How much tissue (paper) does an American household use in a day?

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Image of a Toilet with nozzle

Tissue paper is not just a piece of paper. In fact it has become an essential part of our day to day living. Soon a time may come when we it may become an indispensable part of our lives. An individual in an American household uses about 50 lbs of tissue paper per year. The quantity has nearly doubled from what was used per individual about two decades ago. That’s an amazingly large usage of tissue be it the paper towels or toilet paper.

Tissue products which include toilet paper, facial tissues, napkins, wipes, paper towels and hygiene products account for over 7 million tons produced in the U.S. mills in 2003. Manufacturing of tissue products fetch huge profits for the American market. In fact the tissue products sold as retail products for the consumers is responsible for two-thirds of the market with industrial and commercial products accounting for one-third of the tissue business.

Are we flushing tissue or the forests?

We use the toilet paper and flush them away on regular basis but what we are actually doing is flushing away our forests. In fact our choice to use tissue paper as part of our personal hygiene has affected the habitat of wildlife. Surprising as it may sound but the increasing human population and consumption has resulted in that many trees being cut and the resultant habitat loss for our wildlife. As per the records of WWF, 10% of the 270,000 trees cut every day are used in the manufacturing of toilet paper. It doesn’t come as a surprise that an average American household uses more tissue paper than the rest anywhere in the world. The North American usage of tissue paper was estimated in 2005 to be 24 kg per capita which is six times higher than the global average of 3.9 kg consumption per capita.


Can you think of some solutions for using less paper?

A feasible solution would be to buy tissue made from recycled paper. Manufacturers who take care of this could end up saving a great number of forest habitats. In fact any tissue packet having the words “Post- Consumer Recycled” would mean that the product has been made from recycled paper. Go for it. At least you have a say in what you buy and can do a bit to save the forests. While  tissue products from Green Forest Manufacturers are largely made from recycled paper, it is best to avoid brands such as Viva, Bounty, Puffs, Kleenex, Cottonelle and charmin as per the recommendations of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Using toilets with a health faucet, sprayer or hose as used in Asian countries completely eliminate the use of tissue paper. Using water in this way would also be a great boon to preserve the ecology as more than 37 gallons of water is used to produce a single role of toilet paper.

A wise option would be to use reusable products such as dish cloths, sponges and so on instead of tissue paper. By doing so you would be saving precious resources like energy and water which are required in large volumes for manufacturing these products. It would be a little step to make a positive impact on the environment. Though one could reduce the use of tissue paper, practically speaking the average American household would continue buying tissue products.



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