We Are (Literally) Wiping the Forests Away!
Updated: Apr 6
Imagine this… You’re at the store, completing your monthly shopping excursion. You notice see the paper section. “Toilet paper,” you think to yourself. Especially since a particularly violent episode after Taco Tuesday left your TP reserves depleted, you realize you need it. You peruse the aisle, looking at all the different options. You find the biggest TP bang for your buck, and you put it in the cart, and move on to finding your next item. No harm done, right? Right?!
The truth is, toilet paper is very detrimental to the environment. Toilet paper is a silent but deadly threat to forests and woodland ecosystems. Toilet paper itself is not the problem here; most TP is naturally biodegradable. The problem with it is the massive deforestation that occurs in order to produce TP. In the US alone, 15 million trees are cut down annually just for the purpose of creating toilet paper, according to an article on Green Is The New Black. Just imagine how large that number could be worldwide. Large corporations are the culprits of this, and they probably don’t try to change their ways because as long as they see green in the form of profits, they see no problem. Deforestation leads to a loss of ecosystems, habitat, and biodiversity. Three regions in the world are hit harder than others, as their forests are cut down specifically for toilet paper: Sumatran rainforests, the Canadian boreal forest, and the Great Northern Forest in Sweden.
So what can we do to change our toilet paper use?
One possible solution could be for us all to stop using toilet paper altogether, and to switch to a bidet instead of a standard toilet. For those that don’t know, a bidet is a type of toilet with a built-in water jet system for you to clean your rump with after finishing that #2. I don’t know the exact numbers, but I assume that having a bidet is something that is not financially accessible to most people, so this solution might not be the best. At least right now.
Another solution is to use a toilet paper alternative. Fortunately, we live in a time where sustainable, renewable, and biodegradable toilet paper is a thing that exists. Several organizations have begun to utilize bamboo for this purpose. Bamboo is a super sustainable resource that grows 10x faster than a tree does. A lot of it can be cultivated at one time and it’s nutritional requirements are fairly cheap. Bamboo can be turned into a type of tissue that looks and feels identical to wood-based paper products. The plant can also be used to make wet wipes, paper towels, and napkins, among other paper products.
So, bamboo has a lot of potential. Why don’t we use it more? I don’t have an answer, but one guess is that it’s more expensive to use than lumber. However, as more and more companies adopt practices that utilize bamboo and invest more research into it, scalability should increase, and thus bamboo will become cheaper and more accessible. Here are some newer companies that are leading the charge against deforestation.
nootrees is a subsidiary of South East Asia-based Lam Soon Group. nootrees is one of the forerunner companies aiming to eliminate deforestation by providing alternative bamboo products, to both consumers and businesses.
Caboo is another organization offering up a sustainable alternative to wood based products. Utilizing both bamboo and sugarcane, Caboo offers personal care paper products at an affordable price when compared to conventional products in the US and Canada.
Founded in 2019, Seattle-based startup Cloud Paper is one of the fastest growing sustainability companies in the US. Currently, they are also providing bamboo-based paper alternatives, and as they grow, they are looking into how they can sustainability help other areas.
Who would have thought that toilet paper would cause such a drastic impact on the environment? I never would have guessed it, considering that toilet paper is more so a necessity rather than a want (Oh, how I envy the true freedom of nature’s wildlife). Luckily, we live in a time where there are alternatives that will help us change, and in turn, help us conserve our natural forests and resources.
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