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Cutting down trees for toilet paper is destroying our forests

Cutting down trees for toilet paper is destroying our forests

 There are really great applications for wood. Toilet paper is not one of them.

It’s easy to lose sight of the natural and unnatural capital that goes into making the products we interact with daily. The connections between these items and the resources used to produce them, the labour conditions and other impacts are hidden behind supply chains, and the same can be said for the food we consume. It makes it all too easy for us to avoid a sense of responsibility. 

When we think of single-use products, plastic straws and surgical face masks come to mind. Most of us haven’t thought much about toilet paper. Still, toilet paper is a single-use product that is in part responsible for deforestation, ecological disruption and the displacement of Indigenous communities.

How many trees are cut down for toilet paper?

Arguably buying toilet paper is a micro decision. However, according to a WWF report, 27,000 trees are cut down for toilet paper, flushed down the world’s toilets each day or dumped in landfills. 15% of deforestation is due to toilet paper production alone, according to the Natural Resource Defence Council. America

Forests are the lungs of the earth. Investing in forests doesn’t only help keep carbon out of the air; it also protects biodiversity and Indigenous communities. In a historic move to protect more than 85% of the world’s remaining forests, leaders of over 100 countries pledged to end deforestation by 2030. It’s a welcome effort, particularly in that it prioritises natural carbon sequestration systems. However, the pledge isn’t binding, and 2030 is almost a decade away.

Many of the leading tissue companies continue to rely on virgin fibre pulp in their products rather than investing in existing alternatives. The fact remains that the world is run on various assumptions that make it extremely difficult to lead disruptive, transformative change. With little competition to incentivise these companies to innovate, major toilet paper brands continue to do what they have always done best—cutting down trees, contaminating our air and waterways while getting rich.

Why bamboo toilet paper is better for the planet

Bamboo is one of the world’s fastest-growing plants, capable of growing up to 91 cm in 24 hours. Capable of absorbing 35% more carbon dioxide per hectare than similar plants, bamboo requires little water no fertiliser and regenerates on its own after cutting. So for a single-use product like toilet paper, bamboo makes sense. After three years of research and development, we arrived at a product we’re proud of. Made of 100% bamboo and entirely without trees, EcoRoll contains zero chlorine or toxins and requires only a fraction of the water needed to produce tree paper. 

For us, achieving Toitū climate positive certification also worked to ensure we held ourselves accountable. It is one of the most robust certifications of its kind. Beyond neutrality, climate-positive certification requires us to measure and offset our emissions to positively impact society and align with science-based targets, influence supply chain networks, and educate stakeholders taking meaningful science-led action to reduce carbon emissions. The latest IPCC report outlines the urgent need for us to adapt to our changing world. Compared to previous reports, this newest report acknowledges adaptation efforts for climate action are insufficient in effectively managing climate risks. 

Ultimately, the responsibility to stop destroying the planet is on the shoulders of the big corporations. There is an urgent need to preserve existing boreal forests and restore degraded areas if we are to avoid losing this relatively intact biodiversity haven and significant global carbon sink. There is a need to re-educate. We live in a society that has taught generations of people to see the world as something to be used rather than something we should be working in a relationship with. The more we remind ourselves of these connections, we can make the necessary changes, purchase a different brand or not buy that particular product at all.