By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Greenpeace, guardian of oceans and forests, has reissued its Recycled Tissue and Toilet Paper Guide to help people make the switch to recycled paper.

The newly updated pocket guide endorses brands such as Green Forest, Earth Friendly, Natural Value and Seventh Generation, which are made of recycled paper.

It recommends that shoppers avoid products such as Kleenex, Cottonelle, Charmin, Angel Soft, Bounty, Brawny and the Target and Wal-Mart house brands because they are not made from recycled wood products.

Using recycled personal paper products can make an impressive impact in curbing global warming, according to Greenpeace, among others — far greater than one might suspect from contemplating the lowly roll of toilet paper.

Greenpeace reports that Americans could save 400,000 trees if every family replaced just one regular roll of TP with a recycled one. Imagine if more people switched over completely to recycled brands. Untold acres of carbon-absorbing, life-sustaining forests could be saved.

Even if Greenpeace’s calculations are off-the-mark, consumers could still wield impressive sway in saving forests by ditching conventional paper products.

Mainstream paper companies have responded to deforestation concerns by turning to wood from sustainably managed forests, which require them to harvest according to guidelines that preserve the forest and provide for replanting.

Advocates, though, worry that even these sustainable practices still winnow trees for throwaway paper products.

Greenpeace’s position is that paper companies should get their wood fibers from post-consumer wood or paper waste, or failing that, from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forests and tree farms. Companies should not use wood from old-growth forests, a practice that’s slowing, but has not stopped.

For its guide, Greenpeace eschewed paper products that were made from virgin wood fibers, and gave improved rankings based on how much of the product came from post-consumer waste. It also looked at whether the paper was bleached using chlorine, a process that pollutes groundwater, lakes and streams. It suggested that consumers look for products that are made of 100 percent overall recycled content, a minimum of which is 50 percent post-consumer recycled content.

It’s an attainable goal: Green Forest, the top TP pick, is made from 100 percent recycled fibers, 90 percent of which are post-consumer waste, meaning this paper is truly on its second incarnation. By contrast, several TPs in the “avoid” category contain no recycled or post-consumer content. In other words, they might be Angel Soft, but they’re not green.