Australians get through an estimated 88 rolls of toilet paper per person per year. Americans appear to be more enthusiastic wipers, using an average of 141 rolls per year. That’s a lot of paper getting flushed away! Times have changed since Aussies hung squares of newspaper in the dunny. There are now plenty of options in the supermarket: luxury four-ply, triple-length three-ply, silky soft king-size. Best not to be in a hurry if you like to consider your choices.
Where does all this paper come from? It’s not only the trees getting a bum deal. Recent reports claim that the energy and water-intensive chemical process of turning trees into toilet paper is causing harm to indigenous people, wildlife and the planet’s capacity to store carbon. See National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
You might find toilet tissue made from recycled paper if you really search. (No, it is not made from old toilet paper, but old office paper!) This option is only about 3% of the market according to Planet Ark. The process uses up to 50% less energy and 90% less water than using virgin materials, says the NRDC.
Sadly, the vast majority of Australia’s locally produced tissue is made out of imported virgin pulp from plantations in Canada, Brazil and Chile. It may be some consolation that most have been certified by independent third parties recognising responsible environmental management.
If this bothers you, take heart! Paper alternatives are available. No Issues uses bamboo. Pure Planet combines bamboo with recycled sugarcane waste material. Both are proudly tree-free.
Who Gives A Crap donates 50% of its profits towards building toilets in the developing world. The company offers recycled and bamboo options, each with paper packaging. Bamboo grows super fast, is easily renewable, uses less land than trees, produces less particulate matter and CO2 emissions per tonne of paper produced. It needs no tending, irrigation or fertilisation and can be harvested once a year. (Psst: for bulk supply (ie no freight) of Who Gives A Crap go to Booths Confectionery, 17 Sydney Road, Mudgee.)
The information in this article came from ABC Organic Gardener, Issue 112, Spring 2019.
Join the conversation about environmental issues: Mudgee District Environment Group (MDEG) Contact: 0427 920 887.