A Tough Talk about Coffee

It’s six a.m. My husband and I are sitting across from each other, steaming mugs of Eight O’Clock coffee on the table between us. We’re having a tough talk. And, from the way my husband’s lips are pinched together, it’s not going my way.

Me: “Honest. All I was trying to do was Google paper coffee filters. But then one click led to another…”

My husband sighs. “Like always.”

A word about coffee filters, (since I’d promised to blog about them before I got sidetracked.): Most paper ones are made from the pulp of fast growing, soft trees, like pine, which likely grow in tree farms.  (If there are brands out there made from post consumer recyclables, I couldn’t find them.) The filters can be white or brown, and there are also reusable baskets. With wet coffee grounds in them, paper filters break down easily in landfills. They can also be tossed into the composter, when we someday get one.

The problem is, the coffee filters we currently use are white. So, chances are elemental bleach is used to make them. Like with other paper milled products, byproducts from chemicals used in manufacturing can find their way into the air, ground, and water.

At least with coffee filters our choices are easy:
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We can continue using the white ones on top of our fridge, or

 

61ogitscr4l-_ac_us160_switch to an unbleached version, which is kinder to the environment, or

img_1591go with the reusable one that came with our new coffee maker. That’s best for the environment, but it’s harder to clean and may raise our cholesterol.

(The part about cholesterol may seem random, but I read somewhere that paper filters do the good job of absorbing something in the coffee that raises LDLs.)

Back to the tough talk:

My husband: “I have no problem with switching to brown filters.”

Me: “Another easy green change!  Thank you! But what about our coffee? Now that we know what we know, we can’t just––”

My husband stops me mid sentence with his stare. “Does everything have to change?”

“Huh?”

“We’ve had Eight O’Clock coffee every morning for the past fifteen years. I…” He lowers his eyes. I’m instantly sad for him.

Me: “But until now we didn’t know about the small farmers in Brazil.”

My husband: “Brazil? Every week you come up with something else. I liked it better when we didn’t think about every little thing. Now, not only are we were trying to save the planet, but we have to worry about Brazilian farmers.”

“Brazil is part of the planet,” I snap. “So are the other countries where coffee plants grow.” My husband’s chin stiffens. I regret snapping. I slide my hand across the table onto his. “The problems with coffee goes further than the farmers.”

Once upon a time coffee grew in the shade:

Coffee is a small shrub that naturally grows on forest floorsimages in some of the most delicate eco-systems on the planet. To grow and harvest it, the sustainable practice called Shade Growing has been handed down for generations.  Shade Growing is where the shrubs grow naturally under the canopy of a rainforest.

Then coffee became the globe’s second most traded commodity next to crude oil:

In the 1970’s coffee companies, like Nestle, put pressure on local tribes to guayab_2let them clear vast acres of rainforest, so coffee could be planted in rows, and farmers could produce more.

This method of coffee farming is called sun cultivation and it comes with a cost. Because large sections of rainforest are destroyed, the bio-diversity of plant and

images-2animal life that used to help control insects and plants that damage coffee crops, and which also provide nutrients to the soil have disappeared, too. That means farmers have to now rely on pesticides and herbicides, as well as fertilizer to grow coffee. Plus, with the rainforest canopy gone, more water is needed to provide moisture.

The dangers of industrializing coffee farming: Sustained exposure to chemicals have impacted the health of the men, women, and children who work the farms. Of concern too, these artificial means of growing coffee is a one-two-punch to the rainforests that keeps coming, because whatever remains of the eco-system continues to be harmed by it.

The tough talk continued:

My husband: “Okay. Maybe coffee companies aren’t being nice to locals or responsible with the rainforest. But I like my coffee. It tastes good and the price is right. Why should I give it up for something that’s happening 5,000 miles away?”

Me: “Here’s one reason. Water. The rainforests only make up 7% of the planet and yet they help maintain the climate and water cycle for all of it.”

My husband: “I just buy a 2 1/2 pound bag every month. I don’t see how that–––”

Me: “The little choices add up to things that matters. But here’s the good news. There are coffee companies that believe that, too. If we choose to buy from them, it makes us part of the solution.”

