Thursday, December 3, 2009

Are you part of the paper problem?

In the United States, we are very accustomed to purchasing our paper products (toilet tissue, paper towels, facial tissue, napkins) from the major players, with little regard for environmental impact. But deforestation is a growing concern around the world (as is the need to maintain our old-growth forests, which are very important storehouses for dangerous greenhouse gases) Here in the states, we are blessed/cursed with the plushest, heaviest tee-pee and tissues of anywhere in the world. But this need for 'thicker' and 'softer', and even whiter (chlorine bleach is used, which leaches into waterways), tissues, may not be the sustainable answer.

I've looked around for recycled content, chlorine-bleach-free paper and tissues, and have come up with only the visionary Marcal Small Steps brand (a decent product at a decent price, and with a great message/outlook, but only available in limited outlets, at this point), and Whole Foods Market's own brand, which is similarly natural and also made from 100% recycled content. Seventh Generation seems a bit too pricey, but other regional brands are popping up.

I've recently read that paper giant Kimberly Clark has unleashed their "Scott Naturals" line, which is a step in the right direction, too (if only after intense public pressure from Greenpeace). I've yet to see these products, but it's safe to say that I will be on the lookout.

And it seems that CVS is taking stock in this growing need for environmentally-conscious paper products,. with their own "CVS Earth Essentials" line. Now, if only major industry players like Kleenex and Puffs, as well as the big retailers like Walmart or Target would use their considerable clout with their own brands...time will tell.

Here are some links for more information:

NRDC's comparisons and a superb free pdf brochure

Greenpeace's tissue guide (with a nice free brochure and iPhone app, even!)

NRDC's take on the paper industry

Kimberly Clark's new sustainable line

Marcal Small Steps site

Q & A about recycled content toilet paper

1 comment:

David said...

Save Trees? Save money and the Earth and be clean at the same time! Get serious and add Bathroom Bidet Sprayers to all your bathrooms. I think Dr. Oz on Oprah said it best: "if you had pee or poop on your hand, you wouldn't wipe it off with paper, would you? You'd wash it off” Available at with these you won't even need toilet paper any more, just a towel to dry off! Don’t worry, you can still leave some out for guests and can even make it the soft stuff without feeling guilty. It's cheap and can be installed without a plumber; and runs off the same water line to your toilet. You'll probably pay for it in a few months of toilet paper savings. As for water use a drought is always a concern and must be dealt with prudently but please remember that in the big picture the industrial water users always far exceed the water use of household users and in the case of toilet paper manufacture it is huge. The pollution and significant power use from that manufacturing process also contributes to global warming so switching to a hand bidet sprayer and lowering your toilet paper use is very green in multiple ways.