Posts Tagged ‘recycling’

Bags, Bottles & Bulbs . . . and Butts?

Sunday, March 1st, 2009


Why I now love scratchy toilet paper

Like a lot of people, these days I am always looking for ways to “be green.”

Last year I spearheaded an Earth Day campaign at my kids elementary school I coined “Bags, Bottles & Bulbs.” The kids made posters about how they could help save the planet in three simple ways: by not using plastic shopping bags, not using plastic water bottles, and switching to energy efficient light bulbs.

Now I think I want to add a fourth “B.” Butts. I was reading an article in the New York Times a couple days ago while my daughter was at her piano lesson, and I saw that Americans are hooked on super-soft toilet paper. We are cutting down forests just to get the deluxe fibers for this TP!

According to the 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 help give it that plush feel, and most large manufacturers rely on them.”

The article goes on to describe all the ways in which producing the plusher paper hurts the environment. It notes that in Europe and most other areas of the world, people are more wiling to use the rougher TP made from recycled paper.

I read another article on this topic in the British Guardian.

I have to admit, our family always buys the soft TP, even though it costs more. But not anymore. I do not want to feel guilty over harming Mother Earth for such a mundane comfort.

As I get ready for Earth Day activities at our school, I am wondering if I would get too many laughs if I added the fourth B to the Bags Bottles & Bulbs campaign. I asked my third-grade son if maybe he could help come up with a “Captain Underpants” type of Superhero to spread the word about the harm of plush toilet paper.

If any kind of product called for recycled paper, surely it must be toilet paper?

Maybe we could have some sort of disclosure legislation: all TP would have to label how much of it came from virgin forests vs. recycled paper. I think most people would be willing to give up the super-soft paper if they knew that when they flush the soft stuff, they flush the forest. So please, as Earth Day approaches, join me and make the switch. It’s a small price to pay.

If you need help picking a new brand of TP, check out Greenpeace’s forest-friendly recommendations.

By the way, I’ve heard that soft facial tissues like Kleenex also use virgin forest fibers. So that may be next. Although, if you’ve actually got a cold, you might need the softer tissue.

I designed the “Don’t Flush the Forest” logo above in Photoshop to encourage consumers to buy toilet paper that is made from recycled material. Feel free to download it for personal use under the Creative Commons license. If you use it, please do not alter it (keep my credit on it). If you distribute, you must attach a copy of the license to it with the same conditions. Thanks.

By the way, some of my eco designs are now available on tote bags (a great alternative to plastic shopping bags) at printfection, a great custom print place that has a money-back guarantee.

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Related posts:
Free art about the benefits of water bottles over plastic water bottles.
How to Run a Terracycle Campaign at School




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