Choose the right tissue paper

Home tissue products have long been made from virgin fibre (IE straight from the tree; zero percent recycled).  That means we have cut LOTS of trees to make napkins, paper towels, facial tissue and bathroom tissue, which are designed to be used once and then trashed or flushed.  Even today, several leading brands of tissue products are still 100% virgin fibre.  Arg – we are flushing trees down the toilet.

Fortunately, the market is changing: many paper companies have started offering tissue products that contain recycled paper.  You can help speed up that market change (and save a tree) by choosing recycled tissue products the next time you shop.  Look for the recycled logo, and aim for as high a percentage of post-consumer content as possible.

Click here for more background on this issue (dated but good information).  Click here (for Canada) and here (for US) to see how some popular brands stack up.

Why not plant a tree this week?

Trees are nature’s carbon dioxide sponges: as they grow, they inhale CO2 and lock it up semi-permanently into wood and roots.  It’s said that a single tree can absorb up to a tonne of emissions over its lifetime.

If you aspire to live a carbon-neutral lifestyle, make trees a part of your solution.  A typical Canadian household has emissions of over 20 tonnes a year, which can be offset by planting 20 trees annually.

Sort of – because there are two catches.  First, notice that’s 20 trees annually, to offset 20 tonnes of annual emissions.  Secondly, trees do lock up CO2 for a long time, but not permanently, because most of that CO2 is emitted back into the atmosphere when a tree dies and rots.

So the best strategy toward carbon neutrality starts with reducing our emissions by consuming less fossil fuel.  But when we’ve made our carbon footprint as small as possible, the next best thing is to offset the remainder – and that’s where planting trees comes in.  May, the month of returning life, is the perfect time.  June 5-11 is Canadian Environmental Week, with the theme, “Preserving our forests – protecting our future”.

You can obtain plenty of free tree seedlings in roadside ditches everywhere.  You can find great resources and information at Tree Canada.

Why not unpamper your lawn?

Lawns have a significant carbon footprint.  Sure, they absorb a small amount of CO2 from the air as they grow, but that’s far less than the emissions produced by fertilizing, watering and mowing them.  Nitrogen fertilizer – the stuff used to speed up greening – is derived directly from natural gas, as are many pesticide products.  It takes energy to pump water.  Mowers take fuel.  If not left on the lawn, clippings take energy to transport.  If they end up in a landfill, they end up emitting methane as they rot.

So – why not consider unpampering your lawn this year?  No fertilizer (or maybe a sprinkling of fine compost instead, and leave the clippings); no pesticides; and as little water as possible.  It may grow a little slower, but that means less mowing – not so bad either!