What are 100 percent recycled paper products made from? Don't ask consumers - they're confused! A new survey from Marcal® Small Steps® and Kiwi Magazine reveals that female heads of households between the ages of 25 and 54 lack knowledge about the environmental implications of the products they are purchasing.
The survey found that 59 percent of moms consider themselves "very green" or "somewhat green," incorporating environmentally friendly practices and products into their families' everyday lives. However, 62 percent of moms surveyed mistakenly believe anywhere from 25 to 50 percent or more of all U.S. paper products are made from 100 percent recycled papers, leading them to purchase products that are not as eco-friendly as they might hope. In fact, only two percent of household paper products sold in this country are made from 100 percent recycled paper.
"Encouragingly, this survey shows us that respondents' hearts are in the right place. Eighty seven percent of the surveyed moms said they'd likely purchase environmentally friendly household paper products made from '100% recycled paper' on future shopping trips," said Sarah Smith, Editorial Director of Kiwi Magazine, the parenting magazine focused on growing families the natural and organic way. "However, their intentions and actions don't always align. As this survey reveals, there's a misunderstanding among consumers regarding how their paper products are actually made."
Look for the Label
In an effort aimed at transparency and education, Marcal Small Steps has added an Environmental Facts panel to the front of each of its products (www.marcalsmallsteps.com). Similar to popular nutrition facts panels found on food products, the Environmental Facts label points out what does - and does not - go into Marcal Small Steps products, and the products' environmental impact.
"Brands need to step up to educate consumers about this issue and what their options are for products that deliver on price, performance and the planet," said MJ Jolda, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Marcal Small Steps. "Our Environmental Label is about helping consumers to easily make environmentally sound purchasing decisions."
All Marcal Small Steps products - bath tissue, paper towels, napkins and facial tissue - are made from 100 percent premium recycled paper.
New Green Guides Coming
To alleviate confusion among consumers and eliminate greenwashing by marketers, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is on track to release an updated set of Green Guides that will be used by the agency to enforce environmental marketing laws against unfair and deceptive advertising.
In addition, the NRDC also recently revised and issued its Environmental Ratings of Household Paper Products, an assessment of the environmental characteristics of tissue paper products based on key factors. Products given the highest green rating, like Marcal Small Steps, must be made with 100 percent total recycled content OR the manufacturer must ensure that any virgin fiber content is FSC-certified and have an endangered forests policy in place. Furthermore, the products must not be made using elemental chlorine bleaching or be made using a pulping caustic produced by a chlor-alkali process that uses mercury. The color-coded and easy to read chart can be an ideal resource for consumers looking to quickly identify better-for-the-environment products.
Additional findings regarding environmentally friendly behaviors include:
US households are taking the 3 R's to heart: the most frequently reported environmental protection behaviors include "recycling" (55 percent always do so; 37 sometimes do so), reducing or "conserving water at home" (44 percent always do so; 51 percent sometimes do so) and "reusing items around the house" (42 percent always do so; 55 percent sometimes do so).
Sixty seven percent bag their groceries in reusable bags from home always or sometimes.
Sixty percent regularly "buy organic foods/produce" always or sometimes.
Data collection took place between August 16 and 23, 2010. A total of 1,000 female heads of household between the ages of 25 and 54 who purchase bath tissue and/or paper towels on a regular basis completed surveys. Data reflect the target population at a confidence level of +/- 4% at the 95% confidence interval.