13 Facts about Home Paper Products that May Inspire You to Hug a Tree

Toilet paper and other home paper products aren’t necessarily great party conversation starters. But with their impact on the environment, we should find a way to work these topics in so they become top of mind.

I recently spent a week at fellow green diva Meg’s house and was inspired by the toilet paper. Inspired.

The rolls of toilet paper didn’t have a cardboard tube. I purchase only recycled toilet paper to save trees and lighten my environmental footprint (no, not recycled as in already used, silly! I’m talking about toilet paper made from recycled paper) but had never seen toilet paper sans cardboard tube. So I became curious about the positive impact of eliminating (pardon the pun) the cardboard.

Listen to this Green Divas at Home segment then read on for more crazy stats!

Now for the 13 crazy (and some not so crazy) facts about paper home paper products & recycling

  1. If every household in the United States replaced just one roll of virgin fiber paper towels (70 sheets) with 100 percent recycled ones, we could save 544,000 trees.
  2. If every household in the United States replaced just one roll of virgin fiber toilet paper (500 sheets) with 100 percent recycled ones, we could save 423,900 trees.
  3. Over 17 billion toilet paper tubes are thrown away each year. That’s enough to fill the Empire State Building. Twice.
  4. If every household in the United States replaced just one package of virgin fiber napkins (250 count) with 100 percent recycled ones, we could save 1 million trees
  5. Every minute, Americans throw away 32,280 toilet paper tubes.
  6. Almost 270,000 trees are either flushed or dumped in landfills every day… 10 percent of that total is attributable to toilet paper (but I’m not sure how much of that are the actual toilet paper cardboard rolls. Plenty, I’m sure.
  7. Toilet tissue accounts for 15 percent of deforestation.
  8. We throw away enough paper to make toilet paper for a lifetime.
  9. Every day, over 3,000 tons of paper towel waste is produced in the US alone.
  10. To make one ton of paper towels, 17 trees are cut down and 20,000 gallons of water are consumed.
  11. Decomposing paper towels produce methane gas. Methane gas is a leading cause of global warming.
  12. The average person uses 2,400 – 3,000 paper towels at work, in a given year.
  13. One ton of recycled paper (909 kilograms) saves 3,700 pounds (1,682 kilograms) of lumber and 24,000 gallons (90,849 liters) of water; uses 64 percent less energy and 50 percent less water to produce creates 74 percent less air pollution; saves 17 trees; and creates five times more jobs than one ton of paper products from virgin wood pulp. And Pulp and paper industries are the third largest industrial emitter of pollution!

Bottom line (again, sorry for the pun). None of us are perfect. I, myself, was a paper towel addict in a former lifetime (stay tuned for a blog post about my recovery). But if we can just cut back and work towards using recycled paper products, the planet will be in better shape. You never know… a tree might just hug you back!

What you can do:

  1. Check out NRDC’s shopper’s guide to shop smarter for home paper products—vote with your dollars!
  2. Go for recycled or reusable paper products like People Towels.
Published on: January 06, 2015
About the Author
Photo of Lynn Hasselberger
Lynn is The Green Divas Managing Editor and Producer of the GD Radio Show and GDGD Radio Network. She's also a mom, writer who blogs at myEARTH360.com and LynnHasselberger.com. You can find Lynn on Facebook and Twitter@LynnHasselbrgr @myEARTH360 & @GreenDivaLynn where she Posts Tweets to make the world a better place

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Recent Comments

Can you share the original sources for this information? Thanks!

Sorry, people are majorly misinformed. Paper is actually not made from entire trees. All sizable wood is used for lumber and furniture. Only tree tops and hollow logs are used for paper. thanks to wise paper users, the world stays clean due to tree tops cleaned up by paper demand. PLEASE THINK GREEN AND USE MORE PAPER.!!!!!

I personally have limited use of paper towels in my home and replaced with kitchen towels of various sizes. I am lucky though because I also make kitchen towels for a living, so I have stacks of towels to pick up every spill, stain, scrub off grime. I would like be able to equate kitchen towels to the reduced usage of paper towels on my packaging to create the awareness, but I do not know where I can get information that is legally substantiated or is a legitimate source. Can you please tell me how to go about this?
I am also researching and trying to switch to organic cotton instead of currently mass produced cotton as well to reduce the impact of cotton production.

Yes, using water with hand jet spray is a perfect example for substitute to Tissue paper roll. It is largely used in India, and I think it is also more hygiene than tissue paper.

Hi ,

This is just a suggestion ….

I’m not an American, , but did Live for 3 years in the united states . i have seen you cannot stop use of paper unless it is a parental training at home . If parents stop and what they practice can be communicated down their progeny.

I suggest the smart toilets or a kind of hand shower to be used before a toilet tissue is used.
This can reduce usage. No doubt water is messy.But it is a learned habit.


We help save paper products by using cloth napkins. We help save water by using napkin rings with names on them so we can use the cloth napkins several times before washing. It works very well for our family.

Note: I am the co-founder of DrGreene.com, but I am not Dr. Greene and I am not a doctor. Please keep that in mind when reading my comments and replies.