It Takes 90 Years To Grow A Box Of Kleenex

Greenpeace USA sent us an email to let us know about their new spoof Kleenex site, called Kleercut they have set up. I didn’t realise but the largest stretch of ancient forest in North America is being clearcut for disposable paper products.

For those outside of the USA who might not know how big Kleenex is in the USA, it’s used instead of the word tissue by people I know, as in “Pass me a Kleenex”.

Their website states that “Did you know that it takes 90 years to grow a box of Kleenex? That’s right, every time you use a Kleenex tissue, you are blowing away ancient forests. And every time you use Scott or Cottonelle toilet paper, you’re flushing old growth trees down the toilet. That’s because Kimberly Clark, maker of these products, all but refuses to use recycled paper in its products.”

In 2004 Kimberly-Clark used 3.3 million tons of virgin (tree) fiber. If you want to get involved, check out their website and their Forest-Friendly Schools Toolkit.

[Update: Please check the comments below for some interesting discussion and what virgin tree fiber is]

Greenpeace Kleercut Campaign

19 thoughts on “It Takes 90 Years To Grow A Box Of Kleenex

  1. You’re very right. Here in Germany it were the same with “Tempo”. I’d wish, the manufacturers would use recycled paper for this products, as well as for newpapers, etc. I’d prefered to buy such products, wich are produced of recycled materials.


  2. Trees grow to maturity, have a usable period, then rot and die. To waste the usable part is a sin against nature. If you do use the tree, you must replant. Finland, Norway and Sweden have legislation to this effect, and the province of Quebec, Canada also sees it’s forest as a manageable, farmable, renewable richness. The parts of the world where government is too weak to enforce this sort of controlled cutting, and take the ‘fast cash’ for their trees need to be stopped, but who will do it? Humanities’ world governments are a laughingstock and local governments are manned by people who live to position themselves to be bough out.. Such is Capitalism. China is winning right now, maybe they have an answer?


  3. Uncle B,

    Replanting is also required on all BLM and national forest land in the USA, as well. When I was much younger and before the illegals destroyed the wage structure, I made my living, planting trees in Oregon.


  4. I really wish the people concerned about the environment (like myself) would concentrate on non-renewable resources that are being wasted and squandered willy-nilly instead of wasting effort resources on silly projects like this.

    1: The lions share of paper products come either from by-products of other operations or farmed trees like poplar, which grows to maturity in 15-20 years and is simply replanted.

    2: Trees are renewable, people!

    So long as we’re always striving to make sure we’re not destroying fragile ecosystems ala the rain forests, you cut them down to use them to better our lives, then plant more! I’ve been in the wood products industry most of my life. I’ve replanted clearcuts with my own hands. It’s a very satisfying, warm feeling to go back to those plots and see the wide diversity of life there amongst the new trees already 30 feet high, whereas before the canopy of the 80 year old doug firs left a wasteland on the ground below, where little, if anything called home. Where before I saw nothing but the tree trunks and dead needles and stick, now grows dozens of native plants amongst which roam deer, birds, chipmunks, ground squirrels, skunk, fox…I could go on. I think I’ll go out there gain this weekend.


  5. Oh, really wish people wouldn’t give Greenpeace so much press. I stopped giving them money several years ago, they’re no longer an environmental group in my opinion. Their positions seem all too often based on emotion and politics, rather than science and fact, like they used to. Quite sad, really. They had a lot of potential, and got a lot of people’s attention. To their credit, I think they really got the ball rolling on paying attention to the damage we do to this planet in our pursuit of wealth and success.


  6. Thanks Bill, appreciate your thoughts. It is true that Greenpeace seems to have changed quite a bit since i first knew them, however they still do great work. Sure, I’m not 100% behind all they campaign for, but the same could be said of a lot of companies, politicians, activists and charities. Sometimes issues like this are overlooked but can make a difference – yes trees can be replanted, but they won’t be the same 90 year old trees. Plus they’re habitat for a lot of wildlife, You’re right lot of paper products are made from managed forests, so if we only buy products that are made like this then they wouldn’t be cutting down non-managed forests.


  7. What a misconception! Most trees that are used to produce tissue and paper are grown exclusively for this purpose. Rows of trees planted like crops. It is called silviculture. Once these trees are harvested, new trees are planted. It does not take 90 years to grow a box of kleenex! A pine tree planted for paper production matures in about 15 years and produces over 1200 rolls of toilet paper. Stop the hype and tell the facts. Try blowing your nose with a plastic bag.


  8. Hi Ned, thanks for your comment. I’m well aware of this, I’m not saying don’t use tissues, far from it. If you read the article it’s talking about a specific brand – Kleenex – which are using specific trees that are NOT grown for this purpose. There is no hype, we’re talking about one company, not all paper products! I know in America the term “kleenex” is often used to describe all tissues, but we’re talking Kleenex here.


  9. I’m highly dubious of the ‘virgin timber’ and ’90 years’ claims. As I said above, I’ve spent most of my life in the wood products industry here in Oregon. A stand of virgin timber is, conservation aside for the moment, highly valuable. Each log is worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on the species, quality, etc etc. Drop the value of that same log to a pocketfull of change if it’s going to paper. No timber owner would sell good virgin timber to make paper. Even to Kleenex. No-how no-way ain’t gonna happen in a million years.
    Having just looked at a box of Kleenex, it does say “100% virgin fiber”. This means they’re made from non-recycled sawdust bought from sawmills, not old-growth timber, fer chrissakes. This same sawdust that used to be burned or thrown away. They’re just saying that you’re not putting someones used paper in your nose, which is a good thing, I’d say. What we’re looking at here is typical Greenpeace let’s mislead the public to further our agenda fly-off-the-handle to hell with facts let’s do it anyway propoganda, and sorry, but you, along with countless others, have fallen for it.

    No “ancient forests” are being “clearcut” for paper products. It’s made-up, Joel. Made-up.


  10. Personally, I think the issue is bigger than exactly what kind of “virgin” tree fiber is used. Kleenex, paper towels, etc. are symptomatic of our throw-away-culture. I don’t think it hurts to get people to use recycled paper for paper products, as energy and water go into cutting and milling trees and making the paper! Reduce, recycle and reuse!


  11. Yes – per their site – “Kleenex Free Classrooms: We need your help!” sounds like such a wonderful idea. Let’s have our children wiping their nose and snot on their arms and getting each other sick rather than using some sawdust to make a piece of paper cloth that costs less than a penny. Brilliant!


  12. In the interest of being fair, I think they mean to switch brands – there are other tissue brands besides Kleenex! If it’s from managed sustainable forests then that’s not a problem.


  13. This is a very interesting serious debate.
    I would agree with Bill. Businesses are cost-conscious and image conscious….perhaps Kleenex and the like could come clean about their source…
    Hype gets us Green headlines, noticed and discussed but it can also be counter-productive- use it wisely…
    I prefer humour so
    Regarding the use of tissue paper generally I try to keep this in mind..Jerry Hall I believe when asked what ” eco-law “she would introduce was to limit everyone to one square of toilet tissue per day…” It made me laugh….It is ludicrous but it does make me think twice about the amount of tissue i unravel from the roll…pull from the box…etc.


  14. After reading this I will never use kleenex prouducts ever again
    I dont buy them personaly there tissues ,and have always used a tissue thats made from recycled paper,but alas up till now I was using the cottenelle toilet paper 😦 now that im enlightened never again !


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