Saturday, November 10, 2007

Paper Products: Toilet Paper & Paper Towel

Looking for an easy first step to make your bathroom more eco-friendly? Try replacing your toilet paper and paper towel (if you’re not using a cloth towel) with recycled paper. Look for products that meet the following criteria:

1. High post-consumer content (meaning recycled paper previously used by consumers). Look for products with 80% post-consumer content or higher.

2. Chlorine free bleaching process. Many companies bleach their paper products with chlorine to make their paper nice and white. This unfortunately releases harmful chemicals into the air and water which impacts the environment (including you)! Purchase products labeled with TCF (totally chlorine free), PCF (processed chlorine free) or ECF (elemental chlorine free).

Products To Try: Check out the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Shoppers Guide to Home Tissue Products. They’ve compared brands offering facial tissue, toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins.

I’ve recently switch to recycled toilet paper and plan to try out the brands listed in the NRDC’s guide (I’ll provide a review once I get through a few of them). I’m on my first pack of Seventh Generation toilet paper and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how soft it is! I used to be a regular user of Charmin and I had a hard time with the idea of giving it up. But I did and I have no regrets.

But Why Bother? Here’s how making this change will impact the environment, the people around you, and your wallet:

Environmental Impact: The paper products we use in the bathroom on a daily basis are filling our landfills and destroying millions of trees and animal habitats. Using recycled products uses less energy and water and helps save trees. According to the NRDC if every household in the US replaced one 500 sheet roll of virgin fiber toilet paper (a.k.a. toilet paper made without recycled contents) with 100% recycled ones we could save 423,900 trees. And if we all replaced one roll of virgin fiber paper towel (70 sheets) with 100% recycled ones we could save 544,000 trees.

Social Impact: According to Seventh Generation, a company that specializes in creating non-toxic household products, “bleaching paper with chlorine creates dangerous toxins such as dioxins, furans and other organochlorines. Once loose in the environment, these chemicals accumulate in both people and animals. Hundreds of studies have shown a direct link between dioxin exposure and cancer, birth defects and developmental and reproductive disorders.” Message to you: Don’t expose your family, friends or customers to the harmful toxins that are potentially released by chlorine-bleached paper. Use chlorine-free products whenever possible.

Economic Impact: Recycled toilet paper is NOT necessarily more expensive. I’ve seen 4-roll packs of recycled toilet paper cost anywhere between $1.99 and $4.00 depending on the brand and store. At Safeway 4 rolls of Quilted Northern will cost you $2.89. I’ll be doing more research here and provide you with a better comparison soon.

1 comment:

Annnie said...

Thank you for the NRDC link! i love that organization, i'm passing the recycled products reviews link around to friends and will add it to my blog.