Toilet Paper (from trees) is back in the Headlines. ‘Is Wiping our Bottoms Wiping out Forests?’

Back’side’ to the Future | Trees or Bamboo?

Toilet Paper: It’s not (as the panic buying highlighted) about shortage. It’s about sustainability.

When you wipe your bottom you may be unintentionally wiping out forests. In last week’s post we wrote about supporting renewable energy that protects our world. The focus was on Biogas as a sustainable energy source, using cattle poop mixed with food waste as the basis of our article. However, fortunately cows don’t use toilet paper/tissue as do such an increasing percentage of the human race. The reason we mention it is the world’s biggest manufacturers use a lot of trees and a lot of water to make toilet tissue. We’ve all been made aware of, and many countries are beginning to react about, the destructive use of plastics which are proven to be damaging to both land and sea. But, why would we necessarily think that toilet tissue, ‘That flush-away daily cleanser we simply pop in the toilet and it disappears,‘ would be anything for us to be remotely concerned about?

Meanwhile, the Amazon burns and Forests are being cut down at an Alarming Rate. The really important issue here (rather than the recent occurrence of toilet paper panic buying) as WHO recently pointed out, is ‘The world has lost 178 million hectares of forest since 1990.’ That’s seven times the area of the UK! With that staggering statistic in mind – add to that how much devastation can be historically, and presently, aligned to cutting down trees for toilet paper production (let alone the amount of water and chemicals used in the process.) We can clearly see that we have reached a crisis point in regards to the impact on our forests, the amazon and our planet. This leads us onto the introduction (if you’d not heard of them already) to an organisation that is kicking up about the use of trees for TP [toilet paper] and we wanted to give that some publicity and their findings an airing…

Trees or Bamboo… and gallons of water too! In this brief article we have no intention of sending you to sleep with reams of information, facts and figures, but we wanted to flag up a few things that may be of interest, or an influence on your choice of which toilet tissue and certain other products to use [e.g. kitchen towel, face tissues, and even wet wipes.] As a comparison, let’s take a quick look at the key ‘need to knows‘ regarding toilet paper/tissue and the advantages of bamboo for sustainability and similarly the environment. We’re focussing on ‘Bamboo vs Trees.’ But in regard to their importance on earth – Trees are essential for our planet and exactly why they have to be saved and protected, not used for toilet paper. Trees are vital, as the biggest plants on the planet they give us oxygen, store carbon, stabilise the soil and give life to the world’s wildlife.

‘Bamboo instead of Trees for Balanced Sustainability. The Benefits.’ Bamboo is a very fast growing, renewable and an easy-to-grow resource. It is an extremely versatile material with countless uses, including; construction, clothes, food and fuel. Bamboo shoots are used in Asian food preparations and in Japan, the antioxidant properties of bamboo skin can prevent bacterial growth and are used as natural food preservatives. Bamboo is well-known for being a Panda’s favourite meal. No fertiliser, pesticides, or herbicides are needed for them to grow, as unlike most crops bamboo requires no agricultural chemicals to thrive. Bamboo absorbs carbon dioxide and releases 35% more oxygen into the atmosphere, more than a similar community of trees. The list is endless and the more we learn about bamboo it’s obvious as to why, ‘it’s a true miracle of nature.

The Natural Resources Defense Council [NRDC] are moving and shaking regarding TP from trees, as it’s not on most peoples radar or list of priorities, but ought to be. A number of you in the know may be following Shelley Vinyard from the NRDC, a campaign expert who has written many articles on the subject of boreal forests. Shelley provides a clear and well-researched view. For further reading, and to expand on the focal points we’ve made above, here are a few sources of useful information from NRDC to check out: ‘All Your Questions About Toilet Paper Answered‘ from June 24 2020, ‘The Issue with Tissue.’ Another useful resource is Mongabay who frequently comment on deforestation with their, ‘News and Inspiration from Nature’s Frontline.’

