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How Much Environmental Damage Is Our Toilet Paper Doing, Anyway?

Toilet rolls

If you had to choose, which do you think would have the worst environmental impact: a large SUV, or your butt?

No, we’re not talking about gas emissions (at least not in one of those options), we’re talking about the impact of toilet paper on the environment. According to some green campaign researchers, our love for soft, fluffy, cloud-like toilet paper is backfiring on us, causing more devastation on the environment than gas-guzzling SUVs, energy-sucking mansions, and greasy fast food chains.

As more and more companies are going paperless (which is a good thing), there is less and less recycled material going into the production of toilet paper. As a result, pulp manufacturing is increasing, requiring the use of more virgin wood – a clean and untreated type that comes straight from forests. With Americans using an average of 7 billion rolls of toilet paper a year, and a typical tree provides about 1,000 rolls of toilet paper, we’re using 7 million trees just to wipe our butts every year.

The problem is that so many of us in the US are convinced we need the equivalent of a cloud coated in silk in order to take care of business, and virgin wood is what companies are using to cash in on our obsessions with comfort. Is that necessary? No, seriously. Is a product you use for like 3 seconds worth the extra “quilting comfort” and “air pockets”, and “lotion made from llama fiber”, that so many brands dish out?

Aside from the unnecessary (and fake) comfort these brands provide, why are those of us in supposedly some of the most technologically advanced countries in the world using one of the most unsanitary means possible to wipe our butts? If we pooped anywhere in our houses we wouldn’t clean it up with a dry Swiffer, so how is wiping our asses any different?

If we want to save forests, why haven’t we yet made like the French and used bidets, or maybe cut down on that fast food? Either way, if it reduces our toilet paper usage, we’ll be causing craploads of repair on the damage we didn’t even realize we were causing.

Image CC licensed by Jenna

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://twitter.com/Troyss12 Troy

    LOL. Only the best for my rear end. Your last comment about diet is absolutely true. As I have switched my diet to more plant based foods, I eat more fiber, and my poops come out much cleaner. Most of the time I only need 1 or 2 swipes and that’s it.

  • http://www.the9billion.com/ John Johnston

    A little TMI.

  • Anonymous

    How about hemp?

  • http://www.the9billion.com/ John Johnston

    I guess that could be a viable option, all jokes aside. 

  • joe shmoe

    Peanut butter poops got me wipe wipe wipen…

  • Gokulaesh


  • BarbaraCharis

    People from other countries don’t think paper is the way to go. It is far more sanitary to use water like in bidets. It would also go a long way to saving the millions of trees which produce the 7 billion rolls of toilet paper that Americans use yearly. People who don’t have plumbing use rags, leaves, including seaweed, corncobs, sand, streams, lakes, ocean water, too. Toilet paper was first made in the United States in 1857, Only wealthy people in other countries even used it. The Chinese were the first in the 6th century. It has caused a great deal of environmental damage, since.

  • Lindsay Cat

    This is such a fantastic article. I have referred to it many times for my work and I find new gems in it every time.

  • criminallyvulgar

    Just use ur socks.