Consumption of tissue paper, namely toilet paper, has surpassed the use of newsprint in the U.S., according to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal. In 2011, Americans went through nearly 8 million tons of tissue, compared with less than 4 million tons of newsprint. In 2000, newsprint still had a decided edge, 10 million to 7 million.
The rise of digital media is the obvious factor. (In the iconic image, it's no longer the morning news that dad is reading on the loo, but rather a tablet computer). Attitudes toward recycling could also be at play, however. In a recent survey about paper consumption by Nitro, 48 percent of Americans said they are willing to reduce their use of newspapers, but just 6 percent said they are willing to use less toilet paper.
Hence the rise of recycled toilet paper. If Americans won't use less toilet paper, perhaps they can use less virgin content. In Consumer Reports' current toilet paper test, which is nearly finished, we've included several recycled products. In the past, recycled toilet paper hasn't been as soft as conventional products in our tests, so we're paying close attention to that attribute. While virgin toilet paper still seems to be softest, there are signs of incremental progress with the recycled options. When we have the final results, we'll let you know.
Here's one thing we can tell you now. If helping the environment is your top concern, choose toilet paper that’s made with the highest possible percentage of post-consumer fibers recovered from paper that would otherwise end up in the landfill. And steer clear of recycled products that have been bleached white, since the chlorine used in the process can pollute air and water.