Human Journey

Toilet paper wipes out 27,000 trees a day

Worldwide, the equivalent of almost 270,000 trees is either flushed or dumped in landfills every day and roughly 10 percent of that total is attributable to toilet paper, according to the latest issue of World Watch magazine.


“Meanwhile, growing populations, adoption of Western lifestyles, and sanitation improvements in developing countries are driving the increased use of toilet paper,” the magazine added. “The result is that forests in both the global North and South are under assault by paper companies competing to fill consumer demand.”

Wikimedia Commons image by Tristanb

“Steadily increasing demand for toilet paper in developing countries is a critical factor in the impact that toilet paper manufacturer have on forests around the world,” says author Noelle Robbins in a Worldwatch Institute news release. “And with the increasing pressure to reduce and discontinue the use of old growth forests, the move is on to tree plantations.”

But according to Robbins, this cure could be worse than the disease, Worldwatch said.

“While the paper industry often touts plantations as the solution to creating an ongoing supply of virgin pulp and fiber, these monocultures often displace indigenous plant and animal life, require tremendous amounts of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and soak up large quantities of water.

“While some toilet paper manufacturers rely on forests, others turn to trash cans for their raw materials.

“Advocates of recycled toilet paper point out that converting virgin pulp to toilet paper requires more water than recycled paper and makes use of the tons of already used paper that fills landfills. Various estimates place the quantity of waste paper tossed into U.S. dumps and landfills at 35-40 percent of total landfilled mass.”

“Toilet tissue, whether manufactured from virgin pulp or recycled paper, will continue to be an important part of daily life in Western countries and in developing countries emphasizing improved sanitation to mitigate health concerns,” Robbins said.

“Education of consumers; improvements in quality, pricing, and marketing recycled products; and willingness to consider toilet paper alternatives such as water for cleansing must be pursued to meet the needs of a growing global population.”

Read the article “Flushing Forests”

The Worldwatch Institute is a Washington, D.C.-based independent research organization that provides fact-based analysis of critical global issues. The Institute’s three main program areas include Climate & Energy, Food & Agriculture, and the Green Economy.

–Posted by David Braun

Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn
  • AK Go Green

    V nd 2 act rspnsbly. flshing dwn 27000 trees in d toilet v should b ashmd at rselves !!!!

  • Curt

    The title says 27,000 trees, but the article says 270,000… Which is it??

  • TimKI

    This is just a lot of bunkum by those whose jobs depend on dramatizing irelevant facts to “educate” the “unthinking’ population, and of course to keep themselves in a job.
    Lets suppose we didn’t wipe our bums (apart from some unidy problems of health), the trees that were not harvested would die and rot away anyhow. While old trees remain, new ones cannot grow in their place.
    So we cut a tree down and another grows. Whats the big deal?
    This just shows how far removed the majority of people are from reality.
    They think that only trees produce oxygen to save the planet, but in fact grass produces more oxygen that trees, and lets not forget that most of the recycling of the at atmosphere is done by the algae in the sea.
    Wake up people and open your eyes, and don’t blindly accept the trollop!!

  • Paul from Ohio

    Keep in mind that trees used for this purpose are actually a rapidly renewable resource. I suppose we could install bidets in everyone’s homes but we would waste trillions of gallons of precious water in order to do this. How smart is that?
    For every action of these silly do-gooders there are unintended consequences.

  • seeker04

    i dont think its all about the trees, i think the main point of this article was to point out how were using up our resources faster than we can safely use them, and to point out that its not just fossil fuels that we need to worry about. OH and instead of just looking for details that you can disagree with …how about u read the article and open ur mind…

  • erinko

    @ Curt: 27,000 is 10% of the total 270,000 trees used for all paper consumption combined. The 27,000 figure represents toilet paper alone.
    What would be a good alternative, I wonder? Maybe toilet with built-in bidets and air-dryers? An efficient washing system could be less wasteful (especially if they were attached to composting toilets) and would keep our hands cleaner too.

  • John Rudmin

    And therein lies the solution–
    If t.p. accounts for 10% of the waste, then the other 90% is an ample source from whence to supply more t.p. So only buy recycled! One problem solved (if we do it)…next?

  • Curt

    Erinko — thanks for clarifying that 27,000 trees is for t.p. alone.
    Here’s a couple creative ideas:
    1) Eat less, you’ll use less, and be healthier to boot.
    2) Have you ever seen your dog drag its bottom outside??

