By Larraine Roulston:
When organizations first began claiming special calendar dates to promote their causes, who would have guessed that there would be a “National Toilet Paper Day”?! On August 26th, I received two such messages. Its purpose was to raise awareness of the deforestation caused by companies failing to manufacture toilet paper from post-consumer recycled paper or, at the very least,to include a percentage of recycled content.
In 1883, Seth Wheeler patented rolled toilet paper and in 1891 made an improved version. Presently, approximately 30,000 trees each day are used to make this light white tissue. During the1960s some toilet paper brands were colored; however, thankfully the practice of adding dyes now has stopped in North America.
It wasn’t long after the blue box program began that people were expecting companies to use boxboard packaging produced from recycled paper. Companies agreed and complied. After all, the manufacturing of recycled paper can use up to 60% less water compared to theproduction of paper from virgin sources. Therefore, it would have made sense if toilet paper and facial tissue manufacturers followed suit; unfortunately, that has not been the case.
In my city, Loblaws, the supermarket, does not stock toilet paper with recycled content. Luckily, concerned citizens can find “Greencare” bathroom tissue that carries the eco logo in Foodland (a competing grocery chain). Greencare is made with 100% recycled paper and is whitened without bleach. Other retailers stock Seventh Generation, Whole Foods‘ brand 365 Everyday Value and Green Forest. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a nonprofit international environmental advocacy organization based in the U.S., reports in its NRDC’s shopper’s guide (and the TP packages) that these brand names are all 100 percent recycled fiber, are processed chlorine-free, and have at least 40 percent post-consumer content. Other toilet paper brands, such as Charmin continue to be manufactured with virgin paper. Canada’s Boreal Forests should not be clear-cut for any reason, and the fact that toilet paper is manufactured solely to be flushed away within moments of its use is insane in a world striving for sustainability.
When it comes to recycling the roll’s stiff inner paper cylinder, even the best recyclers seem to place it in their bathroom trash. This little piece of boxboard should display the printed message “Please Recycle Me, Too.”
Other ways to conserve paper include these suggestions:
- Check out the recycled content or look for the FSC logo when selecting greeting cards.
- Use both sides of the paper.
- Return to the once familiar cloth handkerchief.
- Utilize children’s unfinished school workbooks.
- Avoid the single-use paper cup that is neither recyclable nor compostable.
- Post a “Please No Junk Mail” sign on your mailbox.
- Reuse your gift paper or wrap presents in tea towels.
- Think small when purchasing postage stamps. Often those featured are twice the size and come in a folded packet.
- Share magazines with friends.
- Remove any spiral coils or hard covers before recycling notebooks.
- Take a cookie tin into bakery and donut shops to eliminate their boxboard containers.
- Shake hands dry when in a public washroom to avoid the use of paper towels.
Larraine writes children’s illustrated adventure stories on composting and pollinating. To view, visit: www.castlecompost.com