Sustainability and environmental stewardship are core focuses in CAP’s educational mission, providing students valuable insights into the impact their design decisions have on communities and the environment. A case in point is the Landscape Architecture Materials Engineering course, tasking students with exploring innovative applications using reclaimed or low-impact materials for a small-scale project. Students are required to furnish documentation, illustrating how their choices contribute to a reduced environmental impact.

Sarah Gordon, a graduate student in landscape architecture, wholeheartedly embraced this project. Her emphasis was on repurposing newspapers with the goal of giving them a new life by creating a wearable cloth scarf.

Students were asked to creatively plan and construct a small-scale project and document the process. This gets them thinking about the environmental impact of their material choices.
–April Westcott, Assistant Teaching Professor

In Sarah’s research, the article titled “Newspaper’s Footprint: Environmental Toll of All News That’s Fit to Print” revealed that individuals who purchase newspapers contribute approximately 270 kg of CO2 to the atmosphere annually. CO2 is generated at different stages of newspaper production, encompassing the manufacturing of newsprint, the printing process, and the delivery to homes, ultimately leading to disposal in landfills. Roughly half of the newspapers produced are recycled.

Sarah chose newspapers for weaving because they are lightweight and very thin, usually not recycled (essential for weaving), and easily accessible. The process of transforming newspaper into a fabric involved spinning newspaper strips into yarn and weaving them on a loom with cotton yarns. The additional yarns helped to add structure and versatility to the material. Once the fabric was woven, it was soaked in soapy water for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the paper and cotton fibers to relax after being under high pressure and tension in the loom and creating a softer material.

I believe that we as designers should always strive to find ways to be more sustainable with our designs and explore how we can repurpose or reuse materials to eliminate unnecessary waste. This project challenged us to think creatively and outside of the box to find ways to utilize sustainable methods with everyday objects. I hope to carry this heightened awareness for sustainable materials into all of my future projects.


  • 42% of all global wood harvests are used to make paper.
  • Over 27,000 trees are cut down each day to make toilet paper.
  • The U.S. puts out 24 billion newspapers, 2 billion books, 350 million magazines, and around 2.6 billion holiday cards every year.
  • To print a single run of the Sunday edition of the New York Times requires 75,000 trees!
  • 50% of business waste is composed of paper.
  • For every ton of paper produced, 380 gallons of oil is used.
  • With all the paper we waste each year, we could build a 12-foot-high wall of paper from New York to California!
  • Despite electronic advancement, demand for paper is expected to double before 2030.
  • Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 682.5 gallons of oil, 26,500 liters of water and 17 trees.


Perkin, S. (2019, August 8). Newspaper’s footprint: Environmental toll of all news that’s fit to print.