CLOSED: Conscious Consumerism: Marcal Small Steps (plus giveaway!)

marcal small steps

Any fool can destroy trees.
They cannot defend themselves or run away.

And few destroyers of trees ever plant any;

nor can planting avail much
toward restoring our grand aboriginal giants.”

-John Muir

98% of purchased paper products come from trees.

Ninety. Eight. Percent.

2% of purchased paper comes from recycled content.

Only. Two. Percent.

What I want to do here is rant about how people feel entitled to wipe their bums, blow their noses, clean their chins and countertops, and print their LOL email forwards on paper that sacrifices trees that take decades, centuries to grow. That are bleached to the whitest white and marketed as being luxurious, or fluffy like clouds. Why? Why? Do we really need to wipe our bums with fluffy clouds? Really? Really?

But I’m behaving myself today. Let’s skip the rant and instead recap why trees are important, shall we?

  • Trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere (greenhouse gases)
  • Trees’ dark green leaves absorb light from the sun (retaining heat during the day and slowly releasing)
  • Trees take up water from the soil, which then evaporates into the atmosphere (creating heat-deflecting clouds, another global-warming deterrent)
  • Tree root systems prevent erosion & loss of fertility (soil conservation)
  • 70% of the earth’s animals & plants live in forests. Most will not survive clear-cutting.

Since not all our paper is sourced from rainforest, I WON’T EVEN MENTION that tropical rainforests house half the world’s varieties of plants, many of them medicinal (two-thirds of cancer-fighting agents originate in rainforest), in a land area that’s only 7% of the world’s land mass. And that we continue to discover new species there all the time.

Oh. Well, maybe I will. IT’S IMPORTANT, YA’LL.

One of the easiest ways we can help the earth out is by mindfully consuming paper.

As in, don’t use paper if you don’t need to.

  • Save files on your computer rather than print them out.
  • Read books on an e-reader rather than buy hard copies (you can download the Kindle app to your computer for free and read on your Mac or PC)
  • Subscribe to digital versions of magazines or newspapers
  • Pay bills online; opt out of junk mail; get off catalog mailing lists
  • Switch to rags for cleaning, cloth napkins for mealtime, handkerchiefs for noses
  • Write your to-do & grocery  lists on a digital calendar; bonus points if you sync to your phone.
  • Draw on chalkboards or whiteboards and snap a pic for posterity.
  • Encourage art projects that use recycled materials.

When you do use paper, for the love of Mike please reuse the blank sides. If you need coffee filters buy the unbleached ones, and compost them. If you buy a Sunday paper for the coupons, shred the paper for the guinea pig cage. Save the envelopes that come in your junk mail for when you have to send a check or money into the classroom. Be creative.

Recycle all you can.

And then, complete the cycle. Retailers are not going to shift the new:recycled ratio until there is a quantifiable demand for recycled content products.

When you buy paper products, buy recycled.

Let companies know where your priorities are, and how you want to spend your dollar. They will pay attention.

We switched over to cloth napkins, hankies and rags a long time ago, but I still need to buy the occasional box of tissues for a bad cold. I also buy paper towels for draining bacon and cleaning up puke (it’s necessary; we’re talking two, three boxes and rolls a year). And, we do use toilet paper, a state of affairs I don’t see changing anytime soon.

We’ve always used Marcal, for the simple reason that it was inexpensive and the Sunday paper runs coupons for their products all the time. When we first officially “done gone green” back in 2008, I was beyond pleased (and mayhaps a little smug) to find out that not only was Marcal frugal, but comes from recycled content too.

  • Marcal Small Steps is made from 100% recycled content paper (30% post-consumer, meaning a consumer has used it & recycled it.)
    • For comparison’s sake: Seventh Generation is also 100% recycled content, and an impressive 90% post-consumer. It’s also a bit more expensive than I think every other brand out there.
    • Scott Naturals is 40/40.
  • Marcal processes 200,000+ tons of recyclable paper—magazines, office & school paper, flyers, junk mail & printers’ waste (printer’s waste being an example of recycled content that is not post-consumer, like the ends of paper rolls)— every year, thus saving over 4 million trees and producing more than 12 million cases of paper products annually.
  • Air-fluffed TP (anything vaguely resembling clouds, or quilts, or angel’s wings) is an energy-intensive process, considerably more so than the traditional process Marcal uses. That’s totally not even thinking about the energy expended clear-cutting forests. BUT YOU SHOULD THINK ABOUT IT BECAUSE IT’S IMPORTANT.
  • AND, soft and fluffy is no good for your plumbing and sewer systems. The thinner stuff is designed to be blown apart upon flush impact. Soft and fluffy? Turns into a thick, gloppy mess that clogs easily and is no fun to watch your plumber husband extract from pipes. You’d think it would be, but it’s not.

