Teaching Children About Paper and Sustainability

As part of an annual awareness program, members of the Marlboro Mill Wood Procurement Team and four co-op students visited Bennettsville Intermediate School on May 21, 2013, to talk about wood products and demonstrate how paper is made. The Wood Procurement Team has been doing this presentation at various schools and organizations for the past 16 years.

Ken Stuart, Joe DuBois, Scott Smearman and Matt Krawiec, all of Wood Procurement, and Marshall Cooley, Chandler Thomas, Michael Bailey and Drew Batten, co-op students, met with 150 students from six fourth-grade classes.

Students attended a classroom presentation on the many consumer products made from trees and on why trees and forests are important to all of us. Visual aids of products that we use every day were shown to the children (“Goods from the Woods,” a resource provided by North Carolina Forestry Association) along with wood chips used to make paper. The class also discussed ecology, wildlife, forestry sustainability, the carbon cycle and the importance of forest management. Souvenir items (“Goods from the Woods” box, pencils, literature and a link to Domtar’s Forest Academy) were given to the teachers and students to reinforce the important benefits trees have on our lives.

Each student also got the opportunity to enjoy the hands-on process of making a sheet of paper. The basic process of papermaking was explained and demonstrated. The students took pulp and put it in a household blender with water. The blended slurry was then poured over a screen, removed and sandwiched between two finer screens to squeeze out excess water.

Afterwards, they put the wet slurry sheet between two blotter sheets and further pressed it to simulate our process of removing water from the paper. Finally, the sheet of damp paper was taken to a table where each student dried the sheet with a clothes iron.

While they made paper, students were reminded of the importance of staying in school and learning as much as they could about math, science and reading, and how these vital subjects were needed to perform jobs in the papermaking industry.