13 Crazy Facts About Home Paper Products & the Environment

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toilet paper stat

If you’re reading this and you’re human, you probably use toilet paper.

If you’re not human, please call me so I can book you on the show for our special segment, Green Divas Talk to the Animals.

Now back to toilet paper and other home paper products. Not necessarily a topic for party conversation, but important nonetheless.

I recently spent a week in New Jersey at the Green Diva Studio and was inspired by the toilet paper. Yes, inspired. The rolls of toilet paper didn’t have a cardboard tube. I purchase only recycled toilet paper to save trees and lighten my environmental footprint (no, not recycled as in already used, silly! I’m talking about toilet paper made from recycled paper) but had never seen toilet paper sans cardboard tube. So I became curious about the positive impact of eliminating (pardon the pun) the cardboard.

Listen to my Green Divas at Home segment then read on for more crazy stats!

Now for crazy (and some not so crazy) facts about paper home paper products & recycling…

1. If every household in the United States replaced just one roll of virgin fiber toilet paper (500 sheets) with 100 percent recycled ones, we could save 423,900 trees.

2. If every household in the United States replaced just one roll of virgin fiber paper towels (70 sheets) with 100 percent recycled ones, we could save 544,000 trees.

3. If every household in the United States replaced just one package of virgin fiber napkins (250 count) with 100 percent recycled ones, we could save 1 million trees

4. Over 17 billion toilet paper tubes are thrown away each year. That’s enough to fill the Empire State Building. Twice.

5. Every minute, Americans throw away 32,280 toilet paper tubes.

6. Almost 270,000 trees are either flushed or dumped in landfills every day… 10 percent of that total is attributable to toilet paper (but I’m not sure how much of that are the actual toilet paper cardboard rolls. Plenty, I’m sure.

7. Toilet tissue accounts for 15 percent of deforestation.8 things you can do to celebrate earth day

8. We throw away enough paper to make toilet paper for a lifetime.

9. Every day, over 3,000 tons of paper towel waste is produced in the US alone.

10. To make one ton of paper towels, 17 trees are cut down and 20,000 gallons of water are consumed.

11. Decomposing paper towels produce methane gas, a leading cause of global warming.

12. The average person uses 2,400 – 3,000 paper towels at work, in a given year.

13. One ton of recycled paper (909 kilograms) saves 3,700 pounds (1,682 kilograms) of lumber and 24,000 gallons (90,849 liters) of water; uses 64 percent less energy and 50 percent less water to produce creates 74 percent less air pollution; saves 17 trees; and creates five times more jobs than one ton of paper products from virgin wood pulp. And Pulp and paper industries are the third largest industrial emitter of pollution!

Bottom line (again, sorry for the pun). None of us are perfect. I, myself, was a paper towel addict in a former lifetime (read about my recovery). But if we can just cut back and work towards using recycled paper products, the planet will be in better shape. You never know… a tree might just hug you back!

What you can do:

1. Check out NRDC’s shopper’s guide to shop smarter for home paper products—vote with your dollars!

2. Go for recycled or reusable paper products like People Towels.


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sources for this post:
Scotts Tissue

Conscious Consumer, Conservation, Earth News, Environment, GD Ticker, Green Divas at Home, Green Divas Radio Show, Nature, Popular (100 or more views), sustainability

About the author / 

Green Diva Lynn

Lynn Hasselberger is the former Managing Editor of The Green Divas blog and was a producer of the Green Divas Radio Show. She's also a mom, writer and award-winning cat-herder who lives in Chicagoland. Sunrises, running, yoga, chocolate and comedy are just a few of her fave things.

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  1. gusreynolds@gmail.com'
    Robert Reynolds November 28, 2014 at 9:45 pm -  Reply

    In many parts of Asia, water is used instead of toilet paper, either from a bucket in basic homes to water spray from nozzles in 4 star hotels and top end villas. It is more hygienic and saves on the use of paper.

  2. holmlindamarie@gmail.com'
    Energy Girl December 6, 2014 at 11:55 am -  Reply

    Dear Lynn,
    thanks for sharing the stunning statistics. I wonder, how many trees we could save, if we switched from paper greeting cards to eCards. An average household in America will mail out 28 christmas cards made of brand-new, chemically treated paper in the next few weeks, although there are low-stress eco-friendly alternatives. I give out eCards for free (http://1-gasvergleich.de/go-green/), because I think, that trees have a more essential task, absorbing and storing CO2, than just sending our wishes. Their carbon footprint is near zero and they save a lot of time, too. Unfortunately there is no digital toilet paper yet.

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