Toilet Paper made from Trees - 2 min read
It is estimated that every person in the UK uses an average of 125 toilet rolls per year, in a population exceeding 67 million, we flush down an average of; 8 billion 375 million rolls of toilet paper annually. Where does this paper come from?
Virgin Paper and Paper Pulp:
The first thing to remember is that virgin paper (pulp) is produced from cellulose and fibres originating in trees. Depending on the type of forestry practice, most trees are felled between 40-150 years; however, several independent global charities and research institutions have found evidence that show that parts of the Amazon and Boreal forests are still being clear cut for paper pulp and biomass energy. The myth that some industry specialists would like us to believe is that cutting down trees is sustainable! This is utter nonsense. We are not replenishing our forests at the same rate that we are clear cutting and destroying it. The most sustainable forest is one that still has all it's trees. Climate change proves that we need our forests to regulate the Earth's climate, prevent flooding and ensure that we have safe ecosystems for wildlife habitats that humans also depend on.
The most compelling issue regarding the usage of toilet rolls in the UK is that most of the toilet paper and paper pulp is imported from all over the world including the Amazon. So, even a UK manufacturer of paper gets their pulp from outside the UK. An estimated 1.3million tons of paper and pulp is used in the sector every year with roughly 1.1million tons being imported from over 26 different countries. So far I have yet to find any UK trees used for UK toilet paper.
Whilst recycled paper might be a better option than virgin, the chemical processes involved are questionable too. Leaching of certain chemicals into the water system is still prevalent today. There is no 100% clean process to remove the chemicals from the led based inks, dyes and plastic prints on paper that is recycled. Making white toilet paper rolls requires a bleaching process and whilst there are some environmentally 'safer' chemicals, these too can cause harm to the environment in larger quantities. Certain recycled paper products are still found to contain BPA, a neurotoxin and other harmful chemicals. To make recycled paper, there needs to be a combination of short fibres (recycled paper) and long fibres (virgin paper) in order to keep the quality of the paper reasonable and not tear easily.
March 21 marks the International Day of the Forests with this year’s theme being restoration, recovery and wellbeing. Restoring forests and allowing wildlife habitats is integral for human wellbeing as we have discovered especially during Covid. Our lives depends on the air we breathe, and we all know that trees provide us with our ability to exist in the form of food too.
There is an increasing demand on our trees as we search for alternatives to plastic pollution but there are other alternatives too.
At ShearWater Eco we pride ourselves on searching for those alternatives as we believe that the best place for a tree, is to stay in the ground.
We are constantly striving to find alternatives to tree made paper products and search for fast growing, renewable plant fibres that don’t come from trees. Through our ShearWater Eco Foundation, we support charities, individuals and community projects to help clean and restore the natural world. Charity@shearwatereco.com
For more information on the state of the worlds forests:
Images courtesy of Todd Southgate who lives in the Amazon
Todd Southgate: www.toddsouthgate.com