Do you know where your toilet paper comes from? Consumers may be unknowingly complicit in flushing forests down the toilet.
New “Issue with Tissue” report flunks Charmin and other major toilet paper brands for using zero recycled content and instead relying on trees clearcut from vital ecosystems like the Canadian boreal forest.
A new report by Stand.earth and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) takes the largest tissue companies to task for destroying North American forests and exacerbating the world’s climate crisis. “The Issue with Tissue” reveals Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark, and Georgia-Pacific use zero recycled content in their at-home toilet paper, instead relying on ancient trees clear-cut from the Canadian boreal forest (the “Amazon of the North”).
Read the “Issue with Tissue” report: stand.earth/latest/issue-with-tissue-report-flunks-charmin
The average American uses three rolls of toilet paper a week — and major brands’ refusal to create more sustainable products makes consumers unwittingly complicit in flushing forests down the toilet.
This destructive “tree-to-toilet pipeline” does massive harm to Indigenous Peoples and iconic species like the boreal caribou and Canada lynx. Canada’s boreal forest also stores nearly two times as much carbon as is in all the world’s recoverable oil reserves combined. Toilet paper and tissue manufacturers continue to rely on forests even though they have the resources and means to create and deliver products with recycled and responsibly sourced content that are better for the planet.
The Stand.earth and NRDC report features a sustainability-based scorecard for at-home tissue brands, assigning “F” grades to such leading U.S. toilet paper brands as Charmin, Quilted Northern, and Angel Soft. Brands using recycled paper content, including 365, Seventh Generation, and Natural Value were among those awarded “A” grades in the report. The Stand.earth and NRDC scorecard also ranks facial tissues and paper towels.
Charmin, the nation’s leading toilet paper brand made by Procter & Gamble, is specifically called out for refusing to increase its use of recycled materials.
Procter & Gamble, the maker of America’s leading toilet paper brand, must stop flushing forests down the toilet. Procter & Gamble has the innovation resources to bring Charmin into the 21st century. The question is whether the company will embrace its reputation as an innovator and start creating sustainable products using recycled and sustainably sourced materials instead of clear-cut trees.
The Canadian boreal is a vast landscape of coniferous, birch, and aspen trees. It contains some of the last of the world’s remaining intact forests, and is home to over 600 Indigenous communities, as well as boreal caribou, pine marten, and billions of songbirds. The loss of intact boreal forest is impacting Indigenous Peoples’ ways of life and driving the decline of caribou and other species.
“As Indigenous Peoples in the boreal forest, we live on the food from our land. The forest is our supermarket, with aisles of berries and meats and fish. My hope is that, once people know that their choice of tissue will determine whether food will be there for us tomorrow, they will help protect our homelands by switching to recycled and responsibly sourced products,” said Deputy Grand Chief Mandy Gull, Cree Nation.
“As a Canadian, I am horrified that Charmin and other leading brands are making toilet paper out of trees clearcut from ancient boreal forests. These forests are some of the most important intact ecosystems left on earth — they are the breeding grounds for the majority of North America’s songbirds and home to threatened species such as boreal caribou — and we are flushing them down the toilet?” said Tzeporah Berman, director, International Program, Stand.earth.
Fortunately, solutions to the tree-to-toilet pipeline already exist. Instead of relying on virgin fiber from ancient forests, tissue companies can use recycled content or sustainably sourced alternative fibers. Use of these materials to create tissue can dramatically reduce our destructive impact on the boreal and other forests in North America and around the world.
The Stand.earth and NRDC report reveals that the United States is a particularly voracious consumer of tissue products. The U.S. tissue market generates $31 billion in revenue every year, second only to China. Americans, who make up just over 4 percent of the world’s population, account for over 20 percent of global tissue consumption.
Stand.earth and NRDC are calling on Procter & Gamble and other toilet paper and tissue manufacturers to shift to recycled content and sustainable alternative fibers, and to take additional steps to ensure their supply chain is fully protective of boreal caribou habitat and respects Indigenous Peoples’ rights to their lands. Now is the time for action to mitigate the climate crisis and protect the world’s remaining forests, rather than flushing our vital forest ecosystems away.
Read the “Issue with Tissue” report online at https://www.stand.earth/latest/issue-with-tissue-report-flunks-charmin.
Stand.earth (formerly ForestEthics) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with offices in Canada and the United States that is known for its groundbreaking research and successful corporate and citizens engagement campaigns to create new policies and industry standards in protecting forests, advocating the rights of indigenous peoples and protecting the climate. Visit us at www.stand.earth and follow us on Twitter @standearth.