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The very real toilet paper issue affecting the planet that South Park flagged in latest episode
Featured Image Credit: Comedy Central

The very real toilet paper issue affecting the planet that South Park flagged in latest episode

Think before you flush

As well as skewering the rich and famous, Trey Parker and Matt Stone often use their platform to highlight serious issues.

And this was no different for one of their most recent episodes, which shone a light on the very real problem the world is facing because of toilet paper:

The ep, which aired last week, was titled 'Japanese Toilet' and centred on the impact that toilet roll has on the environment.

The basic premise sees major manufacturers conspiring to sell toilet paper to the US despite the fact that they don't need it, and that the majority of the world don't even use it.

After his dad, Randy, starts bragging about an expensive Japanese toilet he's bought, which has a built in bidet, Stan starts to get picked on at school.

Classmate Jimmy then takes it upon himself to educate him about the impact America's over-reliance on toilet roll has on the planet.

And he's not wrong.

Jimmy educates Stan about the impact toilet paper has on the environment.
Comedy Central

For those of you who don't know, toilet paper is, unsurprisingly made from trees, which have had to be cut down in order to be turned into pulp.

Usually, these once impressive specimens would have been part of a huge forest or wood, where they would have housed birds and other wildlife, absorbed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and helped prevent flash floods.

However, they can only do the above if they are still standing. So you get the picture, right?

Now, there are ways to reduce the damage done to the ecosystem, by using recycled toilet paper or bamboo paper instead, but the the majority of us don't do that.

Conservationists are now urging people to think about the kind of paper they use.

Randy has to get rid of his old toilet.
Comedy Central

Ashley Jordan works for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which scores manufacturers on how ethically they source their material.

She told UNILAD that the industry is devastating the world's natural barriers to climate change, such as Canada's boreal forest.

"Companies purchase hundreds of thousands of metric tons of pulp from Canada every year to make their toilet paper," she said.

"The boreal forest is an incredibly special and important place. It is home for more than 600 Indigenous communities.

"It’s habitat for billions of migratory songbirds and threatened boreal caribou. It stores more carbon acre-for-acre than any other terrestrial ecosystem on earth.

"When the boreal is logged, it releases carbon into the atmosphere and destroys threatened species’ habitat."

He's ridiculed after buying a Japanese toilet.
Comedy Central

Ashley praised South Park for tackling the issue, but said they didn't go far enough in explaining the true extent of the problem.

"First, most major tissue brands are made using almost exclusively virgin forest fiber and the logging industry in Canada clearcuts more than one million acres of boreal forest each year in part to feed demand for tissue, which harms the climate and degrades threatened species habitat," she said.

"Also, while the toilet paper industry has never gone to the extremes shown in the episode, it is true that major tissue manufacturers sell the idea that softness is what consumers should demand in their toilet paper, and then turn around and insist that’s a reason they can’t stop using forest fiber for their products."

Topics: South Park, Entertainment, Film and TV