Thanks to decades of marketing, including 21 years of Mr Whipple squeezing the Charmin, the United States leads the world in toilet paper usage. Americans, who make up 4% of the world’s population, use 20% of the world’s toilet paper. Fortune says the $31 billion “tree-to-toilet” pipeline is dominated by P&G, Kimberly-Clark, and Georgia-Pacific, whose products graded “F” in ecological assessments.
Fortune got their story from the National Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group concerned with deforestation and the destruction of ecosystems. In a recent report, the NRDC urged the U.S. toilet paper industry to switch to recycled content and alternate fiber sources to halt the devastation of Canadian forests. Industry sources say virgin softwoods are needed to produce the softness and luxury favored by Americans. According to the Fortune story, the U.S. uses 9 billion pounds of toilet paper a year, or nearly 30 pounds per person, which averages to about three rolls a week per person.
The Federalist’s Kyle Sammin says “Fortune magazine’s toilet paper numbers are full of crap.”
Sammin, suspecting that Fortune failed to fact-check their figures, found they passed along unchecked the numbers published by the NRDC in their study. A closer look at the report produced by research vendor Statistica showed their footnotes cited a baseline assumption of 90 grams per roll.
MIT’s website says the average roll weighs 227 grams.
MIT weight-per-roll numbers convert to 56 rolls per year per person, or about one a week. This is only one-third of the usage numbers claimed in the press release and by most publications citing it. At work here is the phenomenon we see all too often – organizations using accidentally- or deliberately- skewed data to make their point, with no effort made to check the authenticity of the “facts.”
NPR says an Oklahoma minister, preaching on how humans don’t interact the way they used to, said “We don’t even go to stores. we just say, ‘Alexa, order toilet paper.’”
A parishioner was at home listening to the service online. So was Alexa, who ordered 60 rolls.
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