Friday, June 22, 2007

Green Paper Towels

I’m gearing up to have a heart to heart five minute chat with about a hundred and fifty or so individuals in the hopes of convincing them to give Shirts of Bamboo’s 100% bamboo compressed towelettes a try. These handy little gems start out the size of a poker chip and pack an environmental wallop the size of Canada’s Boreal Forest, which consists of ¼ of the world’s remaining ancient forests. At least today, it contains one quarter of the remaining old growth trees, but if Kimberly Clark, the parent company of Kleenex and paper towels has its way, the clear cutting will decimate that forest in a few years.

What I’ve discovered about toilet paper and paper towels has me scared. According to the Green Report of March 2004:

· 40% of trash in US landfills consist of paper products

· 30% of timber consumed in the US is used to make paper products

· Paper use is expected to increase by approximately 46% by the year 2040

One more way for me to be a bit greener – paper towels. Currently, I use Shirts of Bamboo’s compressed 100% bamboo towelettes whenever plausible, that is to say, most of the time. I simply open the package, add water, unroll, and get real busy. Busy doing what, you ask?

  • Polishing crystal
  • Dusting
  • Cleaning glass
  • Drying up spills
  • Wiping fingerprint smudges off my laptop
  • Polishing furniture
  • Washing dishes
  • Keeping sweat out of my eyes while mowing the lawn
  • Wrapping a wet towelette around my neck while mowing the lawn to lower my core temperature about 30 degrees in ten seconds
  • Keeping the roots of soon to be transplanted plants moist while I find the potting soil and a suitable pot.
  • Using in lieu of paper tissue

When the rinsed and dried towelettes resemble the stuff from the lint trap in my dryer, I compost them, or use them in the bottom of potted plants to cover that opening where the potting soil tends to fall out.

I use Seventh Generation paper towels on those rare occasions when I have to wipe out something greasy that I don’t want to go down the drain. I thought I’d take a look around at the paper towel industry as a whole to see if there were more I could do, more I could learn, more I could pass on to others who want to be a tiny bit greener every day.

While researching for my upcoming talk, I found the Green Report and its article about toilet paper and paper towels. I scanned the list of recommended paper towels. There, to my surprise, I found Kimberly Clark’s Scott products were 100% recycled and 70% bleach free. Another Kimberly Clark Scott paper towel was labeled 70% postconsumer, 30% elemental chlorine free.

The chlorine used in bleaching all paper products is a huge concern, since chlorine bleaching releases dioxins and other toxins into the environment, harming every level of the food chain.

I was so pleased to see Kimberly Clark doing their part! That bubble was soon popped when I discovered an article in the Vanguard, a student run newspaper since 1946. Greenpeace alleges that Kimberly Clark is clearcutting Canada’s Boreal Forest to make Kleenex and other KC products. So, it would seem, once again, my theory that it all boils down to money holds true. Kimberly Clark wants people like me to fall for their “environmentally responsible” posture by selling me what I demand, 100% postconsumer waste – bleach free paper towels. But behind the smoke and mirrors, they continue to decimate forests, habitat, and contribute mightily to climate change so that selfish, thoughtless, and careless individuals can blow their delicate, plastic surgery enhanced noses into lily white Kleenex.

No comments: