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Paper is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions globally and takes up 25% of our municipal landfills.  Our forests store 50% of the world’s terrestrial carbon, so in an age of global warming, mitigating carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is paramount.    It is for these reasons Fresh Press was started by Eric Benson & Stevel Kostel.

Fresh Press is an educational agri-fiber papermaking and design studio providing systemic design solutions to East Central Illinois.  Their goal is to develop markets for sustainable paper made from locally produced agri-fiber and indigenous plant material.    Their intent is to function as a model for regional sustainable paper materials that collaborates across multiple academic disciplines, reviving a local agrarian economy based on entrepreneurship and sustainable professional practice, while reducing the environmental impact of paper consumption at the sizable university, as well as surrounding urban and rural communities.

Fresh Press agri-fiber and agri-fiber waste paper lab is based on a regional and seasonal model that is similar to the model of a microbrewery. They use what is indigenous to the area in terms of prairie grasses and other native species (when dried) and take the farmers’ waste after harvest.   So far they have developed paper blends from corn, soy beans, rye, switchgrass as well as several other crops I’ve never he Currently their hand-made paper is used mainly for stationery, handbills and posters.

Fresh Press is really interested in changing the system of paper-making which is primarily based on chopping down trees and therefore a very environmentally unfriendly way of making paper.   They’re also looking at creating regional economies based on fibres so farmers can grow these crops, sell the food portion of the crop and also sell what would usually be considered as waste.   Using that existing stream of fibre to produce paper will be a lot more socially and environmentally friendly way of stewarding the land.


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