Yesterday the NYTimes had a great article on how American’s preference for using soft toilet tissue is terrible for the environment. The soft, fluffy toilet paper like Charmin can only be made from tree fiber and not recycled paper. Toilet paper made from recycled paper works fine and is used in many European countries. The NYT article quotes Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the Natural Resource Defense Council, saying “No forest of any kind should be used to make toilet paper”
Each year we use billions of rolls of toilet paper in the U.S. which means at least 15 million trees cut down,including some percentage of trees from rare old-growth forests. This also involves billions of gallons of water to produce the paper and hundreds of thousands of tons of chlorine for bleaching purposes. I’ve read that it takes approximately 13 gallons of water to make one roll of toilet paper.
Here is an eco-friendly shopper’s guide for home tissue products by the The Natural Resources Defense Council. On this chart it shows 365 (Whole Foods) brand currently you best green option with it’s 100% recycled paper with greater than 80% post-consumer content.
We should put pressure on tissue manufacturers to stop using virgin wood for toilet paper but in the mean time we can start by learning to adjust using more eco-friendly toilet tissue that is more important to be easier on the environment than our bums.