A few months ago I made a commitment to myself to only buy 100% recycled toilet tissue, facial tissues, and paper towels. With the exception of one box of Kleenex purchased in haste at Walgreens when I had a bad cold, Iâ€™ve made good on that promise.
For the most part itâ€™s meant remembering to buy tissue products when Iâ€™m at Whole Foods where they sell the recycled stuff rather then just stepping out to the corner store where all I can get is virgin fiber tissue. Itâ€™s not been a difficult transition, and I saw the other day that even the corner store is now selling 100% recycled paper towels.
The brand Iâ€™ve been buying the most is Seventh Generation, and Iâ€™ve found their products to be a good replacement. I never really knew how much virgin fiber was used in tissue products, but all the major brands until I heard an NRDC representative speak at a conference. Kleenex, Puffs, Charmin, Cottonelle, Bounty, Scott, and Viva all use virgin fiber in their tissue products â€“ Iâ€™m avoiding these brands at all costs.
This may sound crazy, but if every household in the U.S. replaced just one box of 85 sheet virgin fiber facial tissues with 100% recycled ones, we could save:
- 87,700 trees
- 226,500 cubic feet of landfill space, equal to 330 full garbage trucks
- 31 million gallons of water, a yearâ€™s supply for 240 families
- And avoid 5,300 pounds of pollution
The numbers are even higher for one roll of toilet paper (500 sheet roll-423,900 trees) or paper towels (70 sheet roll-544,000 trees), imagine how many trees would be saved if everyone began to shop for recycled tissue products.
What are the other trade-offs? The one thatâ€™s most important to talk about is softness. The recycled stuff just isnâ€™t as soft as the virgin fiber â€“ why this is Iâ€™m not sure, but the big paper companies will tell you this is the number one criteria you and I have for our tissue products and why they do not include any recycled content.
My feeling is that there is a difference between â€œas soft as possibleâ€ and â€œsoft enough.â€ After several months of use of 100% recycled tissue products, Iâ€™m here to report that Iâ€™ve suffered no lasting ill effects due to a lack of softness. Even my girlfriend who complained for the first five or six rolls is now on board and making sure we get the recycled stuff.
For more information on what brands to look for as well as more facts on the impact of tissue products, please check out the NRDC web site. They also have this handy wallet card you can print out and take shopping with you.