Wasting Waste

So I’m thinking about toilet paper.  Just two years ago it was a scarce commodity.  If you could find a four-pack you were blessed.  Supply-chains aren’t the boon that economists tell us they are.  Well, now it seems the shelves are well-stocked.  We’re ready for the next major crisis.  So why are my thoughts in the gutter again?  It started with Earth Day.  I was on a website that was advertising for environmentally friendly products.  We try to live as lightly as we can—we compost, we have ordered a heat-pump dryer, we don’t eat meat—but toilet paper is a big waste.  Besides, the name “Who Gives a Crap?” is eye-catching.  Recycled toilet paper, a little less expensive than bamboo, makes sense.

You see, we’ve used Scott for years.  This started back when we lived at Nashotah House and didn’t have to pay rent or utilities.  We used to buy it recycled back in Wisconsin.  Somehow that’d translated in my head to believing that all Scott is recycled, even though they no longer advertise it.  No, I was wrong.  And it’s not just Scott.  Every day 27,000 trees are cut down to make toilet paper.  That’s a lot of trees.  To break a chain it’s best to concentrate on one link.  Recycled toilet paper seems a no-brainer.  I thought we were already doing that.  Hopefully there’s no supply chain breakdowns when another crisis rolls around.  One of the problems with living in a culture disposed to dispose of things is that we end up in a mess like we’ve got now.

The thing about saving the planet is taking small steps.  Our capitalist system works against environmentalism because the former is based on consumption.  And consumption is handled on a matter of scale—the more you can sell the cheaper the unit cost.  Environmentally friendly lifestyles cost a bit more than other lifestyles.  I’ve always looked at this as a moral issue.  We’re not really high-earning people but we can afford a bit extra to try to save the world’s resources.  We can’t quite afford bamboo toilet paper just yet, but we can work our way in that direction.  Saving the planet is the long game.  Up until the 1960s we blithely lived as if we could go on forever wasting and throwing away.  Now we know there are islands made of plastic in the Pacific and our ice caps are melting.  If you decide you’d like to take the plunge—toilet paper gets thrown away, by definition—here’s a link for a discount on your first order.  Let’s let the trees grow.

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