REVISED: We can lighten our impact on the environment by adopting water-saving practices and using recycled paper products in the bathroom!
Date: 6/25/2005 2:56:58 AM ( 8 y ) ... viewed 1448 times
RECYCLED PAPER PRODUCTS
Regarding toilet paper and facial tissue: Greenpeace has a campaign going to boycott Kimberly-Clark, the largest tissue-products company in the world, makers of Kleenex, Scott, Viva and Cottonelle brand products, because the company is clear-cutting ancient forests in Canada, including the Heart of the Boreal Forest, to produce their paper products.
Alternatives to Kleenex and other "mainstream" commercial tissues is to buy toilet paper and facial tissue from companies that use recycled paper. The July/August issue of Sierra, the magazine of the Sierra Club, states that Americans use 400 million miles of toilet paper each year! "If none of it were made from recycled paper, we would use up the equivalent of 50 million trees"!
The magazine goes on to explain the terms "post-consumer" when it applies to recycled paper: post-consumer paper is "paper that's been recycled after people actually use it. Otherwise, papermakers can use the word 'recycled' for scraps and trimmings that never even left the mill. Calling such stuff recycled is like a food label screaming 'cholesterol free' on a product that didn't have it in the first place."
Many big-name companies have toilet paper stating they do contain 20% authentic post-consumer waste. However, Sierra cites the company Seventh Generation as having the highest post-consumer content in its 100% recycled paper toilet tissue--80 percent (with 20% pre-consumer). I have been using Seventh Generation products for years, and find it to be an environmentally responsible company that not only uses recycled paper, but uses hydrogen peroxide (breaks down into hydrogen and water in the environment) and sodium hydrosulfite, a non-toxic biodegradable bleach made from salt and oxygen, to bleach their toilet and facial tissue. Their paper products are also free of dyes, inks, and fragrances.
I do want to note that the box of Seventh Generation's facial tissue states that it is "100% recycled paper, 20% minimum post-consumer, 80% pre-consumer"; in other words, the post-consumer amount is not as high as in their toilet paper. Suggestion: don't buy the facial tissue, and use the toilet paper to blow your nose.
Better yet, don't use tissue to blow your nose at all! I attended a retreat some time ago and the participants got around to discussing ways to use less facial tissue and save trees: use cloth handkerchiefs instead of facial tissue; go in the bathroom and blow your nose in your hand and then rinse off in the sink (gross!); blow your nose on any convenient piece of apparel you are wearing, such as a scarf, as it'll get thrown in the wash anyway. I took this last piece of advise to heart: Now when I'm outside gardening and sneezing, as I inevitably do during pollen season, I just use the sleeves of whatever shirt I'm wearing. The shirt's just going to get all sweaty anyway, and thrown in the laundry as soon as I get in the house.
One woman at the retreat told of how she'd given up using toilet paper. She uses TP for "poop" as she put it (why are adults so squeemish about saying "bowel movement" and "urinate"?) but uses a soft cloth to wipe with for "pee", then rinses it out after each use. I grimaced when she said this--somehow this may not be too suitable for folks with sensitive skin. I don't think I'm going to go this far, but I have tried to use less toilet paper squares per wipe, and I have been recycling the empty cardboard toilet paper rolls for years.
Remember the saying: "If it's brown, flush it down, if it's pee, let it be"? I vaguely remember being in college during Jerry Brown's stint as governor of California when this state experienced a drought (when has Southern California NOT been in a drought?) and concerned citizens stopped flushing their toilets for a period of time. We have reinstated this practice in my house, as well as installing a water-saving low-flow toilet (1.6 gallons a flush).
I read somewhere that the U.S. is one of the few industrialized countries that flushes drinking water down the toilet, and because we live in Southern California, which is, by nature's original standards, a desert, we need to conserve as much water as we can. Because my bathroom plumbing has a history of being iffy, I don't put the used toilet paper in the toilet to accumulate there, thus risking an overflow when the toilet is finally flushed; it's placed in a trash can in the bathroom. The toilet is flushed about 2-3 times a day, enough to keep it from smelling like a sewer.
As to saving water, let's do the math: My prior toilet was an almost-50-years-old water-waster supreme, using a whopping 7 gallons per flush! Just by buying a new toilet, I'm saving over 5 gallons of water every time I flush!
Taking it a step further, using the new toilet (1.6 gallons per flush) and adopting the "if it's brown, flush it down, if it's pee, let it be," philosophy, my household eliminates(ha, ha, pun intended!) about 8 flushes per day, saving almost 13 gallons of water a day. This saves a total of 4,672 gallons of water a year, just from my household! Imagine if every person in the State of California who wasn't in diapers used this water-saving practice!
Our State's population is 39 million. Say that 30 million people participated in this plan. Say that everyone uses low-flow toilets at home and at work. Let's do the math again:
30 million people eliminate 4 flushes per day, saving 1.6 gallons per flush, for 365 days a year: 30 million X 4 X 1.6 X 365 = over 70 BILLION GALLONS OF WATER SAVED A YEAR!! I don't know how far this goes towards eliminating drought in the State of California, but I figure it's got to count for something!
Thanks for going green!
Seventh Generation: http://www.seventhgen.com includes information on all of their products, including eco-friendly household cleaning products.
If you can't find Seventh Generation products in your local stores, go to http://www.treecycle.com/cattissue.html to purchase in bulk from Treecycle, a wholesaler. They also have information about other paper products, including computer paper.
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