Quality vs. Green

The Environmental Movement has opened a new front in their war for America’s soul: your bathroom. A Washington Post article today describes the battle that organizations such as Greenpeace are fighting against the United States’ largest toilet paper manufacturers.

There are two main types of toilet paper: “soft” paper taken straight from trees and “recycled” paper derived from recycled newspapers, magazines, etc. The longer wood fibers in the virgin wood create the soft texture of the soft paper that is not possible with the shorter wood fibers in the recycled paper. In the process of making the soft paper, trees are felled and directly processed as toilet paper. This wanton destruction of trees, of course, is an issue for Greenpeace.

However, a reality check may be in order. Last year, the toilet paper and facial tissue industry made up 5% of the US forest-products industry. In the “away from home” market (public restaurants, gas stations, etc.), recycled paper comprised 75% of the market. In the “at-home” market, soft paper made up 95% of the market.

So, there is a significant demand for the soft paper. This is also a fairly lucrative industry. Last year Quilted Northern made $144 million off its Ultra Plush product alone. However, the Environmentalists would prefer to restrict your freedom and make the choice about what kind of toilet paper you buy for you. They are currently lobbying the industry to move completely over to recycled paper, cheating you the consumer out of your freedom to choose. Of course, all of this is being done in the name of “saving the environment.” We need to preserve these valuable “carbon scrubbers.” In the words of Obama, the toilet paper industry is contributing to the onset of an “irreversible catastrophe” that will result from the destruction of the world’s forest, an increase in pollution, fire and brimstone, etc.

What’s interesting is recent data from a study by the University of Helsinki that suggests that trees may in fact be contributing to air pollution. A reaction between the gases emitted from trees, nitrogen oxide, and sunlight creates lower-level ozone, a commonly recognized pollutant. This study may rehabilitate Ronald Reagan’s famous quote, “Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do.”

So then, it appears that Greenpeace’s attempt to further restrict the market and control your life is in fact, based on faulty science. The science completely repudiates their main claim to directing your life. The Free Market and Science have spoken. There is a great demand for soft toilet paper, whose manufacture, at best, has a debatable impact on the environment. I, for one, am not willing to sacrifice my freedom to choose just to satisfy the whims of Greenpeace and its pseudo-science.

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