A Road Trip to Remember

November 2, 2012 by  
Filed under Agriculture, Blog, Deforestation, Front Page, Slideshow, Sustainability, Trees

Harry Johansing's road trip took him into beautiful forests, far older than any living human. Photo: Harry Johansing

Harry Johansing’s road trip took him into beautiful forests, far older than any living human. Photo: Harry Johansing

Harry Johansing is one of my personal heroes. As the founder of EcoPaper, Harry is easily identified as an environmentalist and a passionate protector of trees. But he’s also a wise businessman, who knows that the way to build a sustainable business is ultimately to live in a sustainable society on a sustainable planet. Harry wrote the following letter to his friends and supporters of EcoPaper. I asked his permission to reprint it here, as it bears a message too few of us are aware of. I invite you to read and ponder Harry’s message. ~Julia Wasson, Publisher


Recently, I took a road trip up to Oregon with my family to enjoy the outdoors and visit some of the oldest and biggest trees of the western coast. I enjoyed visiting with my family and sharing knowledge about the trees, such as the type of tree, its age, and the breathtaking feelings that come to me when I am amongst these giant ancient forests. Many of these trees are over a thousand years old and have managed to survive thoughtless deforestation!

Along with all of the spectacular rivers, mountains, wildlife, and scenery, I saw a few telltale signs of man’s greed impacting our Earth.

A freighter sits in a US port, loading lumber to haul to China. Photo: Harry Johansing

A freighter sits in a US port, loading lumber to haul to China. Photo: Harry Johansing

One thing I noticed on my recent trip was a decreased number of lumber mills from similar trips that started in 1990. We are led to believe that lumber mills are closing down due to environmental concerns. If that were true, then we could logically assume that we are not continuing the destruction of forests in our country and are managing our natural resources better. However, this is not the case!

There’s another reason lumber mills are closing, but it’s probably not what you think. What I saw — and have photographed — is large ocean freighters being loaded with our lumber and shipped off to China. There, the raw lumber is manufactured into goods, then shipped back to us. The most disturbing part is that we have not only increased logging, we have, at the same time, decreased the manufacturing of wood products here in the USA. This means fewer jobs domestically and more waste, increased carbons released in the atmosphere, and natural resources being used inefficiently.

I understand industry, although I wish that it were more responsible and practiced more sustainable methods. If I could have it my way, we would not cut trees at all, but I have to be realistic about using wood. If we are going to cut trees, the wood should be used for beautiful and comfortable furniture and cozy homes. There is no logical reason why paper should come from trees for any use at all.

Logging has benefits in warm homes and fine furniture, but it leaves huge scars. Photo: Harry Johansing

Logging has benefits in warm homes and fine furniture, but it leaves huge scars. Photo: Harry Johansing

Upon my return home, I was channel surfing and saw a commercial for a show called “American Loggers” and another called “Ax Men.” The entire premise of the reality shows is to follow loggers around while they cut and transport our forests to ports where the clear-cut trees are then shipped out to China and back to us. This part, you do not see in the TV series.

It’s no surprise that a good amount of what’s on television is garbage trying to sell something truly unsustainable, polluting our minds with subliminal messages about inconsequential consumerism. Just as violence has been integrated into entertainment and has desensitized viewers, these shows are creating a detachment from our emotions and natural connections to our Earth.

The shows accomplish this by putting a personality behind a chainsaw. Instead, why not put a personality behind the unique trees, which should be recognized as heroes? My point is that we should be re-enforcing positive ideas and beliefs about taking care of our planet, not about destroying it to make profit.

Harry Johansing sits in the hollow of a massive tree, bearing a sign that says, "Will Work for Sustainability." Photo: Courtesy Harry Johansing

Harry Johansing sits in the hollow of a massive tree, bearing a sign that says, “Will Work for Sustainability.” Photo: Courtesy Harry Johansing

Yes, people have to work to survive, but there are jobs and careers that don’t involve harming Earth’s natural resources. There are even jobs that help the environment.

I ask you to honestly think about the message that these types of shows are sending to not only our youth but also to the rest of the world. In some places, trees are sacred and are celebrated as unique living beings that only enhance human interaction with the natural world.

As I finished this letter, I thought of a quote, which is my favorite poster in my office. It reads:

When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned, we will realize that money cannot be eaten.
— Saying of the Cree Indians

Harry Johansing

Guest Writer

Blue Planet Green Living

Ecopreneur Harry Johansing is the founder and CEO of EcoPaper, Inc./ a.k.a. Costa Rica Natural Paper Co. Harry’s passion for trees and the environment led him to develop a way to use discarded banana stalks and other agricultural waste to make paper. Find out more at www.ecopaper.com Related Posts Ecopreneur Makes Paper in Paradise My 5: Harry Johansing, Costa Rica Natural and EcoPaper

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