Three certifications that say a coffee company is doing right by people and the planet:

Fair Trade: Coffee grown using ethical standards and treatment, like no child laborers and share of profits for local farmers.

Shade Grown: Coffee grown naturally, within forests.

Organic: Coffee grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals.magiccityblend_large

This article by thegoodtrade.com has a list of eco-friendly coffees to choose from. I’m interested in trying, Higher Ground Roasters, because it has all three certifications.

Last word in the tough talk: 

Me: “Higher Ground coffee may cost a little more than Eight O’Clock, but the difference is not astronomical.” I squeeze my husband’s hand.  “If it’s better for the planet, can’t we at least try it.”

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My husband gives me his sweet smile, which makes me smile, too.

I knew he’d come around.

My Arguments for Cloth Napkins over Paper

My husband and I had gotten off our paper napkin habit a while ago. It was one of the easiest green changes we’ve made so far. Even still, my husband found what to complain about when I bought 2-25 packs of linen napkins.

“Are you going into the restaurant business or did you overbuy again?”

“Um…” I overbought again.

Then, I had even more explaining to do when a friend pointed out that the greenhouse gasses released and the water used when washings and drying those cloth napkins makes them no better for the planet than paper ones.

Thanks a lot, friend.

So, here are my arguments in favor of cloth napkins over paper:

A never ending cycle: Paper napkins are a single use item. That means companies, like Procter and Gamble, 51-jexwsphl-_ac_us160_need a steady flow of resources, like trees, water, crude oil, and electricity in order to manufacture and package them. The many phases of getting those resources to the mills causes the release of greenhouse gasses at intervals. Then manufacturing and packaging the products releases greenhouse gasses and chemicals that pollute the air and water at a steady flow. And after, the finished product has to be shipped to supermarkets, sending more greenhouse gasses into the air. The consumer completes the cycle when they use the napkins and then drop them in the trash at a rate of over a billion per day–––and that’s just in the US! Those billion plus napkins wind up in landfills across the country, where they slowly decompose and release even more greenhouse gasses.

Big Paper is often not so eco-friendly: Paper mills have a reputation of being hard on the environment.  They use harsh chemicals to turn wood into pulp and elemental bleach to make their paper products bright white. Paper milling has been around a long time, though. So, many companies that make paper have powerful lobbies. Throughout the 1970’s and 80’s they’d block regulations put forth by the EPA that would have made them more planet friendly. That said, nowadays there are 51ujs6ebutl-_sx425_mills that do the right thing. They use recycled material instead of trees and gentle or no bleaching agents to manufacture their paper products. For me, it was just a question of doing a little research to find out which paper companies really care about the Earth.

These days, most washers and dryers are energy efficient: Our washing machine and dryer both have Energy Star ratings. That means they’re designed to save us money and be better for the planet. Plus, I let my linen napkins accumulate and then I wash them with my whites. I could also use the setting for ‘tap/cold’ water, which would save even more energy. If I then hung each napkin on a clothes line instead of using the dryer to dry them it would be even greener. But we don’t have a cloths line. Phew!

There are plenty of green laundry products available:  My husband and I haven’t yet talked about making our laundry room greener. (I’m still working through reducing our trash.) But for several weeks now, I’ve been experimenting with Dr. Bronners as detergent and cleaning vinegar as fabric softener. (Dr. Bronners is a plant-based soap that has a reputation for being good and green.) My husband was skeptical. He said things like: “Do you even know what your doing?” and “I’m not on board.”

The wash came out great, though. And, as a bonus, I no longer had to use dryer sheets, because for some reason, vinegar not only softens clothes, but it also prevents static cling! But that’s not all! That musty smell in our wash tub disappeared! So, now, not only did I find a green alternative to laundry soap, but we no longer have to buy fabric softener or dryer sheets! I was over-the-top excited, right up to the moment our washing machine stopped working mid-cycle and no longer turned on. Guess who my husband blamed.

“But I’d been using Dr. Bronners and vinegar for over a month,” I said.

To which he replied, “You killed the coffee maker the same way.”

“It was thirteen years old.”

“It was doing fine until you cleaned it with vinegar.”

