Tree Toppling for Bum Wiping? Let’s Turn the Other Cheek

Leslie Garrett by Leslie Garrett | March 12th, 2009 | No Comments
topic: Green Living

Toilet-Sandpaper (clipping path)It seems consumers are intent on virgin softness when it comes to their own “bottom line.” It says so in a recent New York Times article, which cites a 40 percent increase in sales of the cushiony-soft versions of toilet paper.

I confess I’m baffled by people’s insistence on the two- or three-ply rolls of bath tissue. Perhaps we environmentalists haven’t done a very good job of educating people about the cost of each wipe. Indeed, each of us flushes roughly 24 rolls of the primo wad annually.

We know where it goes. But do we know where it comes from? And if we did, would we use it and toss it with such self-indulgent abandon?

Much of our bathroom tissue comes from Canada’s boreal forest, second only to the Amazon in their life-sustaining ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere and provide habitat to many key species. Much comes from the Amazon itself. Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, reminds us in his blog that “deforestation causes more global warming pollution than all the combined emissions of cars, trucks, buses, airplanes and ships in the entire world … more than that emitted from all sources in the entire country.”

These forests are being wiped out so we can wipe our butts?!

The obsession with cottony softness is largely a North American thing. Having traveled considerably, I’ve visited few countries where toilet tissue was anything more than a thin, brittle sheet. But (at the risk of TMI) it handled the job. And I didn’t get splinters, a rash, or chafing. So let’s toss those arguments out right now.

recycled-paper-bathroom-tissue-1-ply-or-2-plySeriously. Can someone please tell me why there’s such resistance to eco-friendly wiping? My husband, who spends considerable time in the loo (TMI again?), has given this plenty of thought and concedes that tree-toppling for bum wiping just doesn’t make sense — ecologically, economically or aesthetically. Simply buy toilet paper made from 100% recycled paper (not reused … just recycled!). And steer clear of any made with chlorine bleach.

Greenpeace and NRDC list eco-brands of bath tissue that get their green thumbs-up.

Now then. Wipe, flush and emerge with a clean … conscience.

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