Environmentalism...in the loo.
Reduce your community's environmental footprint: Encourage your facilities team at your school, office, or gym to purchase third-party certified bathroom tissue.
By Jake Anderson, Green Seal Summer 2013 Intern
There’s that one product we all feel a bit uncomfortable talking about. But of course, we all use it.
What if I told you we could use the same amount of it and greatly reduce our impact on the environment? That might make it a little bit easier to talk about, right?
Toilet Paper (TP): First, let me flush out the general usage info for you. In a year, Americans consume 36.5 billion rolls* of TP and in one day we use 100 million rolls.* These numbers might sound unbelievable, but when an average American uses 57 sheets per day* it’s no wonder how we consume TP in such large quantities.
Using the same amount of toilet paper while feeling good about reducing your impact on the planet all relates to what brand you buy. Green Seal’s standard, GS-1 – Sanitary Paper Products, places water efficiency requirements on all certified sanitary paper products and restricts the use of chlorine during manufacturing. It’s extremely important to understand how much better environmentally sustainable TP is for Mother Earth. By using Green Seal-certified sanitary paper, 8.2 gallons of water per roll is saved** during the manufacturing process when compared conventional products. This number may seem small since its equal to the amount of water used in the shower for a whopping four minutes with a low flow showerhead. However, when compared to the amount of water that is used to manufacture a “regular” TP roll, there is a 63% savings in water per roll** by going with a Green Seal-certified product.
Still not impressed? Well, Green Seal requires all products certified under GS-1 to be processed chlorine free (PCF), which prohibits the use of chlorine during manufacturing. Every year, an average of 253,000 tons of chlorine* is used to make standard TP, which can cause adverse human health effects and environmental harm. By using one roll of Green Seal certified sanitary paper instead of the standard brand, you can prevent over 3 ounces of chlorine from being used.
Water and energy saving statistics per roll are interesting, but I decided to see what this all meant for an average family of four over the span of one month. To begin, it is important to know that an average person uses a little over 3 rolls per month,* meaning a family of four would use over 13 rolls per month. This family can save a total of 112 gallons of water** every month if they were to switch from standard TP to a Green Seal-certified brand. This is equivalent to almost 6 “at-home” car washes, 2 loads of clothes in the washing machine, and 10 loads of dishes in the dishwasher. But wait, there’s more! In one month, a family could save more water than what is used in 2 full days of toilet flushing just by switching their toilet paper brand.
Who would have ever known what a big difference a switch in our bathroom tissue could do for the environment and our impact on natural resources. Looking at how much can be saved by a quick switch has hopefully made you want to wipe out the generic brand from your life and say “in with the green!” I will definitely have my eye out for the “Green Seal” the next time nature calls.***
* “Standard” toilet paper statistics including average annual water, chlorine, and consumption data were obtained from the article “Wipe or Wash? Do Bidets Save Forest and Water Resources?” featured in Scientific American
and The Bathroom Companion: A Collection of Facts about the Most-Used Room in the House
by James Buckley Jr.
**Comparisons made with calculations based on specific water use criteria for maximum fresh water use per ton of product found in Green Seal’s Standard GS-1 for Sanitary Paper Products.
*** Most Green Seal-certified TP is available for institutional sale (not on the retail market). Encourage your office building, gym, or school to purpose Green Seal-certified TP to reduce your community's environmental impact.