Costco is trading the boreal forest for toilet paper

In the time it takes you to brush your teeth tonight, Canada's boreal forest will lose three football fields of trees.


Mary Katherine Moore

In the time it takes you to brush your teeth tonight, Canada’s boreal forest will lose three football fields of trees.

It’s alarming, but the culprit is softer than you think: We’re watching the boreal disappear before our eyes in part because Costco uses boreal trees to make toilet paper.

While forests that once sheltered caribou, elk, birds and more are flushed away, we won’t just roll with it. You don’t have to either.

Wildlife need the boreal. We need the boreal. 

Years ago, the tremendous boreal spanned 1.5 billion acres of forested lands — larger than all but six countries in the world.

These forested lands hosted wildlife large and small: On the ground, you could find Canadian lynx, snowshoe hare and even wood bison. In the treetops and skies above, nearly half of all North American birds rely on the forest during migration.

And if you look even higher — up to our atmosphere — you’ll find another important benefit. The boreal’s trees are a carbon sink, soaking up enough carbon each year to offset the global warming pollution of 24 million cars.

Now, back to Costco. Shelves lined with Kirkland Signature toilet paper can’t compare with the beauty and majesty of forested lands in the world’s “northern lungs.”

Trees flushed away to infinity

Costco sells a billion rolls of toilet paper each year. It’s the company’s best-selling item. Stacked on top of each other, those rolls would soar to heights of 300 million feet — the same as 240,000 Empire State Buildings.

But those rolls don’t come from thin air. They’re chopped from the boreal and flushed away to infinity.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Other companies already use perfectly suitable alternatives, such as recycled paper, bamboo or even wheat straw. Costco is just as capable of making this change and protecting the boreal forest in the process. But the company needs to hear from you.

That’s why we’re telling Costco to make its Kirkland Signature tissue products from at least 50% recycled or forest-free materials and refuse to sell other brands of tissue products until they make the same change. 

And you can too:

Photo: Anton Watman via Shutterstock


Mary Katherine Moore