You know that extra-soft toilet paper that cartoon bears adore wiping their bums with? I recently learned that 98 percent of the pulp used to make it comes from virgin wood. Apparently, the “good stuff” used to be made with recycled office paper – but more offices are going paperless. American consumers prefer the luxury multi-ply brands with quilting.
In 2009, The Guardian reported that American taste for soft toilet paper is worse for the environment than driving Hummers.
Thanks to the nation’s obsession with the luxury toilet tissue – something the average person uses for about three seconds per bathroom visit, brands like Cottonelle, Ultra, Quilted Northern Ultra, and Charmin Ultra experienced an increase in sales by 40 percent in some markets, according to a 2009 article in The New York Times.
“But fluffiness comes at a price: millions of trees harvested in North America and in Latin American countries, including some percentage of trees from rare old-growth forests in Canada. Although toilet tissue can be made at similar cost from recycled material, it is the fiber taken from standing trees that helps give it that plush feel, and most large manufacturers rely on them,” according to the New York Times article.
The National Resource Defense Council has made a shopping guide available online (PDF) that ranks home tissue products, including facial tissues, toilet tissue, paper towels, and paper napkins. They are ranked based on percentage of recycled content and bleaching process. The list recommended that consumers avoid such popular brands as Puffs, Kleenex, Charmin, Cottonelle, Bounty, and Viva.
“Until tissue paper manufacturers end their dependence on virgin fiber, North America’s most ecologically rich forests will continue to be destroyed for paper throwaways,” according to the Natural Resource Defense Council.
I hate cardboard-esque toilet paper as much as the next person. And when I swore off those so-called “luxury” brands in favor of something more environmentally friendly, I expected there to be a pretty big tradeoff in softness. However, I’m happy to report that my brand of choice, Green Forest manufactured by Planet, Inc., is delightfully soft and made 100 percent of recycled content — 90 percent of which is post-consumer content — and is not whitened with chlorine. And of course, it is rated highly by the NRDC shopping guide. See how your brand stacks up.
Copyright © 2002-2013. All rights reserved