Photo above: Tony the Misfit (back slowly); Feature Photo: *clairity*

Have you ever thought about where that plush, soft tissue that you wipe your bum with actually comes from?

“The tenderness of the delicate American buttocks,” according to the UK’s Guardian, “is causing more environmental devastation than the country’s love for gas-guzzling cars, fast food, or McMansions.”

North America’s obsession with uber-soft toilet paper has driven the growth of toilet paper giants, Kleenex, Cottonelle, and Charmin, by more than 40% in recent years. With $100 million worth of marketing for products like three-ply toilet paper and tissues infused with hand lotion, it’s no wonder people are buying this stuff.

“This is a product that we use for less than three seconds, and the ecological consequences of manufacturing it…are worse than driving a Hummer,” says Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Although toilet paper made from recycled fibers can be made at similar cost, the fibers taken from standing trees give toilet paper the luxurious plushness Americans demand.

“The tenderness of the delicate American buttocks… is causing more environmental devastation than the country’s love for gas-guzzling cars, fast food, or McMansions.”

According to a recent New York Times article, just 2% of Americans use 100% recycled toilet paper at home… even though approximately 70% of us recycle other products regularly. We bring our own bags to the grocery store, we try to walk a little more often, but when it comes time for bathroom duty, we excuse ourselves from eco-friendly obligations.

Where’s the break down, folks?

The majority of toilet paper rolls sold in the US come from virgin wood harvested from North America and Latin American countries.  Over 10,000 hectacres of Canada’s ancient boreal forest have been clear cut to make disposable tissues, and thousands more from Brazil’s rainforest continue to be destroyed every year.

Is softness really so important that we’re willing to sacrifice our planet’s oldest forests to wipe?

In my opinion, no forest should be destroyed for the briefest and most undignified of ends. What do you think?

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Community Connection:

Read 10 Tested and True Green Companies to learn more about businesses with an environmental conscience.