It's Not 1776 – But You Can Join the New Revolution
Revolutionary change can happen suddenly, whether it’s a "tea party" that results in a new nation or the near-instant embrace of a social media platform that reshapes our reality virtually overnight.
Or revolutions can take time, building slowly as more innovations occur, technological advances take hold and momentum grows.
In the race of the turtle and the hare, folklore tells us that the turtle has a good shot at coming out the winner.
Canopy’s work to kick-start commercial scale production of straw-based papers has been a bit of a turtle, making gradual yet important progress during the past few years. A game-changer for the availability of publication grade eco-papers, our Second Harvest campaign keeps on building momentum.
So much so that printers should keep a close watch on the future of straw paper — because the turtle has recently acquired a skateboard and things are really rolling now.
On March 15th, Canopy launched our "Say Yes" project across the North American wheat, rye and sorghum belt. Dubbed YIMBY! — Yes, In My Back Yard! — this exciting initiative is reaching out to agricultural communities to ask if they have the straw supply, infrastructure and other qualities necessary to become a candidate site for a new, green-job-creating straw pulp mill.
At the same time, we are liaising with entrepreneurs and investors, filling them in on the immense market demand for straw-based papers we have already quantified, the viable community opportunities for mill construction and the green-tech revolution that is ready to launch.
The response from rural America has been immediate and enthusiastic. Within 24 hours of launching the YIMBY campaign, the Canopy team was receiving applications from interested communities. Our detailed questionnaire will delve into the viability of each of these applicants. Do they have a high enough volume of straw available within a set radius? Do they have the water, road and power infrastructure needed to support a pulp mill? Is the work force available?
We’ve done the research, established the criteria with the advice and assistance of experts in the field, and we know the potential exists for many positive outcomes.
In fact, Canopy is already working closely with one community that meets all the criteria for a "Second Harvest" future.
On May 4, 2007, the city of Greensburg in Kiowa County, Kan., was hit with a massive EF5 tornado. This heartbreaking storm destroyed 95% of the community. But the spirit and determination of the people of Greensburg was unbroken. The city committed to rise from the rubble and re-build their lives and their community. And they made another commitment — a promise to go green.
In the wake of the devastation, the Greensburg City Council adopted a resolution that all buildings over 4,000-square-feet will be certified LEED Platinum. It was a bold and visionary decision and led to Greensburg’s enthusiasm to use the community’s resources — such as crop residues typically burned in the fields — to help build a greener future.
“Our city has worked with Canopy to pull together the information needed to make it clear to investors that we are ready to be a site for a straw pulp mill. As a model for green innovation, we encourage other communities to also say yes, let’s do this in our backyard,” invites Greensburg, Kansas Mayor Bob Dixson.
The Canopy team is excited by the response to YIMBY!, by Greensburg’s enthusiasm and by print customers willing and ready to purchase domestically produced straw papers. We’re also enthused with the technological advances taking place in the field.
Through our ongoing Second Harvest work, we’ve been privileged to be given confidential access to some of the latest developments and innovations. The revolution is truly gaining momentum!
The turtle has a skateboard, and straw pulp technology is on a roll. Progressive printers looking toward the future of their industry will be watching closely for news in the field(s).
As new scientific research highlights the critical importance of forests in stabilizing the global climate and mitigating the impacts of climate change, more and more governments will be forced to take action to protect high carbon value ancient forests. And more and more print customers will be looking to avoid contentious forest fiber and seek viable alternatives to tree paper.
The future of straw can revolutionize the printing industry.
Are you ready?
Catherine Stewart, a corporate campaigner with Canopy, an independent not-for-profit organization, has over 25 years of experience in the environmental movement on issues ranging from fisheries and forests conservation to water pollution and climate change. She was a lead negotiator on the Great Bear Rainforest campaign, brokering the moratorium in over 100 intact valleys and playing a pivotal role in crafting the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements in British Columbia.
Working with Canopy, an independent not-for-profit environmental organization, Stewart is continuing her efforts to increase conservation of the world’s threatened forests by assisting forest product customers in the development of sustainable purchasing policies.
Formerly a small business owner in a resource-based community, Stewart understands the importance of both jobs and a healthy environment to the viability and long-term future of rural communities.