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Environmentalists Declare War On Toilet Paper

by @ 4:15 pm on September 24, 2009. Filed under In The News

The environmental has found it’s latest target, and it’s in your bathroom:

Mr WhippleELMWOOD PARK, N.J. — There is a battle for America’s behinds.

It is a fight over toilet paper: the kind that is blanket-fluffy and getting fluffier so fast that manufacturers are running out of synonyms for “soft” (Quilted Northern Ultra Plush is the first big brand to go three-ply and three-adjective).

It’s a menace, environmental groups say — and a dark-comedy example of American excess.

The reason, they say, is that plush U.S. toilet paper is usually made by chopping down and grinding up trees that were decades or even a century old. They want Americans, like Europeans, to wipe with tissue made from recycled paper goods.

It has been slow going. Big toilet-paper makers say that they’ve taken steps to become more Earth-friendly but that their customers still want the soft stuff, so they’re still selling it.

This summer, two of the best-known combatants in this fight signed a surprising truce, with a big tissue maker promising to do better. But the larger battle goes on — the ultimate test of how green Americans will be when nobody’s watching.

“At what price softness?” said Tim Spring, chief executive of Marcal Manufacturing, a New Jersey paper maker that is trying to persuade customers to try 100 percent recycled paper. “Should I contribute to clear-cutting and deforestation because the big [marketing] machine has told me that softness is important?”

He added: “You’re not giving up the world here.”

Toilet paper is far from being the biggest threat to the world’s forests: together with facial tissue, it accounts for 5 percent of the U.S. forest-products industry, according to industry figures. Paper and cardboard packaging makes up 26 percent of the industry, although more than half is made from recycled products. Newspapers account for 3 percent.

But environmentalists say 5 percent is still too much.

Sorry guys.

There are some sacrifices I might be willing to make for a better environment and some things that I’m just not willing to give up.

Guess which category good old American toilet paper falls into.

3 Responses to “Environmentalists Declare War On Toilet Paper”

  1. Ray says:

    I am English (i.e. in the UK, which is (I am told) in Europe) and I have just checked my (super soft) toilet paper – it is made from trees from ‘managed forests’ (where they grow trees just to make paper with). So it isn’t all recycled over here.

    Incidentally making paper from trees from managed forests has a lower environmental impact than recycling, as there are fewer and less chemicals involved.

    Last time I visited France and Germany their toilet paper was nice and soft too.

  2. Jennifer says:

    “You’re not giving up the world here.” Seriously.

  3. Ken says:

    We use recycled paper at home, and non at work. Sorry, no difference. 7th Generation products are great.

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