Hummers in our bathrooms?

So how bad is our toilet paper habit, really? The product that we use for less than three seconds extracts a larger ecological consequence than driving Hummers, according to Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the NRDC. More than 98% of all toilet paper sold here comes from virgin wood.

snip…

Americans, who use an average of 23.6 rolls per capita a year – more toilet paper than citizens in other countries—three times more than the average European and 100 times more than the average person in China. Europeans and Latin Americans are also less demanding about the quality of their toilet paper, with up to 40% of toilet paper sold in those markets derived from recycled products.

“I really do think it is overwhelmingly an American phenomenon,” said Hershkowitz. “People just don’t understand that softness equals ecological destruction.”

via Ecogeek and The Guardian

How insane is this? I don’t even see virgin wood used to build homes or furniture anymore, but it is used to make bathroom tissue?

I see this issue in a similar light to organic produce.

It isn’t enough for consumers to vote with their wallets and their pocketbooks. Leadership is needed to make the prices and availability of alternative products practical to consumers.

As far as I know Seventh Generation is the only brand of post consumer bathroom tissue. It an cost several dollars per roll depending on where you shop.

When I was a college student I used Seventh Generation bathroom tissue because I was able to special order mammoth cases of it with my housemates at a discount through the co-op I worked for. Not only is post consumer bathroom tissue more expensive, but a roll of post consumer bathroom tissue doesn’t last as long as conventional bathroom tissue. You need to buy and use more rolls.

“Post consumer” means what most people think of as being “recycled”. It was used for something else and instead of grabbing more resources, it was processed so that it could be used again.

“Recycled” with paper products usually only means that paper scraps that would normally be thrown away in creating paper products were gathered up and used instead.

If you can’t spend several dollars per roll of “post consumer” bathroom tissue you can buy normally priced “recycled” bathroom tissue at CVS. Just look for the “recycled” symbol on CVS brand bathroom tissue. Not all types of bathroom tissue with their label is recycled.

BTW, “CVS” stands for “Customer Value Store”. LOL! Their prices must be good because they don’t pay marketers to do things like up with sexy sounding titles :).

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10 thoughts on “Hummers in our bathrooms?”

  1. Wait…are you saying that “virgin wood” means “wood from virgin forests”? Or does it just mean “not recycled” (i.e., possibly from planted forests)?

    And no, it’s not “a Hummer in every bathroom.” What they’re saying is that the total impact of TP is worse than the total impact of all the Hummers on the road. But pretty much everyone uses TP, whereas most people do not drive Hummers, so the impact of one person’s TP use is still much, much less than the impact of one hummer.

    Sorry for picking nits, but letting stuff like this go unclarified is how urban legends get started.


  2. Sorry for picking nits,

    That you are. Apology accepted 🙂


    but letting stuff like this go unclarified is how urban legends get started.

    good thing we have intrepid public servants such as yourself :).

    Snark aside, I took “virgin wood” to only mean they are cutting trees down to make bathroom tissue. I didn’t take it to mean virgin forrest though that may be the case.

    Either way, it is horrible.

    I would rather have post consumer bathroom tissue than furniture made out of compressed saw dust that an angry kitten could swat into pieces.

  3. A friend went to India last summer and informed me they don’t use toilet paper there. (He brought his own). I call for a boycott of all TP, whether it’s a virgin or not. We’re just all spoiled americans…

  4. Trader Joe has post consumer TP, cheaper than 7th Gen. I have also heard that in India they wash themselves each time and so don’t use TP, so would you then carry a towel around with you? And everybody would know what the towel is for… Hm, I must be a spoiled American. 🙂

  5. The Trader Joe’s in my area never has cool stuff, but to be fair I rarely go. I hate the crowds and they never have enough for me to do my complete food shopping there.

  6. My Trader Joe issue is that their vegetables have so much packaging! All those clamshells! I shop at weird times and so have few crowd issues, and most of our stores are in one big clump, convenient for browsing… this is a nice place to be. I should remember that more often.

  7. TJ’s in my experience takes customer feedback seriously. They at least act like they care. Tell the manager you would buy more produce there if they didn’t wrap it up like they were preparing it for a Pharaoh’s tomb 🙂

  8. My current almost favorite place to shop is a huge Asian market on my home from work. They don’t stock organic produce, but they have varsities of vegetables I haven’t found anywhere else. The quality is better than the supermarkets for commercial produce and their prices are excellent.

  9. Other brands that have post-consumer recycled TP: Natural Value, and Marcal. NV may be hard to come by (only natural food stores will carry it; even then you might only find 7th Gen), but Marcal is sold at Office Depot! You have to buy in large quantity, but it costs out to about 50 cents per roll. 7th Gen is the maker of the Whole Foods’ store brand (365) of TP.

    Also, I use “pee rags” for urinating (being a female). I drop them in a covered bucket until wash day.

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