by Brenda Johnson Kame’enui

Boreal forests comprise the ring of green around the northern edge of our planet, home to caribou, martens, lynx, moose, and other forest-dwelling creatures that rely on the pristine forests for survival, along with birds. A billion migratory birds that fly across North American skies depend on the Canadian boreal for nesting. The trees, soils, and wetlands of the boreal store about 12% of the world’s carbon. Over 600 indigenous communities have called the Canadian Boreal home for centuries, each with generations of knowledge and wisdom about the forests.

In the twenty years since I first learned about Canada’s old growth boreal forest, an area the size of Pennsylvania has been cut down for toilet paper. In the time it takes you to brush your teeth tonight, Canada’s boreal forest will lose three football fields of trees. I like Costco as much as the next person for convenience and certain items (while I dislike the excess I sometimes succumb to). When I learned Costco continues to log pristine boreal forest for its Kirkland brand toilet paper, I stopped chuckling about pandemic hoarding of the fluffy stuff.

Despite alerts to the hazards of denuding the boreal, Costco continues to receive straight “F” scores in Natural Resource Defense Council’s (NRDC’s) annual Issue with Tissue scorecard. The products are made from 100% virgin forest fiber and lack Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. FSC works to minimize logging impact on species and climate. In addition, virgin pulp, source of the softest tissue, is made with toxic chemicals bad for humans and the environment.

While Kirkland is not the only offender, I use it as illustration because toilet paper is Costco’s best-selling product (a billion rolls a year). Proctor & Gamble, Georgia-Pacific, and Kimberly-Clark (i.e., Charmin, Angel Soft, Cottonelle, Brawny, Bounty, Kleenex, Quilted Northern, and Viva) all received “F” on NRDC’s sustainability scorecard.

Reader: I sometimes lift information from trusted sites without using quotes. Sources: Environment America; NRDC; Cloud Paper Co.