Sin Tracker: toilet paper

In: Uncategorized

1 Mar 2009

Monitoring the alleged sins of modern life

I do not normally feature silly articles from the Guardian as it could easily turn into a full time occupation. But the piece on the alleged destructive impact of soft toilet paper was far from bog standard. I have even had to resurrect my Sin Tracker column for the purpose.

The article by Suzanne Greenberg, the newspaper’s US environment correspondent started with the paragraph:

“The tenderness of the delicate American buttock is causing more environmental devastation than the country’s love of gas-guzzling cars, fast food or McMansions, according to green campaigners. At fault, they say, is the US public’s insistence on extra-soft, quilted and multi-ply products when they use the bathroom.”

It went on to quote Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defence Council, arguing that: “People just don’t understand that softness equals ecological destruction.” He claimed that Americans’, er, appetite for soft toilet paper was causing the destruction of virgin forests while the use of chemicals in pulp manufacture was doing further damage.

Evidently Greenpeace has even launched a campaign to Americans on the environmental cost of their toilet habits. It includes a guide with an ecological ranking of different toilet paper products.

Such campaigns have more to do with promoting a hard pro-austerity moral message than an objective discussion about environmental impact. They even make a hair shirt sound like a relatively comfortable garment in comparison.

Wipe that smirk off your face!

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