Manataka American Indian Council




Ecology Front  


Boycott Kleenex!


Winter officially started December 21, and we are well into cold and flu season. Next time you reach for a Kleenex brand facial tissue to blow your nose....STOP! and honor Greenpeace's efforts to boycott Kleenex and other Kimberly-Clark products!

Greenpeace is urging consumers to boycott Kimberly-Clark, the largest tissue-products company in the world, makers of Kleenex, Scott, Viva and Cottonelle brand  products, because the company is clear-cutting ancient forests in Canada, including the Heart of the Boreal Forest, to produce their paper products. Additionally, the company uses chlorine to whiten their paper products; chlorine used during the wood pulp bleaching process produces dioxin, a highly toxic substance in the environment.

"Kimberly-Clark produces 4 million tons of tissue products annually and generates net sales of $14.3 billion. The company has offices, factories and mills in 38 countries and its products are sold in 150 countries. In North America, less than 19% of the pulp that Kimberly-Clark uses for its disposable tissue products comes from recycled sources. The rest comes directly from forests like Canada’s Boreal.  Most of the consumer products sold in local grocery stores, including Kleenex brand products, contain no recycled fiber whatsoever. Despite the fact that it has the capacity to make a much higher percentage of its products from post-consumer recycled fiber, Kimberly-Clark chose, in 2004, to use 3.3 million tons of virgin fiber to produce its tissue paper products globally" (information from Greenpeace e-newsletter).

Alternatives to Kleenex and other "mainstream" commercial tissues is to buy toilet paper and facial tissue from companies that use recycled paper! The July/August 2005 issue of Sierra, the magazine of the Sierra Club, states that Americans use 400 million miles of toilet paper each year!  "If none of it were made from recycled paper, we would use up the equivalent of 50 million trees"!

The magazine goes on to explain the terms "post-consumer" when it applies to recycled paper: post-consumer paper is "paper that's been recycled after people actually use it.  Otherwise, papermakers can use the word 'recycled' for scraps and trimmings that never even left the mill.  Calling such stuff recycled is like a food label screaming 'cholesterol free' on a product that didn't have it in the first place."

Many big-name companies have toilet paper stating they do contain 20% authentic post-consumer waste.  However, Sierra cites the company Seventh Generation as having the highest post-consumer content in its 100% recycled paper toilet tissue--80 percent (with 20% pre-consumer).  I have been using Seventh Generation products for years, and find it to be an environmentally responsible company that not only uses recycled paper, but uses hydrogen peroxide (breaks down into hydrogen and water in the environment) and sodium hydrosulfite, a non-toxic biodegradable bleach made from salt and oxygen, to bleach their toilet and facial tissue. Their paper products are also free of dyes, inks, and fragrances.

I do want to note that the box of Seventh Generation's facial tissue states that it is "100% recycled paper, 20% minimum post-consumer, 80% pre-consumer"; in other words, the post-consumer amount is not as high as in their toilet paper.  Suggestion: don't buy the facial tissue, and use the toilet paper to blow your nose.

Better yet, don't use tissue to blow your nose with at all!   At a retreat I attended, we got around to talking about ways to be responsible to the environment, and the following suggestions were made in order to use less facial tissue and save trees:

1)use cloth handkerchiefs instead of facial tissue and throw the used cloth in the washing machine with your clothes; 2) go in the bathroom, turn on the tap, and blow your nose in your hand and then rinse and wash your hands well in the sink (wash for at least 15 seconds with soap under hot running water to kill viruses); 3) blow your nose on any convenient piece of apparel you are wearing, such as a scarf, and throw it in with the wash. Personally, I prefer the cloth handkerchief.

One woman at the retreat told of how she'd given up using toilet paper.  She uses TP for "poop" as she put it (why are adults so squeemish about saying "bowel movement" and "urinate"?) but uses a soft cloth to wipe with for "pee", then rinses it out after each use. I grimaced when she said this-- I don't think I'm going to go this far, but I have tried to use less toilet paper squares per wipe, and I have been recycling the empty cardboard toilet paper rolls for years.

May you, your loved ones, and Great Mother Earth be well this season of sneezin'! 

~Liora Leah Zack




Thanks for going Green!

Liora Leah


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