Are You Really Saving Trees by Switching Over to Recycled Paper? By Adam Kline

It’s Not Easy Being Green By John Harbaugh
December 7, 2015

Good question.

First, what is the definition of recycled paper?

Toilet tissue and facial tissue are typically made from rice hull or sugarcane pulp, which is already recycled, but by definition, it is not “post consumer waste.”

Some people have been pushing for “sustainable recycle,” which means a plentiful supply of whatever is being recycled. Old newspaper can be used to make into toilet tissue, but most newspaper in the U.S. cannot be used because the ink is too toxic for post consumer waste. Canadian newspapers can– they have soy based ink.

Recycled from China? Good luck! Poisoned dog food, lead in toys, your guess is as good as mine.

So to answer the question, are you saving trees? Maybe.

Trees are only a small portion of the equation. Recycled paper takes more energy and environmentally damaging chemicals. Most of the virgin pulp is still recycled from other activities such as board manufacturing leftovers or agricultural by products. Switching to post consumer waste is almost a push. Recycled products are usually inferior to virgin. You will use more of it to dry your hands or wipe your tush.

Reality–spend more money, use more product, contaminate yourself (Chinese products), or contaminate the environment.

So the next time you hear, “sustainable recycled resource,” realize it comes at a cost.

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