How to make paper in a world that refuses to go paperless

We need to stop cutting down trees

There is a specific satisfaction you get from holding a good, solid book in your hands, or flipping through your freshly-printed 10 page essay. A feeling that is not satisfied by holding a Kindle, e-reader, or scrolling through a word doc.

We all know that paper is made from trees, and trees are becoming more scarce. This sad reality can be traced back to the paper product industry, since it accounts for 42 per cent of deforestation worldwide. Paper products such as packaging, cardboard, newspapers, magazines, contracts, and more are responsible for one third of Canada’s waste, and only a quarter of this number ends up being recycled.

It would be dumb to try and deny the importance of forests in the world, especially large old-growth forests that have immense ecosystems of their own. These provide us with oxygen, medicinal plants, and are often home to Indigenous communities, some of which have never had contact with the “modern” world.

Going paperless could be considered in a very “plugged in” setting, but not everyone has access to computers, or even a stable internet connection. Ideally, we could recycle all of our paper, and create a cycle of continuous use without the need for virgin material. But sadly, humans often make the mistake of putting paper in the wrong bin or recycling paper contaminated with food — rendering the paper no longer recyclable and contaminating the rest of the bin it was thrown into — which puts a damper on our plans.

There is a process in which paper is cut up into tiny little pieces, which you can picture like blended paper confetti. Then, it is thrown in water with a solvent, and a mesh frame filters the paper chunks into a unified sheet. The paper is then laid out, dried with sponges, and left out in the open until fully solid.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the most satisfying paper feel is that of a rugged, thick sheet that has rough edges. The recycled paper confetti comes together to form a beautiful speckled cream colour. It’s a calming and beautiful process that could help the paper industry navigate toward reusing instead of chopping.

There are however downsides to recycled paper; it takes an abundant amount of energy to make. But let’s see what the outcome is when we weigh the pros from the cons, according to this BBC Science article:


  • Making recycled paper uses fossil fuels for energy instead of burning wood products like regular paper mills do.
  • The cost of recycling and transporting paper waste materials is an issue, including the energy cost of transporting scraps


  • Generally speaking, recycling paper is better than making it from scratch since it uses less raw materials, and is able to reuse the resources already used to make the initial product
  • Making recycled paper creates 35 per cent less water pollution than starting from scratch
  • Making recycled paper our only paper would theoretically decrease paper production air pollution by 74 per cent
  • The cost of machinery to start a recycled paper business ranges from thirty to sixty thousand dollars, which stays relatively affordable in comparison to any other general production startup costs.

I don’t know about you, but I’m reading more pros than cons.

Basically, there’s a huge untapped market that we could dig into, to reduce the amount of trees cut down for paper products, as well as reuse secondary raw materials in a way that would reduce the overall size of landfills. Obviously it’s not that black-and-white, but maybe this is a small way to make a real difference?


Photo by Lou Neveux-Pardijon


There’s a fine line between art and trash

Introducing three final artists from the first annual VAVxCUCCR residency

In celebration of the Concordia University Centre for Creative Reuse (CUCCR)’s first year of operation, the centre will host their first annual residency in collaboration with the VAV Gallery. Together, the VAV and CUCCR have selected seven undergraduate fine arts student-artists who will exhibit their work on March 22. The artists have been tasked with creating zero-waste artworks using CUCCR’s material.


Gabrielle Mulholland is a Toronto native and began her studies in illustration at OCAD University. She left OCAD to move to Montreal in 2014, and is now in her last year of print media at Concordia. This summer, Mulholland will be opening her own printmaking studio in the Plateau. Inspired by CUCCR’s focus on creative reuse, Mulholland began to consider the original saying, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” and how the emphasis was originally placed on reducing and recycling, not reusing.

Gabrielle Mulholland’s installation, x 11, consists of a papier-mâché screen print sculpture, a “snow pile” of found materials and an 8.5 x 11 inch tapestry. Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Mulholland.

