The effects of climate change are becoming more severe, with wildfires and hurricanes becoming more common, but some American companies remain complicit as they continue to degrade one of our most valuable and promising natural climate solutions, which is the boreal forests. The boreal forest, which circles the Northern hemisphere, is a ring of pines, firs, and spruce. carbon-rich ecosystem on Earth. Canada’s boreal forest covers more land than any other country. 1 billion acresMaking it the largest intact forestKeeping our planet in good health.
The Canadian boreal forests are home to an incredible ecosystem It’s a refugeFor such species as caribous, cougars, and grizzly bes, whose habitats are further south. Billions of birds. Nearly halfMost avian species in North America breed in the boreal and fly southward each winter to our backyards or parks. These ecosystems have been a balance for Indigenous Peoples. for millenniaStewardship of the land is as important as their dependence on it for sustenance.
Photo credit: Ethan Gosnell. Flickr CC-BY-SA 2.0
However, Canada’s boreal is being reduced at an annual rate of One million acres per annumEach minute, that’s 1.5 football fields worth. Many of these trees are logged and pulped into paper towels, tissue, and toilet paper that can be sold in the United States. It’s a horrendous way of managing trees that have grown for centuries and are then destroyed in hours. Then, they are made into products that are only used for seconds. The boreal is degraded by logging. The rich soil and peatlands, which have been storing carbon for centuries, are destroyed. On average, the boreal’s degradation results in a loss of around 26 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxideThe amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere each and every year is approximately equivalent to the emissions from 5.5 million passenger cars per year. Despite claims to the contrary No amount of saplings will do.The damage to the climate caused by the clear-cutting of the boreal can be offset by planting in the graveyards.
The solution is easy: Reduce the amount logging in the boreal rainforest. Paper production does not require trees. Companies can reduce their dependence on trees and reduce their waste by using recycled materials to create paper products. Alternative materials can also be used to make paper products. These include certified sustainable bamboo, wheat straws, hemp, and cotton. Many companies already sell paper products made with 100% recycled materials or Bamboo and have been awarded high sustainability scores on the annual NRDC Issue With Tissue Scorecard.
These alternatives are not always possible. The majorityThe at-home tissue market is dominated largely by brands that heavily rely upon virgin forest fibers. These are fibers made from fresh trees. Trees belong in forests, not in toilets. We asked Amazon, Costco, Procter & Gamble, Procter & Gamble, Costco, Procter & Gamble to reduce the pressure on all forests, especially the boreal forest, by using less virgin wood pulp and more sustainable paper products in their tissue and paper products.
Logging operation in boreal forest. Photo credit: River Jordan (NRDC).
We asked tissue product manufacturers to increase the percentage of forest-free fibers in their products by at least 50% by 2025. We asked the companies to ensure that their wood-pulp suppliers only develop Indigenous territory, if required. Free, informed, prior consentA stipulation for Indigenous and forest-dependent communities that ensures that decisions about what happens on their land are made by those most likely to be directly affected.
Kimberly-Clark is the producer of Kleenex and Scott. These brands have made commitments which outperform all their competitors, including a pledge that they will reduce their natural forest footprint 50% by 2025. They are incorporating more alternative and repurposed fibers into their tissue products. Although it’s not as ambitious, it’s an incremental step towards protecting forests.
It is time for the top tissue and toilet paper retailers in our countries to show a commitment to their customers and communities. Amazon, Costco, Procter & Gamble, Georgia-Pacific, and Costco must all agree that we need to protect our forests.