For the record, I’d cleaned the coffee maker with vinegar plenty of times over the years. But now, whether he can figure out how to fix the machine or we replace it, I’m a little scared to try the vinegar/DB combo again. So, my plan-B was to find a green laundry detergent at my supermarket. I noticed that Seventh Generation has so many planet-safe ones, and most of them have gotten ratings of 8.0 or better for environment on GoodGuide. (They’d also gotten high marks for health and social.) Some of them 173738-5even come in compostable containers. But, back to my point, whether I use vinegar and DB or one of the green detergents found in the cleaning aisle at the store, that would take the negative impact of chemicals from laundry detergents and such out of the equation.

Cloth napkins can be used more than once: Don’t be grossed out by this, but my husband and I will use the same linen napkin for two or three meals, or until it looks dirty. (I see you making a face.) It’s not like we share a single napkin with lots of people. It’s just the two of us and we each have our own. And, might I point out, the Spartans wiped their mouths with lumps of dough. At least we’re not dabbing our faces with uncooked bread.

With all that considered: It seems to me, with environmentally friendly practices in place for washing and drying, cloth napkins win over paper.

And now, the degrees of going green for paper napkins:

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DIY cleaning wipes

I’ll confess that I’m not much of a do-it-yourselfer. That said, now that I’ve made my own cleaning wipes, I’m a little in love with the idea. It’s super easy to put together a jar full.  Plus, they’re just as easy to use as the Member’s Mark Disinfecting Wipes my husband buys from Sam’s Club. All I needed to do was cut up one of his old t-shirts instead of throwing it away, put some vinegar or Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, water, and an essential oil into a pitcher and pour it into a mason jar on top of the rags.

Here’s the recipe I used. There are also many on-line to choose from.

RECIPE FOR DIY CLEANING WIPES USING VINEGAR 

1, 1.5 cup size mason jarIMG_1499

 

 

Enough cut up t-shirts or socks etc. IMG_1504to stuff it full

 

 

3/4 cup vinegar, (it can be a little on the heavy

side)IMG_1502

 

 

IMG_15011/2 cup water

 

 

1/2 cup potato vodka

5 drops of each of the following essential oils: lemon, wild orange, and DoTerra On Guard or the equivalent, like Thieves or Protect.

Mix liquids into a bowl or pitcher. Add rags to mixture and work liquid through so all rags are damp. Stuff mason jar full of rags.

img_1558 Put lid on and tighten. Store in dark area. (I keep a jar in cabinets under our kitchen and bathroom sinks.)

 

RECIPE FOR WIPES USING DR. BRONNER’Simg_1557

1, 1.5 cup size mason jar

Cut up t-shirts and socks, etc.

Twenty squirts of Dr. Bronner’s soap

1/3 cup hydrogen peroxide

1/3 cup water

Follow same directions as a above.

HERE’S WHAT I LIKE ABOUT BOTH

They’re convenient for light cleaning. I use the vinegar ones on my formica counters, stove, fridge, mirrors, windows, and for wiping around in the downstairs bathroom. The Dr. Bronner’s wipes work well, too. A little goes a long way with it!

They get rid of dirt. I used the Dr. Bronner’s wipes on my bathtub and the ring inside it dissolved after just a little rubbing. The vinegar ones cleaned the smudges off the bottom of my front door and left my bathroom mirror shinyimg_1550. Also, I cut up some of my husband’s socks that he was going to throw out. They fit perfectly over the head of my WetJet Swiffer. (At first, my husband couldn’t figure out why I was so excited about old socks.) I put them in a mason jar with the Dr. Bronner’s solution. They  worked great for cleaning my hardwood floors. Now I have reusable, washable Swiffer pads instead of disposable ones!

They’re better for the environment. Both vinegar and Dr. Bronner’s are plant based and are harmless to people, pets and the planet. Plus, the cloth wipes can be washed and reused instead of thrown away after a single use, which means we’re not adding more non-biodegrable trash to landfills. After I clean with one of the rags, I just toss it into my bin of used cleaning cloths. When the bin fills up I run a load of laundry in hot water and bleach.

HERE’S WHAT’S NOT SO GREAT

Vinegar can damage stone and tile.  It’s fine to use on some surfaces, like formica and glass, but not on others, like stone and tile. Because of its acidity, it can cause streaking in stone and can eat away grout on tiled surfaces. I also wouldn’t use it on my wood floors. But the Dr. Bronner’s wipes are fine to use anywhere.

