This week’s eco product that works is recycled tissue. I suspect I am preaching to the converted, but I just wanted to take a moment to extol the virtues of recycled toilet tissue (to sit beside your dual flush toilet…) and facial tissues.
At the risk offending readers, I also feel a need to express my incredulity at those who feel that their backsides are so sensitive that only virgin wood pulp is good enough.
Let me reassure you: recycled toilet tissue has come a very long way. In no way does it resemble the hard – almost impermeable? – sheets that we used to be faced with in institutional settings when I was a kid (was that just in the UK?).
There are several recycled choices out there and they are all absolutely fine, as far as I can see. They are also well-priced and readily available.
I tend to buy Cascades toilet tissue, because I can get it in bulk at Costco and because it is made not so far away in Quebec (in Candiac and Kingsey Falls). With a family of 6 we get through quite a bit, though I do try to persuade the kids to be modest in their use (when I was a kid, we actually used to have `who can use the least toilet paper’ contests in our household: we each had a roll and would see how long it lasted…really).
Cascades has an interesting website and eco fact/activity site with a calculator of how many trees/how much water/energy, etc. is saved each year by using recycled toilet tissue. So, say my family uses two rolls per week, over a period of 10 years we will save 2 whole trees and nearly 7,000 litres of water. And if every Canadian were to use just one roll of 100% recycled toilet paper (instead of virgin pulp paper) we would save over 60,000 trees (that’s a decent carbon sink).
As always, there are questions as to what percentage recycled content products contain. Cascades has two `grades’ of recycled toilet tissue. i am soft is made of 100% recycled content (mostly post-consumer fibre, with some post-industrial mixed in) while ultra soft is not ultra enviro as it claims only `majority recycled’ content. I guess this is `transition’ toilet paper for those who have lived a lifetime with super-fluffy products. I have not tried the premium product so cannot say how much softer it really is.
Cascades products are bright white but are bleached with sodium hydrosulphite, a non-chlorine composite that is much less damaging to the environment. The company enjoys a `processed chlorine free’ certification.
However, if you do not frequent Costco, you may not find Cascades products (though several supermarket chains do carry them). But store-brands (e.g. President’s Choice) and other types (such as Cashmere EnviroCare) are just as good. Just check the recycled content. If you prefer to do that before you head to the store, Greenpeace has helpfully produced a comprehensive information sheet on forest-friendly tissue products in Canada (as of March 2010).
I have also been using – and sending to school – recycled facial tissue for a while now. Actually, I myself hate tissues and usually carry an old-fashioned handkerchief, but the kids seem to be hooked on disposables (which can at least be composted), despite my best efforts.
Finding recycled tissues has been a bit of a challenge. The Cascades brand (which is well-priced) is not widely available and the Seventh Generation product is both more expensive and made in the US (and also not on every shelf).
So imagine my joy, earlier this year, when I spotted someone walking out of my local Metro store clutching a box of eco tissues. The tissues, from Metro’s in-house Selection range, have 100% recycled content (no breakdown of fibre source is given), are chlorine-free and I think they are Canadian made. They are priced at a modest $1.29 for a box of 125 tissues (or 6 boxes for $5.79) and the design is even quite attractive.
The only downside is that they are possibly – according to my unscientific test – somewhat less soft than the other recycled brands I have in front of me. But they will do the job just fine, unless you have a really runny and sore nose, in which case I recommend a cotton hanky anyway!