Paths To Knowledge (dot Science)

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Use soft toilet paper on your derriere

Posted by pwl on March 5, 2009

Arguments about ‘virgin fibre’ nonsense, environmentalist says by Patrick Moore

Greenpeace, with strong support from the Natural Resources Defense Council, has come out against the sale of soft toilet tissue made with “virgin” fibre. It claims that using trees to make toilet paper is worse for the environment than driving Hummers or building McMansions.

My old organization [Greenpeace] wants Canadians to use recycled paper for TP and it’s targeting Kimberly-Clark, Procter and Gamble, and other large tissue producers. Apparently hair shirts aren’t sufficient, now we must wipe with scratchy paper to rid ourselves of eco-guilt.

It makes a good story and news outlets around the world have dutifully picked it up. But it is absolute nonsense, for a number of reasons.

Not only toilet paper, but also paper in general, is made from waste from sawmills that are providing lumber to build our homes and furniture. When North American forests are harvested, all the logs that are suitable for making lumber are sawn for that purpose. Lumber is worth more than paper, so no lumber company would be foolish enough to chip logs that are suitable for making 2x4s.

Paper is made from the sawdust and chips left over from sawmilling, and from logs that are not suitable for making lumber. In environmental terms this is the beneficial use of what would otherwise be a waste product. Indeed, the parts of the log that are not suitable for paper, such as the bark and fine sawdust, are burned to make energy to run the sawmill and to dry the lumber.

In the end, 100 per cent of the tree is used. What is wrong with that?

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