Toilet paper is a tissue paper product used to wipe the anus, perineum, and external genitalia after defecation. Its main purpose is to act as a barrier against bacteria and germs, preventing them from transferring to the hands. Toilet paper also serves as a barrier between the hands and the environment. Listed below are some of the reasons why toilet paper is so important. And what can you do if you’re concerned about its use?
Made from softwood and hardwood trees
Today’s toilet paper comes in a wide range of colors and textures and may be scented or embossed. To increase sales and improve efficiency, manufacturers have enlarged the number of sheets available on a roll. Toilet paper is made from virgin paper made from a blend of softwood and hardwood trees. Softwood trees have long fibers, which make toilet paper strong. Hardwood trees are more porous, with short fibers, making them softer. The paper is generally made from 70% hardwood and 30% softwood.
The production of toilet paper from old growth trees is particularly harmful. The processing of these trees produces formaldehyde, a substance that has been linked to respiratory problems and cancer. They also emit sulfur dioxide, a gas that contributes to acid rain and smog. Further, toilet paper made from softwood and hardwood trees is often recycled. But how does the manufacturing process make it possible to recycle paper?
Most toilet paper is made from virgin wood pulp. While many manufacturers use a single tree species, the majority is made from a blend of softwood and hardwood trees. In most cases, this method involves cutting down a forest. Unlike some plastics, toilet paper is made from 70% hardwood and 30% softwood. However, some manufacturers also use cotton in their products. A few other companies, such as Cottonelle, include cotton in their products.
The process of making toilet paper from hardwood and softwood trees is not completely clean. First, trees are harvested and a pulp is created. This pulp is created by removing the bark from the trees. Afterwards, the pulp is cooked, washed and bleached. Chlorine-based bleach was used to make toilet paper, but it was dangerous to local waterways. The process has now been modified to use elemental chlorine-free bleach.
After the pulp is made, it is processed in different factories. Industrial Shredders are created to process the used paper and recycle it. Then, it is bleached, embossed, scented, perforated, and colored. These processes make toilet paper cheaper and less white. These processes are all required to make toilet paper. If you’re worried about the environment, you can also buy toilet paper made from recycled materials.
Made from pressure-cooked wood chips
Wood pulp is a natural product that can be used to produce toilet paper. The process begins with the collection of suitable trees and stripping off the bark. The wood is then chipped into small pieces and put through a pressure-cooking process. This reduces the wood’s lignin and cellulose content to a uniformly thick pulp. After cooking, the pulp is bleached to remove its color. The resulting toilet paper is highly absorbent and is a great alternative to conventional toilet paper.
To make toilet paper from pressure-cooked wood chips, virgin wood must be harvested, broken into small chips, and mixed with chemicals and water. The pulp is then co-pulped and evaluated for strength properties and color. The results of these trials are presented in Table 8. In the co-pulping process, newsprint had a lower reject rate and kappa value than pulp made from 100% hardwood. However, it had lower tear strength than the pure hardwood cook.
Bamboo toilet paper is another alternative. Bamboo is an abundant resource and releases oxygen into the air, reducing global warming. Bamboo toilet paper also requires less land than traditional paper. Bamboo toilet paper brands use less land than other types of paper and reduce their impact on the environment. They avoid the use of harsh chemicals that harm the environment. For this reason, bamboo toilet paper is an excellent option. It does not require the use of chlorine and is environmentally friendly.
Recycled toilet paper is becoming increasingly popular in North America. More than two percent of the world’s Northern Softwood Kraft pulp is produced in British Columbia. It is also the largest market pulp producing region in North America. But the quality and durability of this paper varies greatly. Despite these disadvantages, it is still a viable choice if the environmental concerns outweigh the benefits. This paper is often made of long, coarse fibers and does not smell as good as traditional paper.
Biopulping, also known as biomechanical pulping, is an alternative to the chemical process of pulping. It has shown potential in large-scale USA studies and is currently being commercialized. Biopulping can improve the penetration of chemicals into wood chips and shorten the cooking time. By inducing fungi in the pulping process, lignin is degraded during several weeks, reducing the energy required for its production.
Contains harmful chemicals
If you’ve ever wondered, “Is my toilet paper made with toxic chemicals?” you are not alone. This common paper product contains chemicals that can harm your body, including bisphenols, endocrine disruptors, and undeclared fragrance chemicals. Studies have linked these chemicals to reproductive system issues, cancer, and even early puberty. Bisphenols are particularly dangerous because they can penetrate your skin and enter your bloodstream.
Toxic chemicals used in the production of toilet paper are highly prevalent in our environment, including chlorine. Although this is an unavoidable step in the manufacturing process, it doesn’t mean that these chemicals aren’t present. Several recent studies have revealed that the chemicals found in toilet paper can get into your body through your skin, where they can cause adverse health effects. One study even concluded that toilet paper might be the source of chronic irritation of the vulva. Further, formaldehyde is sometimes used to make toilet paper stronger, which is an added concern.
Another study published in Environmental Science and Technology found that PFAS, formaldehyde, and fluorine were present in toilet paper. Besides these chemicals, the toilet paper also contains petroleum dyes and bleaching agents that irritate body parts. Petroleum dyes and bleaching have been shown to cause irritations to the skin, including the vulva of women. Other ingredients found in toilet paper include undisclosed fragrances and polyethylene glycol.
Among the most common phthalates found in toilet paper are DEHP, a carcinogen that is largely responsible for the worldwide cancer burden. In addition, the chemical polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) is suspected of causing adenoma, a benign tumor in the prostate, and reproductive diseases. The study also found that chlorinated toilet paper contains high levels of furans.
While manufacturers claim that the toilet paper is biodegradable, the manufacturing process is still highly destructive. Many old-growth forests are cut down and logged to create paper. Significant amounts of water and energy are used in cleaning and preparing the pulp, and chlorine is used to bleach the paper. The process pollutes local water sources. Therefore, choosing environmentally friendly toilet paper is a smart idea. However, the question remains, “How do we avoid these harmful chemicals in toilet paper?”
Alternatives to virgin toilet paper
Choosing a green alternative to virgin toilet paper can be a significant step towards protecting the environment. While direct contact with virgin TP may not be harmful, the byproducts of chlorine and formaldehyde are highly toxic and can harm both humans and the environment. Your personal environmental stance may affect your choice. For example, recycled pulp is a better choice than virgin paper because it uses 50 percent less water. Bamboo toilet paper is the most popular tree-free alternative and uses 80% less water than regular toilet paper.
Tree-free toilet paper is made of non-virgin plant fibers. It is biodegradable, septic-safe, and hypoallergenic. You may also be interested in buying products that are BPA-free, fragrance-free, paraben-free, and panda-friendly. Many brands also boast certifications that ensure they are non-GMO. This option may be worth the extra expense.
Marcal toilet paper, for example, is made of 100% recycled paper. It is certified by the Green Seal and is whitened without chlorine bleach. It is packaged in recycled paper wrappers and ships in a cardboard box. And because it is recyclable, it doesn’t leave any trace behind. Marcal toilet paper ships in a recycled cardboard box, and you can even buy it by the case on Amazon. Just remember that it is only available in 48 rolls, which is a bit of a hassle if you’re not buying a large volume.