There is some good news.  From 2006 to 2009, total North American consumption of paper and paperboard declined by 24%.  In 2009, total paper consumption in China eclipsed total North America consumption for the first time.1

Paper Consumption
In 2009 (yes I do wish there were more current figures!) the average North American consumed almost 5 times as much paper as the world average, 30 times as much paper as a person living in Africa, and almost 6 times as much as a person living in Asia. 1,3,4,5

In 2009, the United States and Canada together comprised about 5% of the global population and consumed 17% of the world’s paper.

Here’s what our paper footprint looks like:

Paper Footprint

Let’s break that consumption down into Paper Grade, i.e. what type of paper is being used where.

We’ll talk about the Containerboard category in another article.  Today, we are tackling the “Tissue” category.

Paper grade

There are a lot of websites and references to every person in the US using 650 pounds of paper per year.  This statistic is from 2005.  In 2009 every person in the US used 504 pounds of paper per year.  That’s an improvement, but we still have a long way to go.

In the Tissue Category are paper towels.  Don’t grow complacent because you are buying “recycled paper towels”.  We are doing okay on the recycling, but paper is still one of the largest single components of landfills in the United States, equaling 26 million tons annually.4

The answer is to use a sponge when it makes sense; 99% of the time a sponge will do a great job and will be much friendly on the landfill.  But, when you are shopping for sponges… for heaven’s sake, make sure you get a sponge that is environmentally-friendly and biodegradable.  Some of the cellulose sponges fail the test because they use toxic glues to adhere the sponge to the scrubber part.paper towels vs sponges

A good option is TWIST sponges and scrubbers.  They have a full selection to fulfill your every want and need.  When you add these sponges to your cleaning closet, you can consider yourself a GREEN TIGER.

1. RISI. Annual Historical Data – World Pulp. 2010
2. United Nations. United Nations Population Network. Retrieved December 2010.
3. U.S. Census Bureau. State and Country Quickfacts. Retrieved December 2010.
4. Statistics Canada.  Canada Yearbook Historical Collection.  Retrieved December 2010.
5. State of the Paper Industry