  • Julia

    Our planet is in trouble! Almost every day we seem to hear of yet another problem affecting the environment – and what a list of problems! – pollution, acid rain, climate change, the destruction of rainforests and other wild habitats, the decline and extinction of thousands of species of animals and plants….and so on.
    Nowadays, most of us know that these threats exist and that humans have caused them.So will you choose reusable shopping bags?Will you pay $2 to protect our environment?
    Environmental-freidly Shopping bags low to $2 at

  • Arbroath

    Paul from Ohio is spot on. These trees didn’t come from the rain forest! They come from huge tracts of land cultivated for the purpose of producing paper pulp. If you’ve misgivings about using toilet paper, you could always wipe the arse with old National Geographics. They surely don’t make them out of trees. Or do they?

  • timber

    What ridiculously yellow (har, har) journalism, NG! The timber used in the US for TP is an extremely and easily renewable resource. I help manage my family’s 3,500 acre timber farm in GA, and even at maturity (30-40 years for building timber, 10-20 years for pulp used in paper and TP), there is no danger to the environment. In fact, timber prices are down the past few years. Get educated about renewable resources before shouting that everyone needs to spend thousands of dollars on composting toilets and bidets (I shudder to think of the “carbon footprint” of just one such toilet/bidet). Even the Europeans aren’t that crazy yet.

  • wildebeast

    Do like the South Africans: use toilet paper from bagasse (left over of sugar cane). Unbleached and no trees donw the drain….

  • wildebeast

    Do like the South Africans: use toilet paper made from bagasse (left over from sugar cane). Unbleached and no trees “down the drain”……

  • Mitch

    I had no idea the amount of trees used for toilet paper. That almost seems like a ridiculously high number.
    I have been trying to reduce, reuse & recycle when possible. One thing I found that will help the environment is switching to eco-friendly cleaners. I have 2 kids, 4 years and 7 months. Laundry and glass/surface cleaners are key items to have not to mention fabric freshener. Most people use non-biodegradable products that poison the water and are harmful to animals. We use Carribean Mist which is biodegradable and the fabric freshener is safe for kids and cats/dogs. I wouldn’t switch back after I saw an eco-friendly laundry detergent take out stains!
    Hope this helps!

  • Daniel

    @ TimKI
    “the trees that were not harvested would die and rot away anyhow. While old trees remain, new ones cannot grow in their place.
    So we cut a tree down and another grows. Whats the big deal?”
    The big deal is you don’t have a clue about what a tree does during his different life stages.
    (a) a tree isn’t a fruit that rots away when not ‘harvested’
    (b) a young tree doesn’t produce a lot of oxygen, but an old tree produces 6 times more O2, even tho it takes up almost the same space
    “This just shows how far removed the majority of people are from reality.”
    Correct, only problem is, you are one of the ppl far from reality.
    “in fact grass produces more oxygen than trees”
    Wrong again, sorry.
    “most of the recycling of the atmosphere is done by the algae in the sea”
    Algae do produce quite some O2, but if either (trees or algae) would produce only %s less due to more human impact, we would be in serious trouble.
    “Wake up people and open your eyes, and don’t blindly accept the trollop!!”
    Couldn’t agree with you more, too bad you’re the one spreading trollop here :/

  • ramo

    use water instead

  • raja

    Hi, ramo you are right. In fact Indian households which are yet to be westernized still use their left hand to scrub while they pour water on the back with right hand. Of course the left hand will be thoroughly washed later.It is socially disrespectful if you extend your left hand to get or give anything from others and left hand is never used to handle eatables in this part of the world. If used under unusual unavoidable situations, an apology is expected.

  • The Window Man

    We must use the badai. Let us cleans our filth away.
    “I am here to serve.”
    The Window Man

  • boyscout

    Toilet paper is something we need. But surely we can come up with something else that is earth friendly disposable. Lets talk about phone books we get every three months. IF we want to save trees talk to the phone companies. My opinion is if we quit building houses with wood we could save untold numbers of forests. Forests are our friend they help protect us keep us cooler and they help keep our air clean. They also hold soil together. Wood should be regarded as a precious material and only used for things like trim to dress something up. Wood in all forms is still a living breathing entity and should be respected as such not waisted frivolously. There are so many other cheap materials to build houses with that are resistant to fires and floods and that would also save lives and reduce insurance costs as well as so many other costs. Lets get a clue for earth day.

