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Sustainable Living - One Step at a time: Toilet Paper


It's been a while since last, I posted here.

Today, I want to introduce another blogging series which I call "Sustainable Living - One Step at a time"

In the past, I have often written and talked about interesting new technologies and ideas in the biological field, some of which could be used to reduce the impact human kind makes on the environment. Although many dedicated brains are tackling these interesting challenges, there are even more who are not working in these kinds of fields. What can other people do to reduce one's impact on the environment? Generally, by adapting a more sustainable approach of living.  Because so many habits and other aspects of life would need to be changed, many people may not feel that it is worth pursuing these efforts because the perceived sacrifices would be too big. Alternatively, one may not know where to start. I do not exclude myself it the latter group.

So, instead of trying to do everything at the same time, I will in a less structured way chronicle how my family and I try to find a good middle ground towards a more sustainable live style - one step at a time. I hope that my discoveries will help others who want to make an impact on the environment but who may not work in such a field. In doing so, I may often talk about specific products. I don't mean to be an advertisement banner to these products but I do want to mention products I see to give specific practical examples of how small changes may look like.

Bath Tissues

I am sorry to start with something rather personal and potentially graphic :-) Today, I went to Costco to buy some cleaning supplies. We normally buy cleaning supplies there because bulk is cheaper. As I was standing in front of the Kirkland toilet paper, I thought that it's funny/ridiculous that most people right now are using fresh virgin paper once to do their business only to throw the toilet paper away afterwards. Although not universal, the use of toilet paper is certainly standard in the US. I do wonder how many new trees are cut down just so you can w--- y--- b--- ? I didn't know it then, but according to Wiki "one tree produces 100 pounds of toilet. An average American uses 50 pounds of toilet paper each year. According to the Census Bureau, there are about 307,006,550 in the US as of July 2010. Doing some rough math, this means that just for toilet paper 150 million trees are chopped down just for toilet paper production which is half of the entire US population - in other words: a lot of trees.

Right then, I realized that next to it, Costo was now also offering "Marcal small steps bath tissues". The same company offers other paper-based products, however, Costco does not offer them.

They claim that buying their products is "small step towards a greener earth". What makes this product greener? Bath tissues use 100% recycled paper. The paper is not whitened with bleach but some other means. Lastly, unlike Kirkland, four rolls are wrapped in one plastic wrapper, hence, slightly reducing type 4 plastic waste.

As a side note, it seems that local Marcal is based in the US. It appears that they are collecting, processing and shipping their paper within the US (New Jersey) unlike many other products that use cheap fast growing trees and processing from China.

The choice was clear to me. My first chronicled step towards a greener live style is simply to switch from regular bath tissues to those that are made from recycled paper.

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