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Everyone poops. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about toilet paper. Specifically, 100% recycled toilet paper.

Three TP posts came across my desk this morning:

1. From Treehugger.com, a new WWF report on how U.S. consumer buying decisions are reducing habitat for critically endangered Indonesian tigers.  Read it.

2. Find out about Moka, a new 100% post-consumer non-bleached toilet paper that speaks to the forward-looking “dark green” consumer who thinks that “Beige is the New Green.”  Plus, the WSJ’s take on the trend.

3.Via EnvironmentalLeader.com major retailers including Kmart and Krogers are dropping products that originate from the tigers’ habitat.  WWF is urging retailers to monitor and audit their supply chains from forest to tree to pulp to paper…and onto supermarket shelves.

(Before we go any farther, let me be clear. I’m all for toilet paper. Just better toilet paper.)

We all know that non-recycled paper comes from trees. A lot of trees. We’ve gotten comfortable with recycled paper products like copy paper and grocery bags. But toilet paper? Now you’re getting personal.

Exactly. It’s personal, in the best sense of backing up our values with our dollars. That’s the ideal. Here in the the real post-recession world, purchasing decisions are also made on whether an item is easy, cheap and good. So let’s take a look.

Easy? Yes. One hundred percent recycled toilet paper is readily available from leading brands like Marcal at Wal-Mart, all major supermarkets, Staples and bulk shopping clubs.

Cheap? A fellow traveler did the math. She argues heavily for the less-is-more strategy, but even if you are a profligate TP-er, the difference in price does not rise to the level of break the bank.

Good? This one comes down to personal preference. We all have our bottom-lines but new 100% recycled products are light-years better than a decade ago. NRDC has a helpful chart to evaluate recycled paper choices.

Buying recycled toilet paper is not going to grow new tiger habitat overnight, but small actions by many add up. Go buy it.

And if you told your kids that it’s between stripey tigers or snowy-white TP, I’d bet on the tigers every time.

We’re halfway there

On Feb. 2, prognosticating rodents are hauled out of hutches and held high, their gloved handlers grasping them tightly around their furry mid-sections. Assembled crowds will wait to see if the groundhog casts a shadow, thus sealing our fate for six more weeks of winter or granting us an early spring reprieve.

The modern celebration of Groundhog Day, for all its silliness, coincides with solemn faith tradition observances including the Catholic celebration of Candlemas and the Wiccan observance of Imbolc. For me, it marks the half-way point on the gardening calendar between the darkest night of the year — the Winter Solstice — and spring’s official start on the Vernal Equinox.

We’ve been enjoying some unseasonably mild temperatures, but the real story is more sunlight. Six weeks ago, on the Winter Solstice, sunset was at 4:30 p.m. Today, it is at 5:15 p.m. The midday sun appears a few degrees higher in the sky and feels warmer on my face. We’re picking up one more minute of sunlight daily. That rate will double to two minutes daily by the end of February.

A gardener friend told me about her grandmother’s traditional Groundhog Day garden walk, during which her grandmother would “wake up” the trees and plants with a gentle tap from her walking stick. When I heard this folk tradition, it made sense to me as gardener wisdom. Inspecting each plant and tree carefully gives the gardener opportunity to observe disease or damage and make plans for pruning, repairing or transplanting.

Groundhog Day also ushers in the sugaring season, when maple trees (other tree species work too) can be tapped with a spigot and the flowing sap collected with no injury to the tree. It’s nice to imagine that a hard rap could wake up a sleeping tree and make the tree’s sap drip faster. The truth is that sap flow is triggered by increased sunlight plus warmer days and cold nights. Maple sap looks and tastes like water, with only the slightest hint of sweetness. It takes about 40 gallons of collected sap boiled down to produce one gallon of syrup. I’m looking forward to helping some friends tap their maple trees this month.

Groundhog Day is a time to spot spring harbingers. There might be early-blooming hellebores, snowdrops or early crocus varieties to see in sunny wind-protected spots. Along my neighbor’s driveway, a witch hazel bush has tight, swelling buds that will unfurl into red, finger-like petals during sunny February days and curl back into a protective bud at night. If you look carefully, some maple trees already sport a red haze on their crown.

I’ll bring my garden notebook out to the yard this week and take a fresh look at each tree, bush and plant. I might even give them a rap with a stick.

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”–Attributed to Yogi Berra

A new UN report offers a blueprint with specific recommendations for moving best practices for sustainable development into active economic policy.

This is how we get there.

The 22-member Panel, established by the Secretary-General in August 2010 to formulate a new blueprint for sustainable development and low-carbon prosperity, was co-chaired by Finnish President Tarja Halonen and South African President Jacob Zuma. The Panel’s final report, “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing”, contains 56 recommendations to put sustainable development into practice and to mainstream it into economic policy as quickly as possible.

Read “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing”

 

Does a company’s green practices factor into what you buy? What matters most to you? As a business owner, has being green helped you grow your business?

I try to consider my “5 Cs”: concern, convenience, community, conservation and cost.

I’d love to hear your thoughts for an upcoming presentation I’m writing.

Links to spark your thinking:

Via Smartplanet.com:

Will benefiting society benefit your company’s profit?

Via EPA.gov:

Are Green Businesses More Likely to Attract Your Green?

Via Treehugger.com:

Walmart Wants To Start A Conversation On Sustainability With Its New Green Blog

Via Economist.com:

Firms With Benefits (Patagonia Pioneers B Corp Sustainability Status) 

What does a Sustainable Business look like? It’s a business that considers the environmental, social, and economic impacts of business actions and decisions. Read about the U.S. EPA’s path towards greener business practices, including an excellent chapter on the history of the Sustainability movement, in a new report. Tree-Free Download.  (Now that’s Green!)

How do the three sustainability pillars–environmental, social and economics impacts–factor into your business’ operations and bottom line?