Although toilet paper is a product that we use for less than three seconds, old-growth forests, tropical and sub-tropical forests, boreal forests, and many others are being decimated by its manufacturers. “Deforestation causes more global warming pollution than all the combined emissions of cars, trucks, buses, airplanes, and ships in the entire world,” writes Allen Hershkowitz in his blog. The National Resources Defense Council is campaigning globally to phase out virgin-fiber toilet paper “the same way we’re phasing out the use of incandescent light bulbs,” he says. You can help stop this destruction, too, by making smart shopping decisions about all of your disposable paper products. Try these tips from the NRDC:
Buy paper products with recycled content–especially postconsumer fibers.
Postconsumer fibers are recovered from paper that was previously used by consumers and would otherwise have been dumped into a landfill or an incinerator.
Buy paper products made with clean, safe processes.
Paper products are bleached to make them whiter and brighter, but chlorine used in many bleaching processes contributes to the formation of harmful chemicals that wind up in our air and water, and are highly toxic to people and fish. Look for products labeled totally chlorine-free (TCF) or processed chlorine-free (PCF).
Tell tissue manufacturers to stop using virgin wood for throwaway products.
If a brand you buy doesn’t have recycled content, tell the company to use more recycled fibers to avoid sourcing from ecologically valuable forests such as those in the Cumberland Plateau and Canadian boreal, and to ensure any virgin fibers used are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Fact: If every household in the U.S. replaced just one roll of virgin fiber toilet paper (500 sheets) with a 100 percent recycled roll, we could save 423,900 trees. Visit nrdc.org/paper to learn more.
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