The artist’s experience of constantly being in the city forms the basis of her current work, which aims to challenge the idea that art and design create waste. Mulholland is particularly interested in producing work from garbage found on Montreal’s snowy, frozen streets. For the residency, she has created an installation called x 11. It consists of a papier-mâché screen print sculpture, a “snow pile” of found materials and an 8.5 x 11 inch tapestry. The exact composition of her piece will be revealed at the exhibition.

The tapestry was created from material sourced at a Renaissance thrift store and hand-dyed using a salt resist. “In the imagery on the tapestry, you can slightly see the original illustration student in me who was obsessed with human communication and symbols,” the artist said.

Mulholland is thrilled to be part of the first annual VAVxCUCCR residency. She said she hopes the exhibition will inspire artists and students alike to be more involved in creative reuse.


Laura Douglas has a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in environmental studies from McGill University, and is currently in her third year of studio arts at Concordia.

She works in a variety of mediums, including paint, textile and installation. Most, if not all, of Douglas’ work grapples with themes related to the environment. Her recent project was exhibited as part of the Art Matters Festival at Mainline Gallery’s Tender Teeth exhibit. She hand made a biodegradable quilt using organic fibres and placed seeds in the fibres that will grow upon long-term contact with soil. Her work will also be featured in Bright Lights / Blurred Vision, opening March 19 at 6 p.m. at La Récréation – Jeux de société et activités culturelles (404 Ontario St. E).

Laura Douglas built small hanging planters and larger self-watering planters out of recycled containers. Photo courtesy of Laura Douglas.

For the residency, Douglas created an installation of small hanging planters and large self-watering planters, using soil from public spaces and reused containers of varied sizes from CUCCR. She painted these containers to suit her desired aesthetic.

Douglas is particularly interested in the fact that cities are often built on the most fertile soil, yet lack large areas dedicated to gardening. As an artist and environmental activist, Douglas wants to use her work as a means of teaching others about how easy urban gardening can be. Self-watering planters can be made with two containers and mesh or burlap. The bottom of one container must be removed and replaced by the mesh or burlap, allowing water from a second container to be absorbed when needed.


Mikaela Kautzky is currently in her second year majoring in studio art and minoring in diversity and the contemporary world. She said she believes art is a valuable personal, social and cultural tool, but it lacks consideration in how it impacts the environment. Like Mulholland, Kautzky aims to deconstruct the wasteful nature of art-making.

In addition to waste, Kautzky’s work shines a spotlight on social and environmental degradation. She strives to lead a completely zero-waste lifestyle, meaning she only consumes unpackaged food items and commits to purchasing biodegradable products. Kautzky uses art as a tool to commit to no-garbage living.

“For one whole school year, I challenged myself to do a painting of every piece of trash I threw out, and I learned a lot about the issue through this creative research,” Kautzky revealed. “Now, going forward, I try to create with the least environmental harm as possible by using reused materials and less toxic paints in my art practice.”

“Rest In Peace Phil Folderino” is an ode to manual means of storing data. Mikaela Kautzky urges viewers to think about the impact art-making has on the environment. Photo courtesy of Mikaela Kautzky.

Kautzky volunteered with CUCCR during the fall semester, and she is quite familiar with the abundance of file folders kept in the depot. Her project for the residency, “Rest In Peace Phil Folderino” is an ode to manual means of storing data and questions whether or not online storage is truly the greener alternative. “It is ultimately just out of mind, out of sight,” Kautzky said.

The artist also dabbles in photography and fashion in Less_n, a larger project that demands a dialogue on contemporary consumption. Kautzky will be selling upcycled, second-hand shirts at September Surf Cafe and Pop-Up Shop on March 24 at 4123 St-Denis St. Details will be released on Instagram @mik00k and @less_n.

The Concordian has profiled the artists-in-residence each week leading up to CUCCR’s birthday event on March 22. Past issues have featured Bianca Arroyo-Kreimes, Gabrielle Desrosiers, Roxane Fiore and Saba Heravi.


