The motto “think globally, act locally” has inspired community-led environmental and social activism around the world for several decades. It reminds us that solutions to global problems can start at home, that day-to-day decisions have broad-reaching impacts and that each of us can play an integral role in improving the fabric of society.
Deforestation is a global problem, resulting in loss of critical habitat and biodiversity, increased global temperatures, flooding, and even pandemics. One very simple action Palisadians can take to help reduce their deforestation footprint is to reach for sustainable toilet paper.
On average, each American uses about 23.6 rolls of toilet paper a year, 95% made with fiber from virgin timber. Although there is an increasing amount of this pulp from tree farms, thousands of tons are still coming from the old growth, climate-critical boreal forests of Canada, the National Wildlife Federation reported.
The Natural Resources Defense Council estimated that if every household in the United States replaced a single roll of virgin fiber toilet paper with a roll from 100% PCW recycled paper, this would save up to 423,900 trees.
And although alternative-fiber toilet papers can play a role in reducing our reliance on natural forests, it’s important to be an informed consumer because the market is flooded with cleverly marketed products that lack robust supply chain monitoring.
The best choice for paper-based toilet paper is 100% PCW and PCF, according to NRDC.
Here’s what you’re looking for:
- Post-consumer waste (PCW) content: Aim for 100% PCW, but a minimum of 50% PCW will earn your toilet paper a grade “B” from NRDC. (Don’t confuse this with “pre-consumer waste,” which provides far fewer benefits.)
- PCF (processed chlorine free) or for virgin fibers, TCF (totally chlorine free) uses non-chlorine alternatives: oxygen, ozone or peroxide. Chlorine and chlorine derivatives introduce large quantities of dioxins (toxic chemicals) into the environment. These chemicals do not break down easily but rather, build up in the food chain.
- FSC certified: If your toilet paper is not 100% PCW, always look for the FSC-certified label to ensure the wood for it was sustainably sourced.
- Rainforest Alliance: If you see this, you’re doing great. This high-level certification ensures a low impact, tree-based toilet paper.
- For bamboo-based products:
- Chlorine-free bleaching process
- B-Corp logo
Google “NRDC toilet paper scorecard” to see how your toilet paper scores.
Resilient Palisades is a locally founded environmental nonprofit. Community members who have not completed the organization’s Pali Microgrid survey can do so at resilientpalisades.org/survey.
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