Tender U.S. backsides are, so say environmentalists, wreaking more environmental devastation than their owners' thirsty gas-guzzling cars, sprawling McMansions, or penchant for fast food. But why - and how - are American derrieres causing more destruction than foreign fannies? The U.K.'s Guardian explains that Greenpeace Activists fault Americans' insistence on quilted, ultra-soft, multi-ply toilet tissue.
Said Allen Hershkowitz, a Natural Resources Defense Council senior scientist: "This is a product that we use for less than three seconds and the ecological consequences of manufacturing it from trees is enormous." He goes on to state that future generations will look back in shame on our egregiously wasteful taste in toilet paper, calling it "one of the greatest excesses of our age."
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Perhaps his most incendiary assertion: "making toilet paper from virgin wood is a lot worse than driving Hummers in terms of global warming pollution."
On the case is Greenpeace, who plan to raise Americans' awareness of their potty manners through a campaign that also aims to uncover "an aggressive new push by the paper industry giants to market so-called luxury brands." Just this week the organization launched an ecological ranking of toilet paper products.
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While this may all sound like a giant Charmin conspiracy theory, Hershkowitz claims that greater than 98 percent of toilet paper sold in America comes from virgin forests; Europe and Latin America score far better, with up to 40 percent of their toilet paper sourced from recycled material. And beyond toilet paper, the Guardian claims that Americans "consume vastly more paper than any other country - about three times more per person than the average European, and 100 times more than the average person in China."
Dave Dixon, spokesman for toilet paper manufacturer Kimberly-Clark, scoffs at the claims, stating that if Americans really wanted to buy the recycled toilet paper that's been available for years, they would already be doing so. Said Dixon: "for bath tissue Americans in particular like the softness and strength that virgin fibres provides."
Hershkowitz concludes: "I really do think it is overwhelmingly an American phenomenon...people just don't understand that softness equals ecological destruction."
And there's the rub.