Gallery: Egregious Packaging Hall of Fame: Why Toilet Paper Needs a Red...

The biggest beef with TP is the sourcing for the soft stuff. Apparently, you just can't get the supercushy TP that most Americans like via recycled materials. " is the fiber taken from standing trees that help give it that plush feel, and most large manufacturers rely on them. Customers “demand soft and comfortable,” said James Malone, a spokesman for Georgia Pacific, the maker of Quilted Northern. “Recycled fiber cannot do it," reports the New York Times.

Kimberly-Clark, the maker of pretty much all the softest TP we've heard of, has been targeted for years by the NRDC regarding its wood pulp sourcing for a throw-away product that is used for just seconds. About 12-15% of fluffy TP comes from old-growth trees in Canada, and healthy standing forest ecosystems in the southern US. These are active ecosystems that are home to a complex web of species that are cut down so we can wipe our butts. Sure, many of them are replanted after the companies have devastated the area, but have you ever seen a forest before and after clear-cutting? It's ugly and depressing.

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  1. ArtInsideYou October 27, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Good comments BoulderRon … and great website!

  2. sage October 27, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I agree it is about time we “rolled out” anew TP design….Hemp, the mother of multi use plants is perfect for this job! Go HEMP Go!

  3. BoulderRon October 27, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    I have a geologist friend that we joke with because of a camping trip where he used a rock… (or two, not sure) Joke is at least he knew what kind of rock he used! LOL!!

    Hemp toilet paper IS on its way back. I was in a company meeting last week where our CEO presented the “first roll” of 100% tree-free hemp TP as a new addition to our Versativa line of hemp based products. It was “soft enough for me” as one of my fellow hemp enthusiast put it. Oh, and don’t worry Bevis, hemp TP is THC-free!

    Hemp is one of the best solutions in my opinion. However, the USA is the only country in the World that industrial hemp is illegal to grow! (even when under local laws, not federal, mmj can be grown.) yet it is the largest importer of hemp. (We are working on that problem and already have thousands of acres awaiting approval for a pilot farming program) Please sign the petition to Let Our Farmers Grow Our Economy here:

    There is so many interesting facts to learn about the history of hemp and more news about hemp’s future as we work toward creating a greater demand for hemp products like hemp TP.

    Tonight 10-27-2011 there is a live conference call about the current line of healing hemp products for brain health, for stress and pain, as well as a raw food source. I have created a site that people can learn about the history, etc. as the call will come and go and so many will miss it. The call information is here: The site I mentioned about the history of hemp, Versativa, etc. can be found here:

    Thanks Starre for your article, together we can design a greener future through simple choices today.

    Ron Maurer
    Boulder, CO

  4. snowvil August 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    We can use water jet spray. we use it in India. you save paper and you save environment from harmful chemical which are used to make paper. An honestly its not bad. infact when i came to Canada and i told my friends back in India that i use toilet paper, they were like eewww that’s disgusting. I think as per as hygiene is concerned both are equally hygienic/unhygienic. but as far as cost and environment impacts are concerned, water jet spray are way better. And im sure people will adapt to it too, its just a matter of manufacturing and advertising.

  5. SteveS August 29, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Thanks Starre for bringing our attention to a much overlooked problem – especially here in the US. Why we are cutting down old growth trees and literally flushing them down the toilet is beyond belief. There are much better alternatives out there that are more hygienic, easier, and much more Eco-friendly although what has been lacking is the education and experience of using these alternatives.

    The simplest and most hygienic change people can make is to switch to washing with water via a bidet, bidet attachment, or electronic bidet toilet seat. These are common overseas and slowly starting to catch on here in the US. My company Brondell makes and sells various bidet seats for the American market – both electronic versions as well as non-electric models. Once you experience washing with water – you will leave the paper (and the destruction of our forests) behind.

    You can learn more about the environmental benefits of using a bidet on our website:

    Thanks again for a great article!

  6. Melias August 29, 2011 at 8:05 am

    It’s incredible to think so much environmental damage could happen just because we want soft tissue to wipe our backsides with! Expensive luxury! Will definitely be changing our products next shopping trip! I like the above idea of looking into redesigning those materials of old into a sustainable product for todays world. Could be on a winner there!

  7. msyin August 28, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Since there is an alternative we could all look into just buying that and encouraging our friends to do the same so that manufacturers who really only seem to respond when revenue drops will come up with greener options. Clearly using trees for this item might need to be shelved and research into other materials considered and tested. Hemp? Moss? Bamboo? Maybe we could revisit what was produced in the past and redevelop and improve on the original idea. Cutting down an old growth forest for TP does seem to be the height of “asinine” behavior on all our behalf. I didn’t know old growth trees were used, but this will effect my next purchase and I hope it spurns others to think about another better, sustainable way for us to be clean and dry after using the loo (toilet).

  8. ecowaters August 26, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    I use fig leaves. Seriously. A massive leafy tree grows next to my house. Plus, I have a composting toilet….although cheap toilet paper decomposes faster than fig leaves. I have a new toilet paper garden coming up now. We’ll soon know if the leaves on these plants work out.

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