here to stay and Announcement Converters will be here to support this movement by stocking the largest variety of cardstocks, paper and envelopes. Announcement Converters is most definitely the one stop shop for alternative fiber renewable papers now and in the future.
By Jeff Greene, President
Announcement Converters Inc.