Cycles, transitions and reanimating materiality

Introducing two artists from the first annual VAVxCUCCR residency

In celebration of the Concordia University Centre for Creative Reuse (CUCCR)’s first year of operation, the centre will host their first annual residency in collaboration with the VAV Gallery. Together, the VAV and CUCCR have selected seven undergraduate fine art student-artists who will be featured in an exhibition on March 22. The artists have been tasked with creating zero-waste artworks using CUCCR’s material.

The Concordian will profile the artists-in-residence each week leading up to the birthday event.


Bianca Arroyo-Kreimes moved to Montreal from Toronto three years ago to pursue her studies in animation. Arroyo-Kreimes is an experienced digital artist and is currently in her third year in animation.

“I try to see my art as a way to explore the many ideas I have going on in my head,” she said. “It’s a way of resolving them, I guess.” Most of her past work focuses on mythology, humanity and identity. Arroyo-Kreimes enjoys experimenting with under-camera animation methods, such as stop-motion.

Her work, Ballad for the Spirits, is a collection of one-minute video loops that address ideas of karma, the afterlife and recycling. Using a great mass of odds and ends like buttons, metal knobs and string from CUCCR, Arroyo-Kreimes has given these seemingly random objects a new purpose, a new shape, body and voice.

“The objects are now awakened and alive again in the bardo [a state between death and rebirth], as objects pass from one hand to another similarly to the way karma works,” she said.

The way she sees it, karma, rejuvenation and the recycling of objects are linked and belong within the same imaginary venn-diagram.

Ballad for the Spirits is a collection of one-minute video loops that address ideas of karma, the afterlife and recycling. Photo courtesy of Bianca Arroyo-Kreimes.


Gabrielle Desrosiers completed a DEC in set and costume design at the École de théâtre de St-Hyacinthe in 2007, and began her BFA in studio arts at Concordia in 2014.
The foundation of Desrosiers’ work lies in her travel experiences. Last year, she spent a semester abroad at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, Israel.
Desrosiers is a multidisciplinary artist, focusing on performance art and installation, combining various elements and mediums. For the residency, she is presenting part of a research-based project. She is fascinated by the gradient colours of the sunset and twilight period right before nightfall. Currently untitled, Desrosiers’ installation questions the metaphysical and psychological effects, reactions and suggestions of this

Desrosiers’ piece is based on the gradient of colours found in the sky during sunsets and twilight. Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Desrosiers.

natural, observable phenomenon.

“I paint gradient colours of the sky and sunset on a flat surface, which is similar to the frontal position our body takes to look at it,” Desrosiers said. “But, in fact, the sky is all around. The sky is not a surface; it is an intangible, three-dimensional thing.”

She explained that her goal is to recreate the gradie

nt motif on a structure by reconstructing the two-dimensional surface and transforming it into an engaging, three-dimensional experience.
“I think that the verb ‘to experience’ is really important here,” Desrosiers said. She reflects on the twilight period as a symbol of ending and beginning. “It’s a transition,” she said. “A moment of time sort of suspended […] It is the end of something, and the beginning of something else. It’s a cycle.”

Desrosiers selected material from CUCCR that seemed interesting in connection with her research. She recalled spending large amounts of time in the depot, which led her to be inspired by the textures and patterns, or materiality of the objects. Desrosiers’ installation uses large sheets of paper, found objects, latex paint and a kiosque tent, all courtesy of CUCCR.
The artist said she is glad to be part of the CUCCR residency, as its zero-waste goals are similar to her own. She reuses her own material and often re-integrates them into different projects. “I feel like there is no complete finality in each of my projects,” Desrosiers said. “They can continue to evolve or merge [with others].”

Mark your calendars for CUCCR’s birthday at the VAV Gallery on March 22 at 5 p.m. Stay tuned for next week’s profiles on student-artists Roxane Fiore and Saba Heravi. Follow the Concordia University Centre for Creative Reuse on Facebook and Instagram @cuccr.

Photos courtesy of the artists.

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