Employing your butt to save trees

June 29, 2009 | By | Reply More

Americans talk a good game when it comes to the environment, but most of us aren’t willing to do much of anything at all. Are you willing to ride the bus, carpool, cut down on your consumption of meat, eat produce only in-season? No thanks,” say most Americans. That’s my personal experience, based on talking with numerous “concerned” citizens. Most people that I talk with tell me that they will make changes only when the “market” makes it worth their while. It’s crazy, but that’s the way it is.

How about this option:  Would you be willing to use one roll of recycled toilet paper per year if it would save 425,000 trees? Resoundingly, America has said “no thanks,” according to Time Magazine:

[A] mainstream brand, Scott, started offering toilet paper made with 40% recycled fiber. Switching to such material could make a big difference: the NRDC estimates that if every household in the U.S. replaced just one 500-sheet roll of virgin-fiber TP a year with a roll made from 100% recycled paper, nearly 425,000 trees would be saved annually. . . Hence Greenpeace’s four-year-long campaign to pressure paper companies . . . to stop cutting down virgin forests. . .

It’s possible — but few Americans are doing it. Toilet paper containing 100% recycled fiber makes up less than 2% of the U.S. market, while sales of three-ply luxury brands like Cottonelle Ultra and Charmin Ultra Soft shot up 40% in 2008.

Considering that the average family uses about 20 rolls of toilet paper per month, NRDC’s suggestion is not a laughing matter.

Based on my conversations with lots of people, though, being responsible to the environment is truly a laughing matter for most Americans.  They just don’t get it, unless it affects their pocketbooks.


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Category: American Culture, Environment

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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