  • dougfishing

    Grow marijuana (HEMP) and this would solve this problem. It is a very useful plant and can be used for 1,000,000.01 things even toilet paper. It is just that simple and easy to do. All we need to do is tell our leaders the ones that work for us that we want this to be legal and it would do a lot more just save the trees. You can get up to three crops a year here in the US and even more in other climates. It would help the whole world and there is no reason for it to be illegal in the first place. They made up all kinds of lies about it demonized it and that is how they made it illegal by lies. The truth is it is one of or the most important plants on the face of the earth.

  • billy bob

    Save a tree; don’t, um, wipe . . . ?
    Hey! maybe instead of hugging trees we could wipe ourselves directly on to the bark, maybe even make it a communal thing, accomplishing the “task at hand” while doing no harm to the tree, which of course feels pain, right? R-r-right . . . .

  • prakar

    My 2 cents on the Water Depletion Vs Tree Depletion debate that always trails behind the asswiping question:
    With water, we don’t actually “use” it – it remains water and passes back into the ecosystem as water, soon naturallly purified to re-enter the domestic supply. So the water problem largely becomes a distribution problem and not a question of renewable/nonrenewable.
    Not so with trees – when they’re “used” to make homes, furniture, books and yes toilet paper, they actually vanish – cease to exist in the organic form known as a “tree”. They take a very long time to “renew” even after much-touted-but-rarely-implemented re-planting measures.
    On the esthetic front – the results of using water are more comfortable, hygienic (refer to my article
    “No Skid Marks in India…”) and all round superior.

  • Rashi

    In days of old when knights were bold, etc.
    Has anyone invented electric toilet paper?
    Soft aluminum foil is washable and recyclable.
    Washclothes can be used and washed. Save the used ones for a single load of laundry.
    I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree, etc.
    Make toilet paper out of discarded organic waste (nutshells, corncobs, cloth scraps, cotton waste, etc.)

  • Sonjajeane

    This problem with toilet tissue has bothered me for some time. I am a very big advocate in saving trees. Last year I read research connected BPA contamination in ground water to recycled content bathroom tissue (Dresden University) because of how we recycle paper (we throw all paper including glossy thermal paper into the vat). So we are now flushing plastic down the toilet too! I took this into my own hands and developed the first bamboo bathroom tissue. The product just launched 3 weeks ago and you will be seeing it in larger stores soon. It is elemental chlorine free, packaged in a 100 % recycled cardboard box instead of plastic, and I plant a tree with Trees for the Future for every 4 roll box that is purchased. Bamboo is extremely renewable and sustainable. It makes for a soft and smooth toilet tissue and breaks down quickly. You can check it out on my website We have it up for sale and we offer free shipping in bulk. We have kept the price competitive, too. If you have any questions, please call me toll free. 866-996-2867 or email me at – Help me get the word out and help me save trees and water! – Sonja Sheasley, Co-Founder of Bum Boosa Bamboo Products

  • captkit

    Let the farmers grow hemp.
    Which makes paper and we can grow more of in the US than bamboo.
    However till that day I’ll switch to
    Which will probably create jobs
    somewhere in the line.
    Anything will help these days.

  • sam

    here’s my math: 27 k trees per day is +- 10 million trees (i assume spruce) per year. average spruce forest has 661 trees per acre = 163.337 per square km. per year a patch of 7.8 * 7.8 km goes on Tp, that is 62 sq km. Ten times that on total global paper prod, you say.
    In Canada, within the boreal region, there are about 1,890,000 square kilometres that are between 80% to 100% forested and another 650,000 square kilometres with 60% to 80% forest cover (wikipedia). Lets say 2,000,000 sq km of trees.
    Total paper prod.= 0.04 % of that, Tp prod. = 0.004 % of Canadian boreal fores trees. Russian and Scandinavian trees not counted

  • mirza

    I thinks the west people should start thinking on changing their the way to clean the “shit” (sorry to say) to avoid of making “new shit” (toilet tissue in the sewarage system. Maybe the east culture (mostly in Asian countries, in which we only use water to clean (no need to use paper, could be an alternative for western people to change the their culture and habit. Otherwise I think no better solution than that.
    Please think about it.

  • Mark

    No, Daniel, you are the one spreading trollop. Millions of acres of forest are destroyed by natural means every year. You should be more worried about the effect gasahol will have on the price of corn, as its production increases. Instead you’re concerned with what you’re going to wipe your arse with. My advice to you is… don’t wipe it if you’re that concerned. Its alarmist tree-huggers like you that give environmentalism a bad name. Your kind would have us all wearing scrubbers to keep the CO2 levels from our own breath from contributing to global warming.