But the best part is, Marcal recently updated their look and product line (by recently, I mean I have no idea exactly when this happened) and the toilet paper is softer, the paper towels are now durable. So it’s not even like you’re making some sort of sacrifice to use the recycled product. It is every bit as practical, and frugal too. No excuses!

Wanna try it out?

The nice folks over at Marcal are offering one of my readers a sample pack of Marcal products (toilet paper, tissues, napkins, and paper towels).

Just leave me a comment letting me know one thing you do to cut down on your paper consumption for your chance to win.

Bonus entry: “Like” my Facebook fan page and leave a 2nd comment telling me you did (or that you already were a fan).

I’ll pick a winner next Saturday morning before soccer, 4/30/11.

Don’t forget, you can check your Sunday paper for coupons, they’re in there all the time. Or, “like” Marcal’s fan page for an instant-gratification printable coupon.

Find stores that carry the Marcal brand here.

Full Disclosure: I happily accepted an offer of a trial roll of Marcal paper towels and a package of TP for review purposes. No other compensation was received for this post.




Comment #2, Aimee! Thanks to everyone who entered!


  1. says

    We do most of the same things you do: cloth napkins, old t-shirts as rags, read newspapers online. However, we also use cloth diapers and cloth diaper wipes (except when we are traveling–bit too difficult).

  2. Aimee says

    We use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins and old cloth diapers instead of paper towels- they are GREAT for cleaning! I either buy Marcal or Traders Joe’s brand T.P. I heart them both:)

  3. sheila k. says

    I am careful about re-using the backsides of pieces of computer paper to print out coupons or maps. My mother taught us to use TP conservatively, and to recycle newspapers and phone books. By the way, I love Marcal paper products.

  4. Debbie C says

    I try to use a dish towel in the kitchen for most things, instead of paper towels. But sometimes, nothing but a paper towel will do.

    dchrisg3 @ gmail . com

  5. Sarah says

    We recently tore up some old sheets to use as rags for washing windows vs using paper towels. We also reuse the other side of printouts from the computer when we can.

  6. Patricia says

    We cut down on paper use by cutting our paper towels in half when you do use them. We recycle the paper we do get but mostly we read newspapers online.

  7. Jessica says

    We have really cut down on our magazine subscriptions. We used to have over 10 monthly subscriptions that I would just skim and toss out.

  8. says

    Thank you for the giveaway. I pay some of my bills online, buy recycled paper goods, use dish towels for cleaning, recycle my paper by using the back for scratch paper, upload coupons onto my rewards card and more!

  9. Emma Peel says

    We use junk mail for writing paper or notes. Often the one side of the paper is blank.

  10. JenniferR8 says

    One thing that I do to cut down on my family’s paper consumption is the not subscribe to the paper newspaper and read it online instead. reejen at comcast dot net

  11. forrell says

    One way I do itis I try not towaste paper by writing on both sides or using the back of papers I don’t ned for scratch paper

  12. brian e. says

    Thanks for the giveaway…instead of buying post-it note-type notepads we use paper that has arrived at our home as junk mail: we cut up envelopes, and the blank sides of pages into squares, write our notes & then tack them up with a magnet or thumbtack.

    senorpiero [at] yahoo [dot] com

  13. Chris Noe says

    I used e-reader and read most of my books on it nowadays. Also use clothes instead of paper towels

    ezmerelda at mail dot com

  14. Debbie Kennedy says

    We do most of our banking and bill payments online instead of having the statements mailed to us – certainly saves on paper……and filing!

  15. Diane Baum says

    I started to pay all of my bills on line to help the environment and use less paper. I also print less on the computer.

  16. Loretta Ball says

    I have stopped printing things on my printer all the time. I try to use a dish towel in the kitchen for most things, instead of paper towels. We use junk mail for writing paper or notes.

  17. says

    Have you given any kind of consideration at all with translating your site in to German? I know a few of translaters right here that will might help you do it for free if you want to make contact with me.


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