American brands like Charmin are making consumers unwittingly complicit in the destruction of Canada’s boreal forest—we are literally flushing it down the toilet when we use their toilet paper. Unfortunately, Procter & Gamble, the maker of Charmin, refuses to stop making its toilet paper from intact boreal forests, which has dire impacts on the global climate, treasured wildlife, and the ways of life of Indigenous Peoples. That is why I’m in Cincinnati right now to make sure their senior leadership and board hear the call from 116 organizations and hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens at their shareholder meeting this morning.
Charmin, along with many other major toilet paper brands, earned an F in NRDC and Stand.earth’s scorecard back in February, along with many other major toilet paper manufacturers. The fact that these brands of toilet paper—a product that is used for seconds and then flushed down the toilet—are fueling the destruction of the boreal forest is an absurd tragedy of our modern age. Despite many efforts to work with P&G to reform their policies, they continue to make their toilet paper from 100% virgin forests, and are the largest purchaser of boreal tissue pulp in the United States.
P&G’s stubborn commitment to the status quo is particularly galling in the face of the severity of our current climate and biodiversity crises. Millions of youth across the planet are demanding leadership from corporations and governments to solve the climate emergency and protect our planet for future generations. P&G, as a Fortune 50 company, can play a critical role in shaping a more sustainable future, but instead it’s remaining entrenched in the unsustainable practices that have taken a toll on our forests for decades.
Canada’s boreal forest is the largest terrestrial carbon sink on the planet. It stores nearly twice the world’s recoverable oil reserves in its soil. When the forest is clearcut, that soil releases a carbon bomb into the atmosphere. Despite what we know about how important the remaining intact boreal is to fighting climate change, the forest is being clearcut—at a faster rate than almost any other country in the world. One million acres of Canadian boreal forest are clearcut every single year, and in the last 15 years, Canada’s logging industry has logged an area the size of Ohio.
The Canadian boreal is also essential to the ways of life of hundreds of Indigenous communities, who have lived in and relied on the forest for millennia. It is also home to some of North America’s most iconic wildlife, from billions of songbirds to the boreal caribou. Many of these species are at risk, in large part because of the rapid clearcutting of their remaining habitat.
This morning, Procter & Gamble meets for its annual shareholder meeting. We will be there to remind Procter & Gamble that it can either be an environmental leader or fall behind the many brands that are innovating to create more sustainable alternatives. P&G has the influence and the power to meaningfully help shape a better future. It’s up to them to decide which side of history they want to fall on.