Investigatory Project

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Trees do so much more than add aesthetic beauty to our landscape while shielding us from intense sun rays. They also filter airborne pollutants and sequester carbon dioxide emissions, ultimately enabling us to breathe a lot easier (see References 1). American production of paper and printed matter, however, is responsible for releasing more than 40 million metric tons of CO2 into our atmosphere annually (see References 2). Tree lovers can seek out sustainable paper options made from pulverized calcium carbonate stone or assorted types of easily renewable plant fibers, or they can even craft an alternative DIY version from trash-bound banana peels for eco-inspired letter writing. Items you will need:

4 banana peels
Assorted shredded recycled paper
Sharp knife
Pot
Spoon
Measuring cup
Papermaking mold and deckle
Large plastic basin
Blender or food processor (with a minimum 4 cup capacity) Large damp cloth

Step 1:

Remove the stem and blossom end of four banana peels. Unripe peels work best, but you can use just-ripened peels, too. Step 2:

Place the skins in a sunny area such as your windowsill or deck until they transition from yellow to entirely black. They’ll be ready to use in your homemade paper recipe as soon as they are completely devoid of all moisture and pliability. Step 3:

Place 1 cup of shredded recycled paper into a blender along with 2 cups of water. Cover it securely and then blend the combo on high until a gray-tinged slurry forms. Step 4:

Prepare your completely dried banana skins so they can be added to the paper pulp by first rough-cutting them into ½-inch bits and then depositing them into a pot of rapidly boiling water. Allow the material to soften for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Step 5:

The rehydrated banana skins are now ready to be added to the paper slurry already in your blender. Once you augment the mixture with an additional cup of water, replace...
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