The “battle for America’s behinds” has begun, said David Fahrenthold in The Washington Post. As ice caps melt and forests dwindle, U.S. environmental groups are taking aim at what they say is a grave and gathering threat to life on Earth: extra-soft toilet paper. According to Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council, et al., the luxurious, quilted paper many of us are used to here in the States owes its softness to extra-long wood fibers, found only in old-growth trees in Canada, the U.S., and elsewhere. These massive trees serve—until they’re cut down—as “a valuable scrubber of carbon dioxide” from the atmosphere. If we care about the planet, say the eco-activists, we’ll abandon our mad pursuit of velvety soft toilet paper and embrace the significantly rougher recycled tissue used by Europeans.
You’ll get my Charmin only if you pry it from my cold, dead hand, said Meredith Jessup in Townhall.com. This is America. If the quilted, triple-ply luxury product I prefer is difficult to manufacture, or comes from rare trees, then by all means charge me more for it—as manufacturers currently do. If I choose to pay that premium, that’s my right, and my business. If eco-activists are so “in tune” with the planet, why don’t they go “wipe with bark” and leave the rest of us to make our own decisions on this most sensitive of issues? This is no joke, said Investors Business Daily in an editorial. In the war on toilet paper, we’re getting a glimpse of the environmental movement’s real agenda. These are angry hippies, “offended by symbols of wealth and consumption,” who won’t be happy until they’ve dismantled capitalist society and returned us all to the Stone Age.
Stop hyperventilating, said David Friedlander in Treehugger.com. You don’t have to be a Marxist to question whether we should be mowing down our majestic, ancient, life-giving forests “for something as ephemeral (and possibly inessential) as toilet paper.” Maybe not, said Bruce Watson in DailyFinance.com, but environmentalists still may want to let this one go. Given that toilet paper and facial tissue account for, at most, 5 percent of the goods made from the wood of U.S. forests, environmentalists seem “nagging and hectoring when they engage in the toilet-paper debate.” The battle to save the planet is a battle, first and foremost, for hearts and minds. Intruding into how people wipe their butts is a surefire way to lose it.