The voracious use of toilet paper in the United States — with the average American using almost three rolls each week and major manufacturers spurning alternative fibres — is destroying Canada’s forests and causing widespread environmental damage, two international environmental groups say.
A report on tissue paper use gave failing grades to the leading toilet paper, tissue and paper towel brands for using only virgin fibre pulp, mostly from Canada’s old boreal forests.
“Forests are too vital to flush away,” says the report, called The Issue With Tissue, released Wednesday by Natural Resources Defense Council and Stand.earth, international nonprofit environmental organizations that cooperated on the study.
The report hammered the three biggest tissue producers in the U.S. — Procter & Gamble, Georgia-Pacific, and Kimberly-Clark — over their big, recognizable brands such as Charmin, Cottonelle, Brawny, Bounty, Kleenex, Angel Soft, Quilted Northern and Viva.
“None of their flagship at-home brands contain recycled materials or alternative fibres, and each company misses other key commitments necessary to ensure their products do not come at the expense of the boreal forest,” according to the report.
The report also unrolls the incredible toilet paper use by consumers in the U.S., noting that just 150 years ago Americans used corncobs to clean up, but have since been drummed by marketing campaigns to demand the softest tissue they can get, which comes from Canada’s softwood.
The U.S. consumes more toilet paper than any other country, almost three rolls per person each week. The U.S. is followed by Germany and Britain in annual toilet paper consumption. They far out-pace the other nations. Canada isn’t in the top 10.
It’s created an industry absorbing $31 billion in revenue every year in the U.S, the report says.
Compounding the environmental concerns is that all of those trees turned into pulp and made into tissue are then flushed down the toilet without recycling diversion.
The report calls that a “tree-to-toilet pipeline.”
Rampant use of virgin pulp tissue is threatening the way of life for Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, causing large environmental damage, endangering wildlife and contributing to climate change, the report says: “Tissue products made from virgin fibre pulp, which comes from trees, are a clear threat to our climate.”