Is Bamboo the New You? or ‘What’s the most climate-friendly tissue paper for you and our planet.’ By way of an introduction. To find out about the hottest new influencers in the world of bamboo toilet tissue and our more eco-friendly household products + where you can buy them – here’s a list of links to just a few of the many game-changers (in no particular order) to get you started. Each offering alternates to TP from Trees [availability of brand may depend on your location]:

The Cheeky PandaWho Gives a CrapBumbooCabooNo. 2ReelTushyBim Bam BooPurePlanetClubSilknSoft

We’ll leave you with a few last thoughts to ensure we protect this precious asset. ‘How can we harvest bamboo in sustainable ways to save the bamboo eco-system, to plan not only a scientific but also a holistic approach to bamboo cultivation? Also, the impact of industry on the biodiversity, local peoples lives and those animals for whom it’s their home? These questions are crucial if we are to build a sustainable future and long-term access to Bamboo, an important resource but that, in harvesting it, we don’t destroy it as a habitat, or ignore its value as continuing climate change reboots the natural order.‘ This is a subject we’re going to return to, if you have any comments or want to tell us about your experience with bamboo and or sustainable toilet paper please get in touch. We’ll be back next week…

Toilet Paper 2020. What has the impact been for brands and consumers so far.

Pandas, Koalas, Bears & Puppies | A World of Toilet Paper

The Toilet Tissue Issue. A few months ago pre-lockdown Helen Morris of Tissue World Magazine published an interview with Mark Hendriksen in ‘ConsumerSpeak.’ The worldwide tissue market is worth over £50 billion a year and TWM is the leading independent publication and online resource for the global tissue industry, publishing essential information, analysis and opinions on breaking trends in business, technology, regional developments and sustainability. At the same time as our article appeared in mid May, those in the know were writing a ‘pandemic special 3-parter’ with Helen having interviewed tissue mills and industry insiders to get their views on how the pandemic is impacting the tissue market [toilet paper being a major part of that] and their forecasts for the future. If you’re not in the Tissue Industry and heard of the much respected TWM, or you’re one of many toilet paper users, you may be interested to hear their thoughts.

Impacts on Brands, Business and Consumers. The links to the 3 articles are integrated below. We’re currently doing a short survey aimed at consumers which [although it’s still work in progress] is so far bearing out the observations made in these reports. What has been shown here is how the industry has stepped up to make a collaborative effort, which so clearly demonstrates how the they can come together if and as necessary with an ability to adapt swiftly to the new moments of the economy. The manufacturers and suppliers have also taken extra steps to keep their people and their families safe and healthy. These measures have included enhanced safety measures for office, mill and distribution centre operations. As we see it for our readers, the main (brand-consumer) bullet points taken from the articles are as follows:

  1. ‘The AfH [away from home] sector is especially hard hit as many nations shutdown social activity as restaurants, bars, flights and hotels temporary close down to adjust and safeguard citizens.
  2. An increase has been seen in demand globally for consumer products, that is; toilet paper, household towels, baby diapers, feminine care, and incontinence care products.
  3. Interestingly but not surprisingly, in view of stock shortages and concerns over store visits, direct-to-consumer (DTC) tissue brands operating on subscription basis also see a significant increase in demand and the surge in the number of subscribers. It is unlikely that these brands will be able to retain all of their newly acquired customers as impact of pandemic wanes. However, in regard to e.commerce and DTC, according to some traditionally retail only suppliers, ‘They believe that some of the e-commerce increase will be permanent even after the end of the pandemic.’ [TWM Analysis Part 1]

Winds of Change. It’s going to be interesting to see how many brands retain their customers, how many are ‘unfaithful’ and switch brand and who buys cheaper or non specific brands, and last but not least, though it seems more so in the US and the UK for example, who switches to bidets and the wash vs wipe. All this apart from the greater public awareness of how toilet paper is produced and the amounts of trees & water needed to make it, plus the carbon footprint with delivery. Start-ups, brand ethics, sustainability, flushing and the 3Ps, use of bamboo vs trees, giving back to help resolve world sanitation problems, plus bidets and budgets are all increasingly becoming consumer considerations.

