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What Do Woody And Winnipeg Have In Common? Paper Made From Wheat
June 24, 2013
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Woody Harrelson and a package of Step Forward Paper (Images: AP)

He's best known as an actor, but Woody Harrelson has always had other passions, including the fight against deforestation.

His (and others') approach to reducing the number of trees we cut down? Change the way we make paper.

Currently, 90 per cent of all paper pulp comes from wood, and paper production accounts for about 35 per cent of all felled trees worldwide, or about four billion trees each year.

But Harrelson didn't just opt to protest what he sees as unsustainable paper practices. He decided to get into the paper business himself - and he's hoping to open a factory in Winnipeg one of these years.

Along with his partner, Jeff Golfman, Harrelson started a company called Step Forward Paper that makes paper products out of 80 per cent wheat-straw waste and 20 per cent wood fibre.

According to Golfman and Harrelson, buying two boxes of their paper saves one tree. And it's available to buy right now, at least in the U.S.: Staples is the exclusive seller there.

This interest in forest ecology is nothing new for Harrelson. When he was 12 years old he wrote an essay about the devastation of forests. It was supposed to be five pages. He ended up writing 50 (mild irony alert).

"I was fascinated by everything that was going on - the devastation of the forests and the ecological degradation," he told Forbes. "That was my early interest."

And when he was on our program in 2011, George asked him what he'd do if he was President.

His answer (at around 10:55 in the video below) was: "The first thing I would do would be to stop cutting down national forests and ancient forests. I'd put a moratorium on it."

Step Forward Paper currently makes its product in India, but the company has plans to build a "state-of-the-art eco mill" in Winnipeg, which is expected to be completed in three to five years, Harrelson says.

Once that facility's complete, the company plans to remove wood pulp from the equation entirely, using only agricultural waste from farms to make its products.

"It's going to be 100 per cent non-wood. It will also be the same price or less than wood-based paper," he told Forbes.


The Step Forward website also includes a counter listing the number of trees the company's paper says its paper has saved, and the reduction in CO2 achieved.

"I'm one of those people who just became attached to the forest," Harrelson told TIME. "The knowledge that those forests could one day be gone because of clear-cutting is just too painful for me. We need to do something about this."


Woody Harrelson On Freaking Out

PHOTO: Woody Harrelson Backstage

THE BIO: Woody Harrelson

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