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You and your family should stop using paper towels immediately. Here's how.

Ian CrosslandMay 2, 2016, 4:47:15 PM

Forests and trees are two different things.  Of course, the paper industry considers paper a renewable resource because they can plant new trees (and they do), but what they're missing is the value of decades-old forests.

The ecosystems provided by old forest is countless.  The number of animals and plants that make their homes amidst the lush growth of forest are likely uncountable and planting new trees does not provide this.

Conserveatree points out that, “counting trees individually misses much of their value. “Saving forests” should be the resource focus. Trees are not a “crop” in the normal sense of the word. They are not planted on agricultural farmland. Before a tree farm is planted, forests have to fall. While some trees are grown on plantations for the paper industry, particularly in the southern United States, these replanted trees do not make a true forest. They are usually managed intensively, with heavy use of petrochemical inputs such as pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.”


Beyond ruining forests, our friends at Inhabitots have indicated some major problems the paper industry has placed in our lap:

  • The US Fish & Wildlife Service notes that industrial paper plantations is the leading cause of freshwater wetland loss.
  • Almost all paper towels are manufactured with chlorine, a known toxin which also releases extremely carcinogenic dioxins into the environment. In fact, in 1985, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) labeled dioxin “the most potent carcinogen ever tested in laboratory animals.”
  • According to various reports, the paper industry is highly responsible for the release of persistent toxic pollutants into the environment, including the above mentioned chlorine but also mercury, lead and phosphorus.
  • The paper industry is the biggest industrial water user of all time, using up around 11% of all freshwater in industrial nations.
  • Paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste plus a full third of municipal landfill waste, and in turn, municipal landfills account for one third of human-related methane emissions.
  • Most commercial inks used for paper towel designs are made with petroleum, a non-renewable resource.

Ultimately, regardless of the methods and drawbacks, using trees for paper is becoming highly unsustainable.   As Environmental Paper Network points out, “global paper consumption is currently running at more than 350 million tons per year and fast approaching an unsustainable one million tons per day.”

 Buy a bunch of cheap hand towels. Wash them. It isn't rocket science. :)