Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Toilet Paper's Dirty Little Secret

Yes. Even toilet paper has something to hide. We use every day, several times a day and never even give a thought to the toilet paper aftermath. Recently, i started saving the toilet paper rolls because i like the size, shape and texture of them from an artist standpoint. Then, when I opened my shop on etsy that is dedicated to earth friendly products, I started hunting down some information. I was pretty surprised at the statistics that I found.

So lets talk facts for a minute here. 

30.6 billion rolls of toilet paper are used worldwide every year.

That being said, 80% of the world population doesn't use toilet paper. Water is the preferred solution to cleaning up. That means that of the 8 million people on the planet, only 2 billion are contributing to the following numbers.

People use 80% more toilet paper than salt and 63% more than milk annually and yet very few people ever consider the environmental impact of the amount of paper that is going into landfills and the water sources.

348 trees must be cut down and destroyed to make the toilet paper that one person will use in their lifetime.

If every household used 1 (Yes, I said one!) 12 pack of toilet paper made from recycled post consumer paper, 1 900,000 trees would be saved. It would save 690 gallons of water in the production, and would eliminate 4.8 cubic feet of landfill space. That is staggering when you think about it. One 12 pack, folks! I think everyone can manage that!

The toilet paper tube alone amounts to 160 million tons of landfill waste every year. 80% of the population knows they should recycle them but still only 35% do.

Tubes used yearly placed end to end would stretch a roughly million mile span. That is equal to the distance to the moon and back.

Several companies have come up with alternative products using recycled post consumer paper. However, getting people to break away from what they are accustom to and try the product is still a challenge. I use one of these products religiously.(in paper towels and napkins too!) and my backside survived just fine.

Here is a brief overview of the products that are out there. I am sure there are others in smaller organic makers and such but these are the ones I know to be readily available in the mainstream grocery stores and superstores.

7TH GENERATION- I like this company a lot. They have devoted their company entirely to earth friendly green products. ALL of them. Most other companies that put out a green product still keep the not so green ones on the shelf as well which in reality doesn't solve the problem.

Their toilet paper:
-is made from 100% recycled paper, 50% of which is post consumer.
-it is whitened without chemicals
-is starting to become more mainstream in grocery stores and superstores.

They also carry a full line of cleaning products that are totally green, everything from spray cleaners to dishwasher soap (don't even get me started about that!) and laundry soap. I use the cleaning product throughout my house and love them.

MARCEL SMALL STEPS-I also like this product. However, as I said before, I wish that they would go totally green eliminating the option to use the more harmful product. I do understand the marketing impact of that of course but to me, this is far more important.

Their toilet paper-

-is made with 100% recycled paper
-is made with no dyes or fragrances
-has a tube made from 100% post costumer paper
_is more readily available to common markets.

SCOTT NATURALS-this product was recently releases with no tube inside the roll. A brilliant idea but not new technology. Tubeless rolls have been used in commercial settings for years. Those big tubes of paper you see in most public restrooms are tube free.

Their toilet paper-

-is tubeless which is great.
-is made from 40% recycled paper.

So what can we do? First, I would say give one of the products (or any others that you can easily purchase) a try.I assure you, the difference in the product is easy to grow accustom to. In terms of the tubes, there are a million great ideas to repurpose them. I have seen many clever ways to use them. Use them to store cables or candles. Fill them with strips of paper and twigs and use them to start your fire in the fireplace. Cut them in half and use them as seed starter plants. And of course, there are a million craft ideas out there as well.

and if you think you can't make amazing stuff with them, check out a few of my finds.

One way of repurposing  I hadn't really thought of myself is to cut them on one side length wise and slide them on hangers to prevent hanger creases. You can put them on the bottom for slacks and on the top for blouses and dresses.

Now that I have a store on etsy.com I am finding that I am frequently shipping products, some of them fragile. Toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls make a great packing solution as you can see in the picture below.. Just place them around the object to keep it from shipping. As you can see, it is customizable so it fits your item perfectly every time. You can tape them together with packing tape for added stability. Not only does this repurpose the tubes. It eliminates the use of styrofoam (both noodles and dye cut blocks) that also has an incredibly negative impact on the environment. I will be covering solutions to this problem in my next blog. I am starting to look around at whom I need to contact in  general to have a discussion about this alternative commercially.

My hope for the future is to eliminate the need for trees to create paper products as a whole. In fact, my desire is for people to start thinking AND ACTING in a greener way so that we support the health and sustainability of our planet. We only have one and God's children have to live on it for a very long time.

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  1. These are some great ideas for recycling! I love seventh generation brand. All of their products are really great!

  2. Thanks. Me too. wait til you see what i am doing with styrofoam!