Bamboo, Because We Give a Crap

Bamboo grove
Bamboo is the most sustainable source of paper, capable of growing up to 36 inches in a day.

Paper companies apparently think it is OK to wipe their butts - literally - with old-growth boreal forests. They are clear cutting them and turning them into toilet paper at record pace. As a result, we are flushing our forests down our toilets at a staggering rate. That is the conclusion of information complied by multiple sources, like this story in the Guardian, which says that bathroom tissue is getting less and less sustainable. A paper titled The Issue with Tissue, published by the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) in cooperation with named the names of the most offending brands.

Savvy shoppers will not be surprised to know that major brands, like Charmin, Quilted Northern and Angel Soft were named as some of the worst offenders, and they include zero recycled paper product in their tissue, creating a tree-to-toilet waste stream that is unbelievable huge. Toilet tissue is a $31 billion per year industry. The damage done is enormous. To quote the NRDC study:

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.

Some brands consumers would hope are sustainable may not be. Whole Foods Market's 365 "Sustainably Soft" brand received a "D" rating in the report, for example, while their other bath tissue got an "A." Trader Joe's also had "A" as well as "D" grade tissues.

Rather than switching to one of the "A" grade tree-based toilet papers, a growing number of sustainably-minded Americans are switching to an even better alternative: Bamboo.

Though bamboo is tall and grows in groves like trees, it is actually a grass. It requires no fertilizer or pesticides and re-grows from its own roots, so it does not need replanting. It can also grow at the lightning speed of 36 inches per day, meaning that a crop of bamboo can be harvested after months, rather than many years. These factors make bamboo the most sustainable source of paper and a number of companies are now offering bamboo toilet tissue, including Caboo, Seedling Tree-Free and Thrive Market. And, another bathroom tissue, Who Gives a Crap, is taking its sustainability to another level, by refusing to enclose their product in plastic wrapping.

Bamboo TP is as soft and strong as tree-based tissue and it is even more absorbent. It is fully biodegradable and safe for all septic systems. It also costs about the same. The best part: no forests are clear cut to manufacture it.

Considering that the average person in the USA using 50 pounds of TP every year, the choices we make about how we tidy our bums is important. We encourage everyone to stop wiping their butts with our old-growth boreal forests