Exorbitant toilet paper use by Americans wiping out Canadian forests

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A new report published by the New York-based environmental advocacy group, Natural Resources Defense Council, revealed that the heavy use of toilet paper in the US is harming Canadian forests.

According to the study, called ‘The Issue with Tissue,’ the most significant US manufacturers of toilet paper and tissue products, such as Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark, and Georgia-Pacific use virgin wood pulp from Canadian boreal forests, which means that they do not use recycled material. As a result, thousands of hectares of Canadian woods are cut down every year by industrial logging.

The report also says that an average American consumes three rolls of toilet paper a week, while the refusal of the biggest brands “to create more sustainable products makes consumers unwittingly complicit in flushing forests down the toilet.”

The worst offenders are the brands of Charmin Ultra Soft, Quilted Northern, Angel Soft, Kirkland Signature, and Up&Up Soft & Strong toilet tissues, according to the report, prepared in cooperation with Canadian grassroots environmental organization Stand.earth.

In terms of revenues, the US is the world’s second-biggest tissue market with estimated earnings of about $31 billion annually. US citizens that make up just four percent of the global population account for more than 20 percent of global tissue consumption.

“Canada’s boreal forest also stores nearly two times as much carbon as is in all the world’s recoverable oil reserves combined,” the study says. “Toilet paper and tissue manufacturers continue to rely on forests even though they have the resources and means to create and deliver products with recycled and responsibly sourced content that are better for the planet.”

According to the study, Canadian boreal is a vast landscape of coniferous, birch and aspen trees, and the country contains some of the last of the world’s remaining intact forests. At the same time, more than 600 indigenous species are inhabiting the woods, including boreal caribou, pine marten, and billions of songbirds.

“Instead of relying on virgin fiber from ancient forests, tissue companies can use recycled content or sustainably sourced alternative fibers. Use of these materials to create tissue can dramatically reduce our destructive impact on the boreal and other forests in North America and around the world,” the report reads.

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