A new report from the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) reveals that your choice in toilet paper can cause major permanent damage to the Canadian boreal forest — and therefore affect climate change. Despite the Canadian boreal being the largest intact forest and home to species not found anywhere else in the world, it is threatened by industrial logging.
This forest in particular is a major source of northern bleached softwood kraft (NBSK), the U.S. toilet paper industry’s benchmark grade of pulp. Logging for this grade is severe, and in fact “between 1996 and 2015, more than 28 million acres of boreal forest were logged, an area roughly the size of Ohio.”
Not only are species and Indigenous Peoples losing precious land, but also the Earth is losing critical climate-change defenses. Forests like the Canadian boreal are considered a carbon sink because their trees store immense amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Thus, cutting these trees down emits millions of tons of carbon, cranking up the speed of climate change.
The report states that an average four-person U.S. family uses over 100 pounds of toilet paper per year. This is way more than other countries and creates a “tree-to-toilet pipeline” where trees are harvested, converted to toilet paper, and then flushed.
NRDC has found that alternatives made from recycled materials exist and are “far more sustainable because they do not rely on clearcutting forests and they emit one-third the greenhouse gases as tissue products made from virgin fiber.”
So keep your conscience out of the toilet by following NRDC’s toilet paper scorecard above. Let’s prevent our forests from being, er, wiped out.