Add a new enthusiasm to effervescent Woody Harrelson's long list of planetary passions.
Now the actor, biodiesal promoter and raw food afficinado is aiming to make no-tree paper, made of 100 percent agricultural waste.
At the end of October, Canadian-based Prairie Pulp and Paper, a company Harrelson has an interest in, got the seal of approval from the carbon measuring group, Offsetters for it's modestly-named Step Forward Paper, made of 80% straw and 20% Forest Stewardship Council paper.
And now, Harrelson is revved for the next phase in his 14-year entrepreneurial odyssey to go completely forest-free.
"It's been a dream of mine for a long time. I've been really fairly hopeful that eventually it would come to pass,'' says Harrelson, sipping "organic'' water as he speaks to me by phone recently from the house he's renting in Atlanta where he's shooting The Hunger Games sequel.
As demonstrated by phase one, he's not an idle hypothesizer. Step Forward's 80% effort was launched in August, with the collaboration of enviro org Canopy - they facilitated the publishing of Margaret Atwood's In Other Worlds, on stock from grain refuse and recycled paper) - and is now available in Staples.
When Offsetters, did the computations on the product, they concluded that based on non-renewable energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, waste-water and aquatic acidification, Step Forward's footprint was smaller than 100 percent recycled paper - a real paradigm breaker in the industry.
At this point, the product is made in India, from Indian straw and FSC Europeon pulp - the company says it was difficult to find a plant with the knowhow. But the real endgame, says Harrelson, is the establishment of a factory in Manitoba, to stun the market with a 100% wheat straw product - and in the process offer a new revenue source to farmers.
Here's excerpts from my interview with Harrelson:
Why did you embark on this project?
I'm a bit of a forest lover - a treehugger. Years ago I got hooked up with an engineer who knows about making a non-wood pulp and paper plant and he suggested Jeff Golfman. who's fortunately been working hard to make this happen and we've come a long ways in 14 years.
What's your relationship with trees, anyway?
Strictly platonic. But I am a big tree lover; I've had my biggest experience in forests just hanging out with friends or other activists. I love getting into a biodiverse forest. There are some places in Costa Rica that are beautiful pristine rain forests. I just have this great connection to forests.
Are you worried about the survival of some forests over others?
When forests are cut, over half of that is used to make paper, alot of it from threatened forest, particularly in Canada, so it behooves us to stop using trees for paper and start relying on the farmer. Where we're targetting a mill in Manitoba, there's a huge amount of ag waste, they're just burning and landfilling. It really makes sense to make use of it.
Do you have great market hopes for treeless paper?
We have engineering firms that tell us this will be a great thing not just ecologically but economically. Certainly if something doesn't make money, it will be alot harder to get. That's not the reason for it, but hopefully all the people involved will make money.
Will newsprint come along soon?
Initially it will be office paper and books and boxboard. I would love [the company] to make newsprint - I'd love to see NOW made out of this paper. Anything to alleviate guilt without having to go to church.
How does it feel to be a walking ecological brand?
I'm just apprised of it now. You may over-rate me. I just want to see this happen. It's been a dream long enough; now I want it to be a reality.