Trees for Toilet Paper: Good or Bad?

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Sanitation: essential for developed countries, and a fast-growing priority for developing countries. Included with clean water and food includes access to clean lavatories. And with clean lavatories comes toilet paper.

But where does toilet paper actually come from? The name itself, “toilet paper,” implies that it is being derived from trees. Each day, 27,000 worth of trees as toilet paper are either flushed or thrown into landfills. Though some argue using recycled toilet paper would be better for preserving the number of trees cut down for our sanitation needs, it does not solve the overall environmental problem. Recycled toilet paper takes up a lot of energy and additional chemicals to make, which poses different threats to the environment apart from losing trees.

But the other side of the argument cannot be denied: toilet paper is essential for Western civilization, and is a priority for other developing countries in order to increase the quality of life, and thus global health. Toilet paper is a basic necessity, and thus can argued that it not be denied to any person who needs them.

These contradictions have had people scratching their heads trying to solve this problem. Is it right to continue to cut down roughly 10% of our global trees for toilet paper, or is there a better, more environmentally friendly solution that doesn’t involve introducing more toxins into the environment? And what of developing countries? Should they not be denied the right to toilet paper as part of proper sanitation efforts?

The question of the day remains unanswered, but until there’s a better solution, we’ll continue as we have.

For more information, please check out these links:

http://voices.nationalgeographic.org/2010/04/16/27000_trees_a_day_used_for_toilet_tissue/

http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6403

Categories: The Big Picture

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