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Alena’s Paper Collection

The trees have already worn their wonderful dresses. The leaves are quietly lying on the ground and rustling from time to time. It is the best season that nature gives us. Thanks to the trees for this magnificent beauty. We want this beauty to appear again next year, and every year thereafter.

Our forests are the "lungs" of the Earth. It is the natural habitat of animals and plants. One hectare of forest absorbs from the air 120-280 kg of carbon dioxide and releases 180-200 kg of oxygen during one sunny day. One medium-sized tree produces enough oxygen for 3 people.

Reading about it, don’t you start thinking about your involuntary cruelty to trees?  They remain silent, always humble, asking nothing in return, and yet, for the last 10 thousand years man has killed about 2/3 of the Earth's forests. According to the reports of the Food and Agricultural Organization, deforestation continues around the world with great speed and each year we lose 13 million hectares of forest, whereas in return we only grow 6 hectares.

In the era of ancient civilizations some rulers understood the consequences of unconscious destruction of forests. The Babylonian king Hammurabi published the first law in history which 'punished with death' people who were found chopping down trees in the Babylonian state. I wish there were more people today that had the wisdom of this great man.

How much paper is thrown out every day from your office and house? How many people sort their garbage out and separate the paper? Isn’t this just one way for you to do something towards saving forests and other natural resources? Besides the fact that landfills will no longer be filled with waste paper, less wood would be used for the manufacturing of paper and we could contribute towards the protection of our forests and our planet.

Unfortunately, paper collection, although simple, is still not common practise in todays world. So much of paper waste is burnt or simply buried under ground. If we want to make a difference and protect the planets resources everyone's participation is extremely valuable.

In the 1980s in the Soviet Union asked school students to collect as much waste paper as possible. It eventually became an annual event for the schools to collect waste paper and children would go from house to house, collecting old newspapers, books, and other paper.

Waste paper today, as in the olden days, is in demand again and not surprisingly since the process of recycling paper now has many economic advantages.

In the territory of post-soviet countries school students still participate in wastepaper collection today. Each pupil knows that 25,000 books can be made from 1 ton of recycled paper!

In Belarus where I am from, the waste paper collection at my school in September 2012 was much bigger than it had ever been before. It was a record 20 kg per each student! As soon as I heard about the waste paper collection I decided to collect more than the previous collections and to involve as many students as possible in this action, and at the same time to set an example to others. Firstly we took all the paper that we didn’t need out of our houses and then we went to nearby houses, knocked on their doors and ask people for their waste paper.

Everybody, especially the old, were very happy that someone could help them get rid of their old books, newspapers, catalogs, copybooks and other piles of papers that had been stored for many years on their balconies and in their pantries. We were surprised how much they gave us! After weighing the amount of waste paper we received from 8 families we already had 60 kg!  We all were really excited about getting more and more and eventually decided to stop weighing our loads but rather give it to the school to weigh.
This was only the start! Sometimes there was an unexpected surprise like when one of my classmates' mother brought more than 200 kg of paper from her office to the school.

With the waste paper we collected we calculated that just our class alone had saved 10 trees, 20,000 liters of water, 1,000 kWh of electricity and prevented the release of 1,700 kg of CO2!

To conclude, if each class can surpass the rate given by the government, our school, which is only one among 24 others in our city, can save a park of trees, a pond of water and a part of the green life on Earth!

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