  • Just Looking

    Five years ago, I bought these thick and soft pee-wiping cloths from They have held up very well and I hope to use them for many more years!
    I recommend them to all my female friends for comfortable blotting. It is NO trouble to wash them. I have no desire to use them for my poop, however, I did use cloth diapers and wipes on my children. This truly saves trees and my own dollars from going down the toilet!

  • honeyislandjoe

    All you tree huggers out there can just do your part in this and stop using toilet paper altogether. This will give us normal people the ability to recognize you easier. Smell you later!!!

  • The Hammer

    I frequenlty use many rolls of toilet paper per day to insulate my home. Very cheap source of warmth!! My family, which consists of only myself, uses 5 rolls per day to also sustain my fetish i have for the softness of the paper, and the durability of the roll inside.
    I also feel that i should release the paper back into the environment, as i cover all trees in toilet paper everyday to show my support for them.
    I hope the members of this forum can see that my way is the way of the future!!
    From The Hammer 🙂

  • Linda

    Well there is nothing to worry too much about this issue since the source of TP is generally renewable. Meanwhile we can also suggest some common alternatives to people. If they feel ok with it, they can pursue. Simple!!
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  • Sagolikt

    I had no idea we were talking about this amount of trees. It’s insane if you think about it.
    Maybe we should take the concept of shells used in the movie from the 90s with Stallone. What was it’s name now?… Ah 🙂 Demolition Man 🙂

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  • John

    Of course the forests in both the global North and South are under assault by paper companies competing to fill consumer demand.
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  • IanJ

    The alternative to wiping is washing. It is vastly more effective than wiping, cleaner, and very importantly would save 27,000 trees per day, not to mention the resources used to process these and ship them to the shop shelves. Many countries practice washing, and while the west might see this as yucky, it is far superior to smearing it around with paper.

    The only washing going on here is the brain-washing of the wasteful toilet paper marketing machine selling a solution that is far less effective and much more expensive than the alternative. We all have water already connected to the toilet cistern (you don’t need to install a bidet), but it does not take much to have a 3-litre bottle with a small hole (about the diameter of your small finger) cut in the top which can be filled with warm pleasant water. No more raw and itchy bottoms from ineffective and expensive paper. Better for health and haemorrhoids as well.

    Save 27,000 trees per day!

  • Joanne Light


    A situation with which I take issue
    is the use of trees for bathroom tissue.

    Half a million in a year
    just to wipe our lowly rear.

    Better the brand with the bright, green label.
    Leave the trees to enable

    the air to clean its carbon load.
    Keep Scottie’s little Softee in a living branch mode.

    We don’t ned this puffy clown.
    What we need is trees not down.

    So, next time you’re running, you’re a-wipe to buy,
    think of the forests; think of the sky.

    Don’t let the live trees get a bum wrap.
    Switch to the green brand to clean up your crap.

    Free the trees to fix the air.
    Recycled paper’s fine down there.

    © Joanne Light

  • TheHobbit

    Is it better waste lots of water, limited water, water that is getting less potable everyday, to wipe your lowers or use paper form trees that can be repleanted, reflorested, can grow and gives new trees?

  • Nina

    Dear Joanne Light
    You are so bright
    toshd on this gloomy subject
    somr unexpected and wonderful light.
    Yes I agre it is a crime to waste some 27 000 trees day
    in in this suicidal way.
    I thought about it for some time and developed the system
    to solve this crime.
    It is so simple so plain so fine
    no technology nor any gadgets
    of any kind and most importantly
    no paper toilet of any BRAND.

    But must be said
    It is a solution number 1
    if you know I MEAN.
    Yes I can save a tree may be two
    not to mention reduction of pulp in the flow.
    It makes me cool and makes me proud
    for all the reasons above outlined.
    I did not share with anybody until now.
    Well you made me do so. I am glad.
    So for you and others like minded souls
    I share this secrets with you.
    Please let me know.
    Best wishes for 2017

  • Tree cutter

    But my company will cut down more

  • Pingback: Does Reducing Toilet Paper Use Make a Difference? - Control-n-Roll()


    Through the centuries, world cultures had used several methods to get rid of the remaining after the waste operation. Stone, wood, fabric, bone, water (although some did not care at all for the what is remaining )…

    Although most of the past centuries STREETS OF DEVELOPED WEST were the places to throw these human waste materials (even the houses had not toilets inside until 1950’s)…

    We have lots of cleaining facilities today, embedded compressed water pipe directed to bottom cleans all in half a minute, giving fresh feelings…

    Only you need is to dry bottom with a small part of paper (nearly %10 of todays consumption), a permanent part of fabric is also avalibale 🙂

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