How many trees are cut down each day & year?

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According to the science journal Nature, approximately 42 million trees are cut down each day (or 15 billion trees each year). Thomas Crowther of the Institute of Ecology, Wageningen, Netherlands, who conducted this research emphasised how the “scale of human impact” on global tree destruction is “astonishing”.

It is estimated that the global number of trees has fallen by appromiately 46% in comparison to pre-agricultural activities (i.e. the start of human civilisation) around 12,000 years ago. Continuing to cut down so many trees on an annual basis is simply not sustainable. 

Trees play a vital role within the environment in the form of:

– Providing oxygen

– Helping to store carbon

– Helping to stabilize the soil 

– Provide essential wood supplies

Trees, the earth’s biggest plants, also help to absorb pollution from the air (it is estimated that just one tree has the capacity to absorb up to 1.7 kg of pollutants each year). Trees can also provide protection against solar radiation.

trees on hill

Are the Amazon trees the ‘lungs of the planet’?

According to Philippe Ciais, a researcher at the Climate Change Research Unit of the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace (IPSL), “saying that the Amazon produces 20% of our oxygen is a bit exaggerated, it’s more like 10 to 12% because the photosynthesis generated in the oceans also contributes to the planet’s oxygen production.”

This is the case since the trees in the Amazon actually consume almost all of the oxygen that they produce as a result of photosynthesis, i.e. the process of transforming light energy into chemical energy in order to fuel organism activities.

How many trees are cut down for toilet paper?

According to the National Geographic, each day, almost “270,000 trees are either flushed or dumped in landfills”. It is estimated that approximately 10% of this number (i.e. 27,000 trees) is attributable to toilet paper use.

According to author Noelle Robbins, “increasing demand for toilet paper in developing countries is a critical factor in the impact that toilet paper manufacturers have on forests around the world.”

What are the eco-friendly alternatives to conventional toilet paper?

According to Backpacker, conventional toilet paper made from virgin trees can take between one to three years to decompose. Biodegradable toilet paper options such as bamboo toilet paper have the capacity to break decompose up to four times faster than conventional toilet paper.

Alternative environmentally friendly toilet paper materials include:

  • Bamboo toilet tissue
  • 100% organic cotton
  • 100% recycled bathroom tissue
  • Sugarcane toilet tissue

For the eco extremists out there, other options include:

  • Old newspapers
  • Leaves 
  • Cotton wool
  • Stones (used in times gone by by the Romans and Greeks! – Warning, make sure to sterilize between usages) 
  • With strong enough water pressure, one can shower directly after using the toilet to avoid toilet paper usage altogether

Existing ‘mainstream’ toilet paper brands ranked on the basis of eco-friendliness:

toilet paper brands bad for environment
Source: NRDC

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