Further Analysis. Next up in TWM’s chat with industry insiders, again, some fascinating nuggets of info and observations, primarily the consequences on daily life, freedom or movement, employment, operations and liquidity of companies, and the global economy as a whole. The manufacturing of TP and tissue was impacted when the pandemic started, then further disrupted by the panic buying, both of which hit the supply chain. ‘Orders for toilet paper and paper towels increased as consumer/household demand surged, while demand for products at airports, hotels, institutional spaces and other public venues softened.’ [TWM Analysis Part 2]

The New Normal? Finally, the 3rd article discussed the temporary uptick in retail, against the troubles in the ‘away from home’ [AfH] sector. Although titled as ‘USA Tissue’ the general findings apply to a number of countries. This then comes full circle, as the points made in Article 1 begin to repeat for both consumer and business activities/public services. The take-aways from this for us were:

  1. ‘It’s important to consider that the extent of economic fall out and high rates of unemployment will place an additional strain on many household budgets, with consumers rationalising further. Potentially diminishing gains for categories like paper towels and facial tissue, with toilet paper serving as a substitute in view of depressed incomes.’
  2. ‘However, the spike in demand is not necessarily all good news for the key brands. Aside from being temporary, the uptake in demand sees shoppers choosing first and foremost cheaper private label as well as stocking large bulk lower cost packages at retailers like Costco as well as discounters.’
  3. ‘With respect to consumer tissue and bathroom routines, in the past couple of years we have been watching the rising demand for bidets in the US.’ Which we’ve also observed but as mentioned, the US seemingly more so than other countries with TUSHY in particular.
  4. The major manufacturers are succeeding and TP consumption looks on track to keep growing. ‘However, direct-to-consumer (DTC) tissue brands operating on a subscription basis are proving to be agile when it comes to inventory management, and they engage with customers on an ongoing basis, also via popular social media channels, so are building longer-term customer retention and acquisition strategies.’ A thought for the bigger players to ponder as pandas join the bears, koalas and puppies in an effort to grab your bottom?

Just to wrap up, our weekly round up of the news and articles on loos & no. 2s…

  1. More news on harnessing the power of poop from, ‘Successful Farming‘, written by Jessica Wesson.
  2. The Proof is in the Poop. ‘How your poop is being used in the fight against COVID-19‘ from the San Diego Union Tribune, as more and more interest grows in epidemiology + wastewater. From CNN on the same subject, check out this video, ‘How poop could help warn of the next coronavirus outbreak.’ Finally, for now, yet another article from The South China Morning Post, ‘Singapore is checking waste water with people’s poo for coronavirus‘ by Dewey Sim.
  3. An article from Anthropocene in their weekly science despatch, ‘What to do about greenhouse gases from poo‘ by Sarah DeWeerdt.
  4. Sit vs Squat. Lastly, about one of our regular topics. An article by Michael Marshall in NewScientist recently reported, “Certainly, sitting upright to void isn’t natural. For most of our species’ history, people squatted, bending their knees and sticking out their bottoms. About two-thirds of people still do this. Of course, “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean “better.” However, medical professionals are starting to implicate conventional toilet use in many abdominal disorders including constipation, bloating and possibly haemorrhoids. And a recent review of sitting upright to defecate even concluded that it was time to “put this unfortunate experiment to an end”.

Do Get in Touch. We’re always happy to hear from readers with any comments or interesting articles so do get in touch. Until next week…

Comment on our article 24th April 2020, from marine biologist Professor Richard Thompson OBE

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote a post about the 3Ps in ‘Turn your toilet paper into a wet wipe + other news & views on loos & no. 2s‘ and potential ways to help the environment by not putting anything other than Poop, Pee and Paper (toilet paper) in the loo… We asked one of the world’s leading experts, Professor Richard Thompson, for his opinion and he kindly responded having said ‘the article made good sense.’ His comments can be seen below:

“The bottom line is we all need to work toward consuming less stuff. It is especially important to  minimise any single use items where the benefit is very transitory  –  but the persistence as waste is long-lived. That’s the issue with wipes. The move toward a fine to flush logo might make sense. However, its potentially confusing for consumers if some wipes are OK to flush and others not. Perhaps the simplest message is  the 3Ps –  only flush pee, poo and paper. The idea of a spray to modify conventional paper is an interesting one and  may have merit.  I hope the containers are fully compatible with  a circular economy.

