How The Toilet Paper Industry Is Killing Our Forests

    Toilet paper is not the type of topic that makes headlines often, but when it does it's usually not good news. It usually has something to do with environmental pollution. Out of all manufacturing industries, the paper industry has the biggest and most brutal effect on forests, based on reports by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Each year millions of virgin trees are cut down to make toilet paper when these trees could have been saved if consumers were more conscious about recycled toilet paper.


    The Need to Recycle

    Greenpeace has been an active organization in pressuring huge paper manufacturers to replace virgin forest cutting with recycled paper. One of these companies is Kimberly-Clark, which manufactures several toilet paper bands including Kleenex and Scott, the first mass marketer of toilet paper over a century ago. The reason Greenpeace does not endorse Scott's Naturals toilet paper is that less than half of the material is recycled, and still uses toxic bleaching. But as hard as environmental companies are working to educate corporations and individuals about saving the forests, Americans prefer the comfort of conventional soft toilet paper over green alternatives.

    Only two percent of the United States toilet paper market contains completely recycled fiber compared with twenty percent in Latin America. It turns out that the United States consumes more toilet tissue per capita than any other part of the world. According to Worldwatch.org, North Americans consume over five times more toilet paper per capita than South Americans and nearly twice as much as Europeans. This disparity proves that the United States is a big part of the problem and needs better environmental education. Unfortunately, when Sheryl Crow made a bold statement about toilet paper conservation, the result from the media was not an intelligent discussion, but jokes from Rush Limbaugh and Jon Stewart.

    Environmental Ratings

    One of the most powerful grassroots environmental organizations in America, according to the New York Times, is the NRDC. This group of activists, scientists and lawyers works on defending clean energy, forests, wildlife, oceans and other environmental causes. Their website rates many products based on how they affect the environment, positive or negative. The site gives ratings to various toilet paper brands with green dots representing environmentally-friendly products and red dots symbolizing products that are harmful to the environment.

    Usually products that are recycled get the highest ratings. Some of the highest rated toilet paper brands with green dots include Ambiance, April Soft, Fiesta, Best Value and Natures Choice. Toilet paper brands at the bottom of the list with red dots include Walmart, Target, Safeway, Rite Aid and Albertson's Bath Tissue. NRDC, however, does not endorse products.

    Toilet Paper Facts:

    • Toilet paper as we know it today began mass production in the early 1890s.
    • The average roll of toilet paper has 1000 sheets, which has been standard since the early 1900s.
    • Scott introduced disposable paper towels on the market in 1907.
    • Kleenex was first marketed in 1924. 
    • Colored toilet paper was first issued in 1954 by Northern Tissue.
    • Scott began advertising its toilet paper for the first time on TV in 1955.
    • "Please don't squeeze the Charmin" ads began on TV in 1964, along with perfume toilet paper.
    • 100% cotton paper using no wood was introduced by Seattle company Fort James in 1997.
    • Toilet paper sales surpassed $19 billion worldwide by 2003.
    • Marcal Paper began marketing 100% recycled toilet paper with Small Steps in 2008.
    • Today there are over 5,000 toilet paper manufacturers in the world.
    • An estimated 7 million trees are cut each year to produce toilet paper


    1. I, for one, have been trying to be aware of my "carbon footprint" and quite honestly, I hadn't thought much of toilet paper. Definitely something that needs addressing

    2. We cannot trust that the toilet paper is recycled. It would be far better to use re-usable and rewashable rags, or do what the ancient Romans did and use a sponge on a stick that is cleaned between uses.



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