Jennifer Wenker     Art+Ecology+Community Engagement
Wiped Out
2012
guerilla bathroom stall poster, virgin-fiber toilet paper, petition
Variable
EcoArt project: guerilla art posters installed in public bathroom stalls, domain name, online petition to raise awareness of serious deforestation rates which are occurring as a result of US marketing/demand/consumption of toilet paper made from 100% virgin-fiber paper pulp. The petition will put pressure on manufactures/companies to switch to 100% recycled fiber in all disposable tissue products. At present, only 2% of US toilet paper is recycled fiber. There is so little demand for recycled paper in the US, we export what we collect to China. This needs to change.

The crisis of global warming/climate change is a very complex problem. While most people understand that emissions from factories and cars cause increases of carbon dioxide, many fail to understand the cyclical nature of flora/fauna in maintaining the delicate balance of gasses in our atmosphere. We breathe each other's breath. In our every inhalation and exhalation, we are involved in a dance with the ecosystem, exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide and carbon dioxide for oxygen. Yin/yang. Upset the balance and the beauty is lost; the cycle is damaged.

Oil/gas are called fossil fuels because they were once-living carbon-rich organisms. In their fossil form (shale, coal, peat, crude oil), the carbon is sequestered naturally. It is stable and in its' fossil form. Burning fossil fuels (carbon) causes them to be changed into vapor and carbon dioxide gas that enters the atmosphere. The more that is extracted from it's solid carbon form and burned, the higher the density of CO2 in our atmosphere. Perhaps this would not be such a serious problem if our once-vast forest systems were still intact, but they aren't. 95% of our ancient redwood and sequoia forests--forests with trees of up to 3,000 years-old-- were wiped out in the last 150 years. Rain forests are being cut to the ground all over the world and replaced with soy crops due to pressures from US biofuel markets. What we are losing is critical; without this density of flora to sequester carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, the rate of global warming due to a build-up of greenhouse is sharply accelerated.

Some changes are difficult to enact, others are simple. What I would like to propose is simple. Less tree cutting/more tree re-using; that is, I propose that consumers put pressure on toilet paper manufactures to stop cutting down trees. 98% of the toilet paper, tissues and paper towels sold in the US is made from virgin-pulp fiber. This translates into 27,000 trees every day being cut to make toilet paper. 9,855,000 trees every year being literally flushed down the toilet. I am creating on online petition, at www.wipedout.org, to increase citizen awareness of this issue and to urge manufactures to create 100% recycled paper products and spare the trees.

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