To me the key thing in all of this is the need for  product designers to fully consider end of life scenarios for their products right from the design stage; and where necessary have necessary testing done  to evaluate those outcomes before a product goes to market. Many of the current challenges relating to plastics could be avoided with  a little more thought at the design stage.Professor Richard Thompson OBE FRS

Professor Thompson is Director of the Marine Institute School of Biological and Marine Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering) and leads the International Marine Litter Research Unit. Professor Thompson coined the termmicroplasticsin 2004. With thanks for his remarks and advice.

Listen to this fascinating and enlightening podcast with Professor Thompson on BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Life Scientific [listen now or download.] ‘How did you first get interested in the problem of plastic pollution in the sea?’ Richard Thompson tells Jim Al-Khalili how he alerted the world to the micro-plastics in the ocean and the harm they might cause to marine life.

When the rest of the world was waking up to the harm caused to marine life by larger plastic items, such as plastic bags, Professor Richard Thompson searched for tiny fragments of plastic, some no bigger than a human hair; and found them in oceans and on beaches all over the world. He has spent decades studying the harm these micro-plastics might cause to marine life and is concerned. His work on plastics in cosmetics led to a UK ban on micro-beads in shower gels and exfoliating scrubs.

Latest headline ‘Stick to the 3Ps when flushing’…Bidets, and other considerations from ‘The Daily Poo!’ on loos & no. 2s.

The incredible NEOREST® NX2 Dual Flush Toilet from TotoUSA [copyright TotoUSA] see article below

The 3Ps and ‘Proof before Panic!’

If you’ve not read this anywhere or, understandably perhaps not realised… ‘The use of tissues, wipes and kitchen roll is ‘clogging up the sewers!‘ Tissues, wipes and paper towels all contain plastic in their weave making them much stronger than toilet paper and therefore harder to break down in sewerage pipes. It’s only the 3Ps that should be flushed: pee, poop and paper [toilet paper] 4Ps if we include the word, ‘Please!’ We mentioned it last week but want to repeat the message. It’s an issue, even in ‘normal times.’ Plumbers who may be getting lots of work sorting out peoples pipes because of it, are getting fed up too, and so are the oceans and sea-life that suffer! The other please is, ‘Those of you who are still panicking about toilet paper… please stop it at once!’ We mentioned one calculator last week, here’s another that helps you see just how much toilet paper you need and use: https://thepooptool.com

There are more pressing issues to be dealt with, so put down those unnecessary packets of toilet paper…. and step away from the shelves – please! That said, your staying calm would really help the supply chain and logistics companies, and their amazing people, to keep doing their good work during these times, i.e. keep you supplied! Thank you to them and everyone else who is working on our behalf to get us safely through the days ahead, we love all he clapping for them that’s been going on worldwide.

Here’s the tail (tale) that could soon wag the dog, the dog being the toilet paper manufacturers and the tail being bidets.

Some while back we wrote about the option to use a ‘bidet’, bum-gun or an ‘attachable shower wash’ instead of the total wipe option. What started in France was the bidet, [Bidet: Mid 17th century (in the sense of straddling a ‘pony’) from the French bider ‘to trot’, of unknown origin.] A separate low basin for sitting and washing your bum. In fact other regions had been using small vessels of water called lotas or tabo for cleansing centuries before bidets appeared on the scene. Interestingly, (for those reeling in disgust or disbelief) it’s a very popular method across Europe, in the Arab world, and in Japan where their toilet technology is extraordinary. With bidets in approx. 80% of Japan’s homes that’s barely surprising.

Is this just a ‘flush in the pan?’

