From the medical sheets in maternity wards to our death certificates, paper charts the course of our lives. Paradoxically, it spreads ideas and learning as well as thousands of tons of junk mail, yet our dependence on this material is damaging our planet and creating mountains of unnecessary waste.
Mandy Haggith explores our society's obsession with paper, from its invention in China 2000 years ago to the millions of tonnes we now use every year. Following the paper trail around the world, Mandy discovers the human stories of those affected by the industry, from a Russian ecologist, a Finnish logger and Indonesian tribal leaders, to a Canadian publisher and a Vietnamese paper technologist.
In the process, she uncovers the paper industry's dirtiest secrets and sets out simple, practical steps we can take to minimise our own personal use of 20 tonnes of paper over our lifetime.