How Many Trees Must Die So Our Hands Can Get Dry?
Did you know that every day more than 51,000 trees are cut down to support North America’s paper towel habit? Or that the paper industry in general consumes more water than any other single industry on Earth? Maybe you weren’t aware that 254 million tons of paper towels are discarded globally every year.
Facts and figures like these help highlight just how dependent we’ve become on a product that’s used only once and then tossed. It’s alarming, but what can we do? After all, we’re just one person. But I suspect this may be exactly the kind of attitude that makes a bad problem worse. The kind of mindset that says, “Eh, no matter what I do or don’t do, it’s not going to have an impact. After all, I’m just one person.”
Turns out, there’s a lot we can do to help conserve resources like trees and water, especially when we’re talking about paper towel and napkin usage. When many of us commit to a few small, conscious choices, it’s amazing the difference we can make. And it doesn’t have to be particularly hard or inconvenient!
Here’s a progression of “good, better, best” ideas to help you reduce paper towel and napkin waste at home and on the go.
- To make one ton of paper towels 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water are polluted.
- Globally, discarded paper towels result in 254 million tons of trash every year.
- If just 50% of the U.S. population uses 3 paper napkins a day, that totals 450,000,000 napkins for 1 day—or more than 164 billion per year.
- If every household in the U.S. used just one less 70-sheet roll of paper towels, that would save 544,000 trees each year.
- Worldwide the pulp and paper industry is the fifth largest consumer of energy, accounting for 4% of all the world’s energy use.
- Over 60% of the roughly 17 billion cubic feet of timber harvested worldwide each year is used for paper and pulp.
- The paper industry uses more water to produce a ton of product than any other industry.
- Discarded paper is a major component of many landfill sites, accounting for about 35% by weight of municipal solid waste.
- Pulp and paper is the third largest industrial polluter to air, water and land in both Canada and the United States, and releases well over 100 million kg of toxic pollution each year.
- The Best Planet-Friendly Paper Products | One Green Planet
- Facts About Paper: The Impact of Consumption | The Paperless Project
- How to Reduce Your Paper Towel Use | | The Paperless Project
- How to use one paper towel | Joe Smith | TEDxConcordiaUPortland
- Wash Your Hands OF (not with) Paper Towels! | Norwex Movement
- 22 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Compost | WebEcoist
- Electric Hand Dryers vs. Paper Towels
- Paper vs. Cloth Table Napkins — Which are Greener? | Green Groundswell
- Good-bye cotton cloths and sponges, hello microfiber! | PennStateExtension