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Toilet paper is a slightly uncomfortable topic, but it's something we need to talk about. We use a lot of paper products in the United States, but due to the rise of technology, individuals and major companies have started to use less of it. However, toilet paper usage remains unchanged (50 lbs per person annually, if you were wondering). Why? Because nobody thinks hard about toilet paper, even though it is an item everyone uses daily. We need toilet paper and toilet paper is made from trees. That's just how it is.
But it doesn't have to be.
As we're discovering every day in this world, there are better alternatives for resources we are currently using. Electric cars, for example, are better for the environment than gasoline, and unlike fossil fuels, electricity offers a limitless supply of energy. In much the same way, using hemp toilet paper instead of the usual paper product would be more beneficial for both the population and the environment.
We're running out of trees.
You've been hearing about it for decades now, yet still not much has changed in the way of deforestation and paper production. As we increase our usage of digital technology, we forge a path toward paperless-ness, but there are some products that just can't be digitized, i.e. toilet paper.
But any first grader knows that we need trees to breathe. And trees, unlike the hemp plant, take hundreds of years to grow. As we use more paper product, we chip away at the world's supply of trees before they have a chance to grow back. So since trees are so vital to oxygen production and to our survival, at some point we will be forced to find an alternative. That alternative can be put into effect sooner rather than later—if major toilet paper manufacturers embrace the hemp plant as their main resource.
The typical argument against using hemp products (like hemp toilet paper) is that hemp is less cost-effective than paper products. However, using the hemp plant as a replacement resource would be economical in its own way.
According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, hemp crops can reach their full growth potential between 70 and 140 days. Using hemp plant instead of paper made from trees would make for a much faster turnover. It would theoretically be much more reasonable for someone to keep planting hemp seeds on a tri-monthly basis than to cut down trees that take hundreds of years to grow.
Yes, you can find it.
Even if you do support the switch from paper product to hemp toilet paper, you might not do it. There are a lot of people out there who would like to make more moral choices when it comes to the products they buy, but they find it too inconvenient. Vegan makeup and food products are harder to come by in stores, for example, than big name, commonly purchased brands. But don't forget, we live in the marvelous age of the internet.
No, you probably won't be able to find hemp toilet paper at your local grocery store as of right now. However, you can do what you do for almost everything else in your life and go shopping online. Asian countries have taken to selling the product, so it can be found!
What's the hold up?
Other nations, such as China for example, have embraced using hemp toilet paper. The United States has not yet introduced the concept into the mass market because U.S. companies hesitate to abandon their long-standing business models. (And, let's be honest, anything hemp-related gives reason for pause in this country.)
As more states begin to legalize marijuana, however, the overall attitude towards hemp products in the U.S. may change. Once major toilet paper manufacturers begin to understand that hemp can actually be profitable, they might begin to make the switch. It's just a matter of who dares to do it first.
Until then, think about how you can reduce the use of paper products in your everyday life—starting with toilet paper.