by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC
We Americans love our luxuries and pampering, especially when it comes to our sorry butts. We use – no,Â demandÂ – fluffy soft toilet paper in every bathroom, and we do so more than any other country. Although the switch to recycled TP seems like one of the no-brainer steps to helping the environment, the demand for thick and soft has prevailed beyond reason, and again, Americans lead the way in this phenomenon. I just have to ask, What gives?
Manufacturing recycled, unbleached paper of all kinds saves trees, water,Â and creates less waste. The “required” softness is not available in recycled form since it is the longer fibers from standing trees which create the fluffiness. Although up to 50 percent of the pulp used to make toilet paper for this country comes from tree farms, “the rest comes from old, second-growth forests, some from the last virgin North American forests, an irreplaceable variety of endangered species, environmentalists say.” (NYTimes.com). Losing these trees also means more losing in the fight for the environment, since they are important absorbers of CO2.
The recession may help change our attitudes (though it’s a sad marker for our willingness to do our part in environmental stewardship). Recycled TP costs less and companies themselves may finally begin to move from ‘softer is better’ to a more truthful environmental campaign message.
“Americans use an average of 23.6 rolls per capita a year.” (NYTimes.com). Maybe we’ll all finally get some perspective and stop making trees the butt of this joke.