Weyerhaeuser, International Paper and Crane are experimenting with non-wood papers, which reduces deforestation, involves fewer pesticides, bleaches, and chemicals, and may create jobs in the bargain.
Supplier, Vision Paper, works with American farmers to grow a fibrous annual row crop called kenaf, which also helps the farmers diversify crop rotation.
Kenaf, a member of the hibiscus family from Africa, is just one alternative to tree-based paper, but entrepreneurs are also experimenting with paper made from bamboo, banana stalks, old money and sugar cane.
Companies finding a use for tree-free paper include The Gap, Sony and J.C. Penney, which use treeless papers in company documents. Kinko’s, a copy and printing chain, offers tree-free paper at some stores.