However, since Covid-19 and the toilet paper purchasing stampede/panic, bidets have begun a resurgence as ‘traditional wipers’ consider all the options and in doing so begin to see the benefits of owning one. Importantly, the design developments have meant you don’t need a separate ‘basin’ either, just an attachment to your current toilet system. Though we should point out that you can get an ‘all singing and dancing toilet’ in the first place, in other words a toilet/bidet and all sorts of other luxuries built in. Think; wash, dry, music, gadgets and even medical body checks all included. To get you started, look at Business Insider‘s ‘Best Bidet Toilet Seats‘ and then look at what’s hot in Japan…

‘The winds of change are blowing!’ [pun intended :)] But, seriously this has become a real disruptor and nothing indicates that more that the uptake by Americans, as the USA is the world’s largest consumer of toilet paper [36 billion rolls a year according to Statista.] Yep, stop and take that in for a moment… think trees, carbon footprint, water usage (it takes a huge amount of water to produce toilet paper btw!) According to The Scientific American, ‘It takes about 473,587,500,000 gallons of water to produce all that toilet for Americans and 253,000 tons of chlorine to bleach it. To break this statistic down further, it takes up to 37 gallons of water to make a single roll of toilet paper!’

Now think about a bidet style wash by comparison. Of course, as with so many cultures that wipe, they grew up with it and changing public perception takes either a long time, or a world-changing moment to break it. We just have one right now!

The companies who produce and sell ‘bidets’ are getting lots of views and whereas a major player like GEBERIT offers some super cool and funky remote control bidets (see the video) the likes of TUSHY make it accessible to (practically) all. That in turn is educating consumers and their previous behaviour. Add to that the realisation that washing yourself with a bidet can help with cleanliness, may lead to fewer instances of rashes, hemorrhoids, urinary infections, can also be a better option for people with IBS and other medical issues. Then allay other fears, i.e. ‘If you’re worried about using toilet water to clean your intimate parts, then you shouldn’t be. It’s tap water, just like the water you’re already using when you take a bath or shower.

The question of ‘tail wagging dog‘ as posed above is becoming more probable. To give you an idea of the current movement [it just goes with the subject;)] towards bidets take a look at TUSHY who we mentioned above. An American company founded back in 2014 who offer an affordable, easy fit bidet for your bathroom, and guess what, as the New York Post reported just last week ‘Sales have been up about [tenfold], which is pretty crazy,’ Jason Ojalvo, CEO. TUSHY also claim their device reduces a person’s use of toilet paper by 80%. That’s got to be an affordable alternative to toilet paper, that may be worth a second thought and… will pay for itself in no time at all.

TUSHY bidet on Instagram

If you have any questions about the whole bidet business, ie How to use it, how to dry off afterwards, hygiene, health, how happy your butt’ll be etc. head to the TUSHYAll your Questions Answered‘ page – it’s enlightening!

I feel we’ve done a lot to get to the bottom of this in today’s post [sorry!] The main thing and our point is, there’s been a greater awareness of bidets than ever before, the USA was the least likely to adopt them and yet it’s begun to happen. Will this be a flash in the pan? We think not. With the other topics we love to keep discussing, like the companies that are changing the way toilet paper is produced, sold and marketed e.g. Who Gives a Crap, Cheeky Panda and such like as well as other of the ever familiar names popping up in bathrooms everywhere, PooPourri to name but one – yep, times they are a changing!

In fact John Branden writing for Forbes in an article about, ‘What Coronavirus Trending Topics Say About Our Current Predicament‘ commented, ‘According to several apps I’ve been using to track trending topics on social media and online, what we care about is bamboo toilet paper, Instacart, and (very curiously) Drizly. Also — UHT milk. I had to look that one up. (It lasts much longer. Go buy some.)

It’s not just the toilet paper manufacturers that are the only ones who are being disrupted, America could also be on the way to losing the toilet race! Bidets are already out there in vast numbers, it’s not like you have to create a product (like the i-phone was for example) it’s just education, desperation or realisation. On a final note, why not look at all that’s included in the $17,000 NEOREST by Toto (Japan) and imagine that in your bathroom. Now that’s a throne fit for a King or Queen!!

Let us know your thoughts… chat@thedailypoo.co.uk We’ll be back next Friday!