Dr. Bronner’s is expensive. My husband nearly blew a fuse when I told him I paid $33.00 for a half-gallon jug of soap. “But we can use it for everything from doing dishes to cleaning our pets,” I said.  The fact that I would use it for more than just wipes didn’t help him come around.

Neither works as a sanitizer. There’s a difference between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting. In terms of cleaning, which simply means removing dirt from a surface, both the  vinegar and Dr. Bronner’s do the job. But they don’t kill 99.9% of germs to qualify as sanitizers.  Disinfecting is even a step above that. A disinfectant kills 100% of microbes. But, from what I’ve read about microbes, they’re a part of life. In fact, exposure to them might help strengthen our immune systems. Unless my husband and I worked in a hospital or chicken coop, where we risked bringing home germs like streptococcus on our clothing, I really don’t need to keep sanitizing surfaces in our home ten times a day the way I’ve been. Repeated exposure to anti-microbial cleaners isn’t good for us either.

But we do occasionally prepare raw meat, chicken, and fish, which can leave germs like salmonella on our kitchen counter. I also work with toddlers, so I need to sanitize the toys I use. And, let’s not forget our four animals, that can scamper through the doggie door with germs like E. coli on their paws. There are a few agents that the EPA says work well enough to kill those kinds of germs. Of them, bleach is considered the best. But the chemical can be hard on the environment and on people’s health. There are plant based options available, though. I’ll get into that next week.

Neither cleaner will remove mold. That’s another job for bleach. But if there’s a green alternative, I’d prefer to use it. I’ll find out about that for next week, too.

The smell of the vinegar is not for everyone.  My husband keeps repeating the same question every time he walks through the laundry room: “That smell doesn’t bother you?” I’ll admit, the lavender maybe takes the solution from having a very, very strong vinegar smell to just a very strong vinegar smell. It still makes my eyes tear. On the other hand, Dr. Bronner’s comes in pleasant smelling fragrances or fragrance free. I bought the peppermint-scented soap. It smells nice.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In my opinion both types of cleaning wipes work fine as alternatives to disposable ones for cleaning at home and each would be good to have around for different tasks. But if my husband really hates the smell of vinegar, the Dr. Bronner’s soap version can work anywhere and is excellent. (He said he would suffer the smell if it meant not spending big bucks on soap. What he doesn’t realize is, though vinegar is cheaper it can’t be used everywhere the way Dr. Bronner’s can. The way I see it, we’ll be saving money on Swiffer pads and cleaning wipes, so the cost will balance out.) I will need to look into some kind of green sanitizing agents for home and on the job, though. That’s my homework for next week’s post.

See you then!

 

 

 

 

Green Labels

Here’s something I wish I’d known about before having started this blog. There’s a database called  GoodGuide, which verifies the greenness of lots of companies. I stumbled upon it this past week, during my search for a green alternative to the disposable cleaning wipes my husband and I use.  Not long before that, I’d spent half an hour in the cleaning product section of Price Chopper comparing disinfecting wipe labels.  I realized then that the level of scrutiny needed to read between the lines there was enough to make me nauseas.

It would make things a lot easier on my journey towards a greener lifestyle imagesif I could rely on product labels. But, like with the organic food industry, where if a manufacturer uses a few organic ingredients it can label its products ‘organic’, a company can get away with printing ‘green’ on product labels by being just a little environmentally friendly.  Am I wrong for hating that I have to play super sleuth to figure out which ‘green’ products are truly green?

The other day I came home from Price Chopper with a brand of wipes called Sun & Earth in my 41MjBbWmHxL._AC_US160_reusable cloth shopping bag. It seemed like a great option. The wipes smelled like citrus and cleaned well enough. The label on them listed all  ingredients and shared the many ways in which they were environmentally safe, cruelty free, and safe to use. I didn’t stop with reading it, though. I went on the Sun and Earth‘s website and learned that the company had been in business since the 1980’s and had held an eco-conscious core value from the beginning. They also have lots of different cleaning products, some which Price Chopper carries! I was so ready to retire my magnifying glass and become a loyal customer.

