10 Fun Facts About Paper

paperWe use paper every single day, and sometimes it is easy to take it for granted. The thin sheets we are taking notes on, storing in folders and scribbling down our shopping list on, holds a great many secrets, and can be much more interesting that it first seems. So, test your knowledge and find out how much you know about paper?

1. It’s Been Around A Long Time

Much older than you might think. Paper is thought to have originated in China roughly two thousand years ago in the year 105AD. It was invented by Cai Lun in the court of the Han Dynasty to replace other methods used. Before paper, materials like papyrus and animal skins were used to record and write on.

2. It Holds A Guinness World Record

Determined to elevate the humble sheet of paper to stardom, Japanese companies Masaki Takahashi and Kazuki Maeda made the worlds largest sheet of paper in 2009.

3. As Do The Things You Make With It

Anyone who attended school learned fairly early on how to make a paper aeroplane. The teachers bug bear, some people are a lot better at making them than others. A new world record of 69.14 metres was set in 2012 for the longest distance flown by a paper aeroplane. The record was set by Joe Ayoob using a plane designed by custom designer John Collins, beating the previous record of 63.19 metres by 6 metres.

4. One Tree Can Make A Lot Of Paper

Overall, most paper is made from wood. But while our paper might come in pre-set sizes, tree’s don’t, so it’s often hard to tell how many sheets can be made from a single tree. There have been many studies into it, and the most consistent result is that a single pine tree can produce over 80,000 sheets of photocopier paper!

5. We Use A LOT Of Paper

Discounting the few sheets used to make those record breaking aeroplanes, we still go through a huge amount of paper every single day. The average office worker in this country handles around 10,000 sheets of paper every year.

6. Size Matters

Standardized paper sizes vary depending on what country you are in. For example, in the UK we use paper sizes based on the A-series, which was developed in Germany in the 1920′s, and quickly spread to the rest of the world by 1970′s But in America they never adopted this system, and they use ‘letter’ size paper instead.

7. Paper Can Only Be Folded A Limited Number Of Times

No matter how big the piece of paper (even the record breaking ones) a single piece of paper can only be folded a limited number of times. This is because with each new fold, the paper gets thicker and stronger. The limit stayed at 7 until 2002, when it was beaten by a student who proved you can fold a single piece in half up to 11 times, before it was beaten again by a team of student in 2012, who managed 13 folds.

8. It’s Not All Made From Wood

The first paper ever made by Cai Lun was constructed from scraps of cloth and hemp, and today we can still find hybrid paper. For example, the paper money in your wallet is not just made from wood- it is paper made from cotton fibre, making it more durable than normal paper.

9. It’s An Art Form

If you ignore the pure maths behind folding paper, you find an art form. Origami is a Japanese tradition that has been around since the 17th century, and involves the artistic folding of paper into intricate shapes. The word originates from the Japanese word ori meaning fold, and kami meaning paper, and spread to the rest of the world in the 1900’s.

10. Recycling Unveiled

Recycling paper doesn’t just save trees. Around two thirds of the paper we recycle saves 7,000 gallons of water, and produces 73% less air pollution that just making new paper.

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