On Monday Green Steve posted a link on FaceBook of his radio interview about how the UK (where he lives) could save half a million tonnes of C02 if everyone switched to recycled toilet paper.
I chafe more at the whole idea of using potable water in our toilets, but Green Steve got me thinking, as he usually does. And, I thought – why haven’t I made that EASY change already?? It doesn’t involve much of a habit change (like composting) and while it may cost a little more, I’m already saving money from washing my clothes and cold water and producing less landfill garbage.
As my week progressed, and the thought of recycled toilet paper stewed in my brain, I remembered reading in Chris Goodall’s How to Live a Low-Carbon Life that making pulp and paper create huge amounts of green house gases.
“…making a tonne of virgin paper uses about 7000 kWh of energy. The production process also employees prodigious amounts of water, and the chemical effluents from paper plants are a major pollution problem. Making recycled paper uses much less energy and involves less water.”
And, I remembered my Canadian cousin Nance’s remark on how Americans (myself included) loved our paper products: towels, Kleenexes, and napkins. I don’t think creating more laundry is completely carbon neutral, but I get it, we throw a lot of virgin paper into landfills. Plus, I can’t let Nance lord this over me any longer!
So, today I purchased Seventh Generation’s 100% recycled, unbleached paper products. (Oh, and wouldn’t you know it? Seventh Generation products are made in Canada – Nance still has one up on me!) Let’s take a look at these products:
- Kleenex. Seventh Generation Facial Tissue – 2 Ply. On the plus side they are made of 100% recycled paper, hypo-allergenic and whitened without chlorine bleach. I don’t really care about the white part. On the negative side, they’re a little scratchy, but not too bad, however using them is like blowing snot directly into your hands. Maybe just perfecting the Snot Rocket is the way to go – a little messy around the house or in the office, but clearly, the greenest way to go. That said, I’m still going to use them because if every household in the US replaced just ONE box of 85-sheet virgin fiber tissue with a 100% recycled one, we would save:
- 283,000 trees
- 730,000 cubic feet of landfill space, equal to 1,000 garbage trucks
- 102 million gallons of water – a years supply for 800 families of four.
- Avoid 17,000 pounds of chlorinated pollution.
- Paper Towels. Seventh Generation Paper Towels, Natural, 2-Ply Sheets The memories. These brown paper towels take me right back to grade school. The towels found in bathrooms and cafeterias. They are a one-use kinda deal and not especially strong, but completely guilt-free. And, if every US household replaced just ONE roll of 120-sheet virgin paper towels with 100% recycled, chlorine-free towels, we would save a million trees.
- Toilet Paper. Seventh Generation Bathroom Tissue, 2-ply I know paper companies have gotten a lot of mileage out of selling us all sorts of fancy quilted toilet paper. The Seventh Generation and Natural Value toilet papers that we’re testing out in our house aren’t bad at all. That quilted stuff is just a lot of marketing fluff – you know it, I know it. Let’s save some trees and switch to 100% recycled toilet paper. If every US household replaced just ONE roll of toilet paper 295,000 trees would be saved.
Are you joining me in 100% recycled paper land? Or, are you already there and just waiting for me to finally clue in? As my friend Mercer says, “Why recycle if you don’t buy recycled products?” Good point. I guess that’s what they mean about “closing the loop.”