But then I should have stopped there.

The thing is, I needed to find out if there were independent ratings or blog post reviews for Sun & Earth.  That’s when my Google search led me to GoodGuide, which will now be my go-to site for verifying green claims. GoodGuide scientists rate products on a 0 to 10 scale for health, environment, and social impact. They gave Sun & Earth  just 4’s for environment because of some ingredients and company practices. Off S & E’s label and website, I would never have guessed that.

Surprisingly, the cleaning wipes for Green Works, which is owned by Clorox received 7.5. Seventh Generation also scored well97-PRODUCT_01-754_814-1392313962869.  GoodGuide also gave high ratings to products from a soap company called Dr. Bronners, which, as I’ve since learned from my daughter, anyone who leads a green lifestyle knows about.

Dr. Bronner’s makes something called Castile soap: 41pLIP1lq8L-1._AC_US160_a plant-based soap that is safe for the planet and can be used for 14 different household and personal hygiene tasks, according to the company. Here’s the good news, (although my husband may not agree,) with Dr. Bronner’s we could potentially jump way ahead in terms of making our lives greener. We could use Dr. Bronner’s to wash our dishes, scrub our cars, clean our floors, do our laundry, wash our hands; all things for which we currently use products that are not environmentally friendly. We could even brush our teeth with it (although the thought of that makes me gag a little).  But what I’m most excited about right now is that I can use Dr. Bronner’s to make a solution for my own reusable cloth cleaning wipes. YAY! Click here to find out how.

So, I am officially turning in my sleuthing cap and leaving the green detective work to GoodGuideUnknown. I’d rather dress up in goggles and a lab coat anyway! For next week: DIY cleaning wipes, unless of course, I blow myself up.

 

 

 

 

A Shout-out to the NRDC!

My husband says I’m too over the top about toilet paper. He could be right. I’ve just spent hours driving myself crazy reading web articles on the topic because, while I’ve learned more than I’d wanted to about how bamboo or hemp or sugarcane are the greenest things since fresh air, I could find little about the environmental impact of processing these alternatives to wood fibers.  Plus, none of the articles have told me whether or not the bisphenol A (BPA) found in TP made from recycled products could hurt us.

So I emailed some of the toilet paper companies. Then, after no one got back to me –––no one––– I emailed the Natural Resource Defense Counsel. The NRDC is a non-profit organization that works to safeguard the earth––its people, its plants and animals and the natural system on which all life depends.  (I copied that off their website.) To be honest, I hadn’t expected to hear back from them either.

I was wrong.

That same day I received the nicest email from Samuel Wicks, the counsel’s Public Education Associate. In it he answered all of my questions in a very courteous and professional manner that made me feel as if he cared about how I’m trying to make my life greener one corner of one room at one time. He also included articles.

So here’s the short of it:

Are TPs made from raw materials other than wood actually greener?

Bamboo  is used to make a variety of things; including textiles and paper. For paper goods, it is pulped into fiber by way of either mechanical or chemical processing. As a Unknowngeneral rule, mechanical processing can be more costly, but is better for the environment. The chemical processing methods used can actually harm the planet. That said, most bamboo manufacturers claim to be green, but really aren’t, because they use chemicals to turn bamboo stalks into fiber.

Hemp is another alternative to wood for paper and according to some of the articles I’ve read, it is generally made using images chemicals that aren’t as harsh to the environment. Both hemp and bamboo are not grown in high enough quantities in the US, though. That means the raw materials for products made from them would have to be shipped in from other countries, like China. This not only makes them more expensive, but increases their negative impact on the planet.

Sugarcane is grown on this continent and turning it into paper isn’t a new idea. I found this nifty video on making sugarcane paper from back in the 1950’sUnknown-1 It’s about 2 minutes long. (Click the underlined sentence above to watch it.) My favorite part is when the narrator says that sugar is one of our most important foods! But it looks like chemicals are needed during various stages of processing that plant into fiber, too.

TP from post-consumer recycled paper is the safest bet for the environment in terms of use of resources and processing. Plus,   the NRDC has a list of green tissue products.  There are plenty to choose from. But with that, I’m back to the BPA conundrum.  The way I see it, I’m left with two options: I go TP golden birthdayparty essentials-2free, install a bidet and use wash clothes. This option would be by far the greenest. I hadn’t mentioned it because,  I don’t know what I would do with my husband then. Or, I could shrug off my concerns and return to plan A: TP made from recycled content.

