Is Charmin toilet paper endangering the caribou?
Is Charmin toilet paper endangering the caribou?
Monday May 06, 2019

Our rather banal roll of Charmin toilet paper is hiding a dark secret of forest destruction. It’s a secret that connects the last stretches of boreal forest and its unique web of life to the survival of the remaining herds of woodland caribou. 

Toilet paper manufacturers like Charmin continue to source a substantial portion of their raw material from pulp suppliers, who in turn source their fiber by destroying the Canadian boreal. Unfortunately clearcutting the boreal destroys one of the primary food sources of woodland caribou –– arboreal lichen. Arboreal lichen is a highly nutritious symbiotic combination of fungi and algae that grows only on mature trees. 

Because caribou depend on arboreal lichen as a food source the destruction of primary forest creates a dangerous situation for its survival. Especially during the breeding season, this supports the survival of the herd. Arboreal lichen grows on mature coniferous trees and that is why maintaining primary forest in their pristine state is so critical to the survival of this iconic species. 

The average caribou eats 3kgs of vegetation a day, most of it being arboreal lichen. After forests are cleared and replanted, new second-growth trees do not provide the level of lichen that large numbers of woodland caribou need to survive and thrive. Today, only 14 of the 51 surviving caribou herds have sufficient population numbers to be considered self-sustaining in perpetuity. That means, unless we change course, two-thirds of boreal caribou herds are headed for extinction.

Procter & Gamble’s flagship toilet paper brand Charmin makes its toilet paper from pulp, of which a significant portion is sourced from primary forests. Stand Research group in collaboration with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) conducted an in-depth study that revealed Charmin is buying its pulp from suppliers who are contributing to the clear-cutting of primary boreal forest, which also overlaps with caribou ranges.

The U.S. tissue market generates $31 billion in revenue every year, second only to China, and Americans, who make up just over 4 percent of the world’s population, account for over 20 percent of global tissue consumption. Much of the tissue pulp in the United States comes from the boreal forest in Canada. This vast landscape of coniferous, birch, and aspen trees contains some of the last of the world’s remaining intact forests and is home to over 600 Indigenous communities, as well as boreal caribou, pine marten, and billions of songbirds. The amount of carbon stored in boreal forests is equivalent to 36 years of global emissions from fossil fuels. is asking Charmin’s parent company Procter & Gamble  to ensure :

  • That their fiber sourcing does not  impact Indigenous peoples’ traditional lands without their consent, 
  • is not originating from endangered forests or threatened species’ habitat.
  • To start using recycled and alternative fiber as a significant portion of the pulp in their tissue product.

You can help by signing a petition to Procter & Gamble asking them to take action immediately, help save the world’s last boreal forests and the home of woodland caribou.