Toilet Paper: Recycling's Final Frontier

Green living has never been so intimate. The Washington Post reports that, for Americans, one of the most extraneously wasteful consumer products—ultra plush multi-ply toilet paper—is also one of the hardest to give up. While environmentally enlightened Europeans are content to wipe with recycled paper products, Americans find themselves unable to give up the soft caress of freshly harvested virgin paper. Together with facial tissue, toilet paper accounts for 5 percent of America’s forest-products industry—which environmentalists say is too much. “It’s like the Hummer product for the paper industry,” said one scientist. “We don’t need old-growth forests… to wipe our behinds.” Resistant to recycling as Big T.P. may be, some small manufacturers are tiptoeing into the recycled toilet paper niche: “At what price softness?” asked one Marcal executive. “Strength of toilet paper is more important,” anyway.