How bad is BPA exposure really? 

The answer is, it all seems sort of speculative, with some people raising the roof with concerns and other saying: it’s not so bad.  But one thing is certain: almost all of us have been exposed for generations. I suppose then most folks (with the exception of ME) figure there’s no point in dwelling on it.

According to one of the articles Samuel had sent, 98% of our exposure to BPA comes from contact with #’s 3-7 plastics, anyway. I don’t know if that makes it all okay, but at least then only 2% of our exposure comes from using recycled paper products. And, with the latter, the powdered version of the chemical is not a coating on the surface, like it is when I take my receipt after the cashier at Price Chopper hands it to me.  It seems people who handle receipts frequently should be most concerned. But in terms of recycled paper, the traces of BPA powder are mixed in with the slurry before it’s even turned into TP or other products.

So, what’s my final answer?

My husband and I are going to stay with Marcal for now. But we do plan to try a few of the different brands of toilet paper from the NRDC list. Green Forest is said to be somewhat softer compared to most recycled based TPs. It also received high marks on Greenpeace USA’s list of green TP’s.  Unfortunately, it’s not available in our supermarket. But Marcal is!

With that, my husband will be very happy to hear that next week’s post will be about Clorox wipes.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to the NRDC, here’s the link to their website: https://www.nrdc.org

Toilet paper: My new worst nightmare!

imagesI’m not gonna lie. I’m a little freaked out by this whole BPA thing.  I’m about fifteen years late for being freaked out, but now that I’m here, there’s no turning back.  It seems Bisphenol-A has been used as a coating inside things like plastic baby bottles and cans for food and beverages since the 1960’s.  And, since it can leach into our food, that means when I was a baby I likely sucked BPA down with my formula. The first reports about how it might be bad for us came out in the 1990’s.

Guess I hadn’t been paying attention.

I wish I could return to those days when I was oblivious to how BPA, that little old endocrine-disruptor that can throw a person’s hormone-system out of whack, is floating around inside almost all of us. I wish I still had no clue about how it can cause things from reproductive problems to developmental delays to obesity to diabetes and so on and so forth. And, I so wish I hadn’t found out that, not only is theimages synthetic form of estrogen inside cans and plastic food containers, it’s on recycled paper products, like toilet paper, too!

Just a few days ago I felt like I’d won one for the environment after I’d convinced my husband to switch from Charmin to Marcal. It’s better for the planet, I said. It’s made with 100% recycled paper, I said.

Ugh!

The problem is that cash register receipts and other types of thermal paper get thrown in with paper recyclables, contaminating the whole lot with a powdered form of BPA. So now I’m not sure if switching to Marcal is the right move. I can only imagine what my husband will say when I break that to him. It took a lot of finessing on my part to get him to say yes to Marcal, which he did mostly so I’d stop talking about toilet paper. Now, not only am I not sure about switching, but we may have to rethink toilet paper entirely.  My biggest wish at the moment is that someone else give him that update.

dapperweddings.co.uk-3

My husband responded with a long sigh and then this: “Sounds like we’ve always been exposed to BPA. Is it really that big a deal?” He rested his arm on the banister atop the stairs to the loft, looking towards me and my desk and my opened laptop through the eyes of a guy who’d seen it all before.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“And yet you’re freaking out.”

He had a point. In fact, most toilet paper in public restrooms are made from post-consumer recyclables, which means most of us get a dose of it whenever we ‘go’ outside our homes. BPA has been detected in paper currency, too. With that, in addition to the #’s 3-7 plastic food containers that things like DD smoothies come in, there are more ways of being exposed to BPA, or its substitute, Bisphenol-S, (which, as it turns out, is no better,) than there are tweets by Donald Trump.

“Why don’t you just email Marcal and ask if their TP has BPA in it?”

“I did. They never got back to me.” I couldn’t hide my frustration.  “It really bothers me when companies don’t reply to my emails.”

“You’ve said.” From his grimace + head nod he had more sympathy for Marcal right then. “So, what are the alternatives? And before you even go there, we’re not stock piling corncobs!”

