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Saturday, January 13, 2007

David Attenborough and your bum: six degrees of separation

For our birthdays, me and the hubby (mine's Dec 28th and his is Jan 5th - two capricorns - aargh) decided to buy each other the DVD of the first series of the groundbreaking BBC nature documentary series Planet Earth. I've just finished watching the first episode. I had to choke back tears the whole way through. It was utterly staggering and has left me incapable of being detached or wittily cynical so if you're looking for a bit of that, don't bother with this post; it's uncharacteristically po-faced.

Ahem, here goes. We humans are, according to the New Scientist, by the far the most dominant species that has ever existed. Because of us, per the Stern report, 40% of the earth's species will be dead by 2040 (actually, given that today here in PA it's been 45 degrees F and drizzling lightly, compared to the same time last year when it was 0 degrees, several feet of snow on the ground and the river frozen solid, I'd say 2040 is a conservative estimate for this damage).
Watching this amazing documentary and being reminded (well, not really reminded beacuse you've never seen anything like this series before, so I should say shown) what's out there beyond us, our cities, our shops, our internet, you're hit over the head by the enormity of what's at stake and how badly we've f*#ed up. Penguins that can survive in -70 degrees C? Elephants who find their way through hundreds of miles of blinding dust storms to the same river delta just as water, which has traveled five months to reach them, arrives each year? Gone, gone, gone. It's hard to believe these images are from the same world we inhabit. And I guess therein lies the problem.

I'd say it's the 'heart' to An Inconvenient Truth's 'head'. You have to
order it. Or actually, you could see if they have it on Netflix or just borrow mine when I'm done to save resources. Someone should send a copy to GWB. In fact, I will.

Right, impassioned cri de coeur over. So what have we done about it today? Funnily enough, one of the things shown in the documentary was
the Boreal forest, a forest that rings the earth just below the arctic circle. It is ancient, at least 10,000 years old, and contains a third of the world's trees. It is so powerful that during the summer, it's responsible for global levels of CO2 falling and of O2 rising.
Ok, hold that thought.

So, today, we had a minor victory in Narrowsburg. I was wandering round Pecks doing the grocery shopping and got to the loo roll aisle, fulling expecting to find they still hadn't got any recycled paper in (regular readers will recall that we asked them to start stocking it back in early Dec). I wandered up to the guy who was stacking shelves.

"A while back I asked the manager to get recycled toilet tissue. Don't suppose you've had any success?" I asked.

Imagine my surprise when he said "Well, I'm afraid we only have this one," proffering a huge multipack of Marcal.

Marcal, eco-friendly? I couldn't believe it. I've been walking past Marcal in NY delis for years. But there on the pack was a 'recycled' logo and the legend "paper from paper, not from trees". I couldn't work out whether they'd got the Marcal because of me or whether it had always been there and I just hadn't noticed, but either way, this was fabulous news.
"Done - I'll take the 24 roll multipack," I said with a triumphant flourish. It was the biggest loo roll purchase I've ever made.

Still feeling a bit suspicious, I thought I'd just do a bit of research when I got home. It seems kosher; Marcal has min 75% recycled content and min 40% post-consumer content, which isn't terrible (though by way of comparison the equivalent figures for Seventh Generation are 80% and 80%, which is obviously preferable, but Marcal is much better than nothing and up here it's the best I could find).

In the course of my research I also discovered some things about Kimberley Clark. Like the fact that less than 19% of the paper that goes into KC products (market leaders in the US) is recycled. The rest comes from...you guessed it, virgin forests, including the Boreal forests.
Yep, KC is cutting down untouched, 10,000 year old forests to make paper for you to wipe your bum on once and flush away. Here's what that looks like (the logging, not your bum, thankfully):

Before:

After:

And god only knows what that's contributing to global warming. In fact, KC is so proud of this work that on their website they have the following to say (I piched this from Greenpeace's Kleercut anti-KC campaign package:

KLEENEX Facial Tissue is made from 100 per cent virgin fibre and contains no
recycled fibre. Virgin fibre is used in our tissue because it provides the
superior softness consumers expect from a premium facial tissue product.
Oh, well then, if consumers expect it, what choice do they have? And if the consumer told them to jump off a cliff, you can be sure they'd do that too.

Well guess what gang, you are the consumer. So if this isn't what you want, let KC know by boycotting their products. Then they'll listen and stop chopping down trees. It's really that simple.

OK, I sound like Swampy so it's time I went to bed. But here are the products it's safe to buy (via travelingpants):

Ancient Forest Friendly Tissue Products - USA

Toilet Paper: CVS Bathroom Tissue 1000, Cascades, Marcal, Natural Value, Earth First, Seventh Generation, Trader Joe's, 365 Everyday Value
Facial Tissue: Marcal Fluff Out, Seventh Generation, Trader Joe's
Paper Towels: Marcal Bella, Natural Value, Seventh Generation, Trader Joe's, 365 Everyday Value

And goodbye Kleenex, Cottonelle, Andrex - Charmin is a no-no too.

Go tell everyone you know. My next step: to see if Pecks will stop selling it...

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