The Issue with Tissue
First, virgin pulp used to make all kinds of paper and tissue products contributes to deforestation. Secondly, recycled pulp has been found to be tainted with micrograms of Bispenol A from other sources. For tissue we flush, rapidly renewable bamboo is a practical option to the recycled variety. Especially when researchers at Dresden University concluded in a 2008 study that recycled content toilet paper was the source of BPA contamination in tap water and recommended that recycled content not be used for products that are flushed or composted.
As population grows and consumption increases, it is essential to find renewable alternatives for tree pulp based materials like tissue. Ordinary trees have to be cultivated from seedlings, and need to grow for several decades to produce timber. The trees are cut and then new trees have to be planted again as seedlings to create a new forest. Bamboo re-grows rapidly into a forest by reproducing itself and does not need to be replanted.
Today’s Weeds Can Become Tomorrow’s Most Valuable Resources
Today bamboo, the world’s fastest growing grass, is worth considering as an alternative to traditional slow-growing timber for pulp used to make tissue. Bamboo’s contribution to offset the burden that trees bear from providing so many goods and products could have a positive impact on climate change resilience and restoration.
Bamboo as a trending alternative holds the promise of a sustainable and ecologically benign option to widespread clear-cutting of old growth forests and diminishing timber resources.
As Barbara Ward wrote, “We have forgotten how to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as its other creatures do.” If we are reluctant to decrease our consumption of certain products, perhaps bamboo may just be the resource that we can call on to help us walk a little lighter.
Sonja Sheasley is an Honorary Council Member of World Bamboo Organization and Founder of Bum Boosa® Bamboo Products, the first company to bring bamboo wet wipes and bathroom tissue to the US market.