Toilet paper has a bigger impact on the environment than you might realize, but there's a way you can help change that without wiping less.
Over 28 millions acres of forest - roughly the size of Ohio - is logged each year to harvest enough trees to make products like toilet paper and facial tissue. Most of that logging takes place in Canada's portion of the boreal forest, which is the world's largest intact forest. But it won't stay that way much longer if this amount of logging continues.
"Our demand for tissue is devastating the boreal, with serious consequences for Indigenous Peoples, treasured wildlife, and the global climate," the National Resources Defense Council wrote in a recent report.
But the NRDC says that things don't have to be like that. There are other, more sustainable sources for toilet paper and facial tissue.
"We already know of options for more sustainable tissue production—specifically by using recycled materials and responsibly-sourced alternative fibers. Yet, major companies have largely failed to adopt them."
One of those alternative fibers that could be used to make eco-friendly toilet paper is hemp. Hemp-based tissues offer numerous advantages over traditional, wood-based ones, according to the Ecological Agriculture Projects at McGill University. Hemp grows significantly faster than trees, yields four times as much pulp (the base product used in tissue products) and doesn't require nearly as much processing to be made into toilet paper.
Switching to hemp pulp wouldn't come at much cost to industry either. Most facilities built for processing wood pulp would need little to no updating or conversion to handle hemp pulp instead. And the recreational cannabis industry could be an excellent source of raw materials. As it stands right now, the industry is forced to throw away all of the cannabis plant that isn't harvested for recreational sale. But all of that waste could easily be diverted to business looking to make cannabis-based paper products.
And while you're not likely to find hemp toilet paper on the shelf at your local supermarket just yet, there are a few companies pushing to bring more environmentally friendly TP to the people. Brands like Hempies Paper and Hemp So Soft currently sell their hemp-based bathroom tissue online, and a number of companies based in China (the world's largest producer of hemp) sell their wares to American customers on sites like Alibaba.
h/t: The GrowthOp