Toilet paper is big business, and huge companies compete for your dollars. It’s no wonder that companies like Charmin have “spokes bears” to get you to buy their product. Toilet paper is also one of those consumer products that most of us use and no one talks about – and certainly, not where it goes after we “go!”

However, environmental scientists are talking about toilet paper a great deal because it has become an environmental catastrophe.

Ultra Plush is an Ultra Problem

Americans are pre-occupied with softness. To make ultra-plush, quilted and super soft paper requires the use of old growth forests and virgin pulp. There is no reason why we shouldn’t all be using toilet paper made from recycled paper fiber. Yet, according to the latest statistics only about five percent of Americans use toilet paper made from recycled paper. Ironically, when we go to a hotel or need to visit the restroom facilities at our workplaces or restaurants, 75 percent of the time, that paper is recycled. We seem to survive that experience just fine!

While we are on the topic, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States could save 470,000 trees and nearly 170 million gallons of water if everyone in the traded just one roll of regular toilet paper for a recycled roll each year.

Recycled toilet paper is not necessarily cheaper, but it is by far “less expensive” to the environment. There are also papers that combine both recycled fibers and virgin fibers which creates a very satisfactory feel and an environmental advantage.

Expansion of the quilted stuff

Another problem with the ultra-plush and very soft papers is how much it expands. It is a heavy-ply paper and may be several sheets thick as opposed to recycled paper that is a little thinner. People tend to use too much of the plush stuff as well and that leads to a lot of clogs in drains and pipes. “Down the road,” into the waste treatment facilities and waterways, plush toilet paper is creating major problems due to its inability to easily break down, as do plush baby diapers and thick bathroom tissue.

While don’t want to get too personal, if you are unwilling to give recycled toilet paper a try, try using a little less.

Toilet Paper is bleached

Most of the supermarket brands of toilet paper are bleached to get that look of purity. The problem is that the chemicals used are anything but pure. As if the use of all that bleach weren’t enough, there is a chemical by-product of bleaching that is released into the environment called dioxin.

Once dioxin is released into the environment, bacteria cannot break it down. It is even found in the toilet paper products themselves. Dioxin has been found to increase the incidence of cancers, diabetes, decrease immunity, affect learning and lowers male hormone levels.

Those at risk for higher dioxin levels include people who eat a great deal of fish, those who work in paper-making facilities and firefighters who must battle paper blazes.

It is a topic we may not want to think about; nevertheless toilet paper does present an environmental problem our planet must face. We can all do our part.