You are killing virgin forests to wipe your bottom

Pretty disturbing, eh?  But, apparently the physics of toilet paper are such that the softness everybody seems to crave only comes from old trees, rather than recycled paper products.  Interesting story on it in the Post this week:

 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…

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

But environmentalists say 5 percent is still too much.

Felling these trees removes a valuable scrubber of carbon dioxide, they
say. If the trees come from "farms" in places such as Brazil, Indonesia
or the southeastern United States, natural forests are being displaced.
If they come from Canada's forested north — a major source of imported
wood pulp — ecosystems valuable to bears, caribou and migratory birds
are being damaged.

And, activists say, there's just the foolish idea of the thing: old
trees cut down for the briefest and most undignified of ends.

I must admit, the I love my Cottonelle, but the Greene family will be switching over to recycled toilet paper.  An especially good idea when I consider how much of it Alex wastes by soaking rolls in the sink.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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