I laughed, although his somber expression said that he wasn’t joking. But he’d made me wonder: With all the corn fields around, why wouldn’t there be corn toilet paper. “They have TP made from bamboo, hemp, and sugarcane. It probably wouldn’t be that much of a leap.”

“Why do I even open my mouth?” The question seemed to have been directed at heaven, so I didn’t answer.

Before paper mills made toilet paper, people actually had used things like corncobs, stones, pages from the Sears and Roebuck catalog, and so on. (And we today think recycled-paper TP is rough.) When mills started making paper products for personal hygiene, they continued to use the wood pulp/reclaimed paper combo that they had for making printing paper and stationary. But these days with concerns over BPA and our vastly depleting forests, some companies have started making TP, tissues and such out of other materials. I don’t know whether choosing one raw material over another makes a company any greener. It’s on my list of things to find out. But at the moment I typed corn toilet paper into the search bar on my laptop and hit the return key, I felt the tingle of what might be a brilliant idea run through my finger tips.

My Google search came back with nothing.golden birthdayparty essentials

“Does that mean I’m the first person to think of it–––ever?”

“And you’re surprised?”

“Um…yeah! Aren’t you?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green TP is a No-Go

At some point during the night my husband set a roll of Marcal toilet paper on the closed lid of my laptop. I noticed it when I woke up at 6 a.m. I walked past my office, looked left and there is was; his thick &soft, 2-ply, 80% more sheets per roll line in the sand.

I have to say, up until that moment he’d been very supportive, not only of my blog, which he proofreads and says he likes, but also about my one-corner-of-one-room-at-one-time approach to making our lives greener. (I suppose he’s grateful I’m not doing it all at once.) He’s gotten into the habit of saying no to single-use plastic shopping bags, just like I have.  And, we now recycle everything our Waste Management Facility accepts; like IMG_1425plastic film packaging, cardboard-type material, whether its a brown box from Amazon, cereal box,  or TP and paper towel roll, as well as mail and office paper. He’s even made a handy rack for all our recycling bins that we keep in the garage. We now have eight.

But I guess for him at least, when it comes to going green, some things are off limits. That TP on my laptop was a loud and clear message to leave his Charmin alone!

The problem for me is that when I researched to find out whether Bounty was safe for the environment, I learned that Proctor & Gamble, the company that makes it, is doing things that harm our planet; like deforesting woodlands in Canada,  producing more carbon emissions and other harmful bi-products than it needs to, and using bleaching agents and chemicals that pollute our water ways. So, I decided then that if I knew a company was not taking steps to reduce its impact on Mother Earth, I’d avoid buying the stuff it puts out. P&G makes Bounty and Charmin.

So I now have to find a brand of TP that’s eco-friendly, cost friendly, AND soft. Luckily, the National Resource Defense Committee,  has a great list of planet-safe toilet paper brands. Unluckily, in researching some of these brands, I’ll be hard pressed to find one as GirlyGoingAwayPartysoft as Charmin. To make matters worse, I read in the Huffington Post that many brands of recycled toilet paper contain Bisphanal-A, or BPA; a chemical associated with health risks. (Thank you Huffington Post for adding to my parade of worries.)

How did BPA get into recycled toilet paper, you ask. If the reclaimed paper used by paper mills comes from cash register receipts and newspapers it’s likely contaminated with BPA. One BPA-free alternative  bathtissue_EMERALDis to use a TP not made from trees, like Emerald Bath Tissue, made from sugar cain. At almost 30 bucks for 15 rolls with shipping, I’m thinking that’s not the choice for us, however!

I read somewhere that Marcal does not use newspapers in it’s manufacturing. But it also doesn’t say BPA-free on its packaging. Does that mean it’s not BPA-free? I would think if it was, Soundview Paper Company, the manufacturer, would market it that way. But my odds are stacked against avoiding BPA anyway. According to the HP article most public restrooms use TP made from recycled content that is likely not BPA-free. BPA is probably a sealant in the cans of diced tomatoes we use weekly, too. So, does it matter if the toilet paper we use at home contains it? I’m not sure. I just know that I don’t feel right about buying Charmin anymore.