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Take the Toilet Paper Challenge: “Can You Spare a Square?”

Take the Toilet Paper Challenge: “Can You Spare a Square?”

In the 1990’s sitcom, Seinfeld, character Elaine Benes asks this question to her neighbor in a public restroom, and is outraged when her neighbor refuses to share. I was similarly stunned when I recently learned that in the year 2008, the US consumed approximately 7,170,261,504 rolls of toilet paper! That’s approximately 7,026,856 trees used to manufacture toilet paper alone and is significantly more than any other country in the world. Further more, Americans are demanding the crème-de-la-crème, softer-than-soft varieties which cannot be made from recycled paper. The negative impact this is having on our environment is clear, and for this reason, I beg of you, Can you spare a square??

While recycled toilet paper is less expensive to produce than “Ultra” varieties, according to the New York times, it makes up less than 2% of the US toilet paper’s consumption as compared with 20% in Europe and Latin America. Toilet paper producers such as Kimberly Clark and Proctor and Gamble insist that toilet paper is made primarily from saw dust and wood chips left over from other projects, but environmental agencies assert that in order to achieve ultra softness, companies must harvest old growth, killing off millions of trees and indigenous animal species. Furthermore, mainstream toilet paper manufactures use harsh, air-polluting chemicals to whiten their products.

Take the Toilet Paper Challenge: “Can You Spare a Square?”

(image of Kimberly Pulp Mill care of

The Keen For Green toilet paper challenge is simple: pledge to make a conscious decision to reduce your toilet paper trail. Do this by first switching to a recycled brand (I love Seventh Generation 100% Recycled Bathroom Tissue – it still has plenty of that quilting and softness we Americans seem to love). Next, decide how many squares you can spare. I have decided to cut the amount of TP I use in each sitting by half, but if for you cutting back by 1-2 squares is a big sacrifice, start there.

So far, my success has been limited – I usually remember my pledge only after pulling off a huge wad (and it doesn’t help that I’m 8 months pregnant and peeing every 7 minutes). But I am slowly seeing my habit change, and am confident that over the course of the next year I can decrease my toilet paper footprint by more than 50%.

Now it’s up to you: Can you spare a square?

Toilet Paper Challenge Resources:

Greenpeace list of approved products:

NY Times Article on TP consumption:


looking for ways to reduce paper toilet usage

I watched that episode of Seinfeld. Elaine was in the comfort room and she was asking another lady to give even just a square of toilt paper but she refused. She remembered that lady's voice and she could not hide her anger because she was not given that piece of tissue paper. Seriously, just jow much tissue paper does a person need if he/she only has to pee? People talk about waste reduction all the time but some of us take for granted that we actually save toilet paper usage as well. Factories making tissue make use of energy and if we do want to conserve the environment, we can do our simple part by being considerate in using tissue paper and other forms of paper in our homes and work place. It is not just toilet paper that needs to be practically consumed but all kinds of papers. There are companies that assist home and business owners in properly dosposing their documents before bringing them to landfills.

An Issue...

You don't often think about... Great post, very enlightening!

To much paper waste, and to

To much paper waste, and to much trees killed, is an exageration to use this ammount of paper just for have a clean ass, the recicled paper is not than bad, by the health of the eviroment the people must be less exigent with somehing like this.

aumentare il seno

Count Me In

Michelle, If you can make that sort of attempt and lead by example at eight-months pregnant (I hope your child's birth went well at this point and all are healthy), then I can certainly make an attempt at conserving TP as well. I like the title of your post as I'm sure many people are aware of that now famous line from Elaine. Thanks Blane at home whitening | whitening pen

Toilet Paper

It is amazing to think how much paper is wasted for this purpose alone. People often use way more then they need as well. Every little bit you can save helps the planet.

spare a square

Very good article. The numbers are staggering when they are printed right in front of you. Thank you for showing us that we all can make a difference. We are a manufacturer of biodegradable garbage bags & products. Our garbage bags biodegrade within 2 years without producing any toxins into the earth or environment. Come visit us at:

Thanks for this great article & share of information.

Agree with anonymous. Much

Agree with anonymous. Much cleaner when you wash than just purely using toilet paper and then just dry off with a small-sized towel! I've also seen wet toilet paper that's flushable too if you want to start transitioning with that smaller step to eliminating toilet paper use in your home.


i am definately going to take up this challenge

jen x

Toilet Paper vs. Bidet Sprayer Challenge

This covers all the bases = saves you money, helps the environment, helps your health, makes you feel better, it's so easy to do and it costs less than $50.00; Save money and the Earth and be clean at the same time! Add Bathroom Bidet Sprayers to all your bathrooms. I think Dr. Oz on Oprah said it best: "if you had pee or poop on your hand, you wouldn't wipe it off with paper, would you? You'd wash it off” Available at with these you won't even need toilet paper any more, just a towel to dry off! Don’t worry, you can still leave some out for guests and can even make it the soft stuff without felling guilty. It's cheap and can be installed without a plumber; and runs off the same water line to your toilet. You'll probably pay for it in a few months of toilet paper savings. And after using one of these you won't know how you lasted all those years with wadded up handfuls of toilet paper. As for water use a drought is always a concern and must be dealt with prudently but please remember that in the big picture the industrial water users always far exceed the water use of household users and in the case of toilet paper manufacture it is huge. The pollution and significant power use from that manufacturing process also contributes to global warming so switching to a hand bidet sprayer and lowering your toilet paper use is very green in multiple ways. Blog;

Not quite ready...

The bidet is a great alternative - I feel I am not quite ready to make a plunge.  I think it's important that people start by making manageable, small changes to their lifestyle.  My commitment is to start to reduce my toilet paper use by making small changes... check back in with me in a few years and maybe I'll be ready for the bidet!!

Hand Bidet Sprayers are Superior

Hey you don't need to wait to get a bidet, for under $50.00 you can get a Hand Bidet Sprayer at and install it without a plumber. And it works better than a bidet. 

Also, another good source of info...

... is  I have done a past blog on it and it really takes in so much information to help make good decisions about our consumption, but they don't yet have toliet paper. 

Sean Fitzpatrick is a burgeoning green entrepreneur and journalist with a juris doctor from Santa Clara University, School of Law. Currently, he is business development and community manger of

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