Remember when toilet paper was going to be our new currency? Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The environmental damage caused by our toilet paper-buying habits has worsened during the pandemic.

Why it matters: Most at-home toilet paper is made from virgin material produced by clear-cutting forests, unlike the office toilet paper, which is usually made from recycled fibers. As a result, the shift to doing business at home hasn't been good for forests.

What's new: This week the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a new report detailing the link between major U.S. toilet paper manufacturers and the destruction of Canada's boreal forest.

  • NRDC found that while a number of companies have seen growth in toilet paper from recycled materials, the top manufacturers still depend on 100% virgin forest fiber, feeding what the group calls a "tree-to-toilet pipeline."

But there's a reason why many toilet paper makers still use virgin fiber: it's a lot softer, which many consumers not surprisingly prefer when buying their own supply.

  • Office buildings, by contrast, usually fill their bathrooms with recycled fiber toilet paper, either for the environmental effect or because it's cheaper.

The bottom line: We seem to value our bottoms more than the planet.

Go deeper

Coronavirus cases rise in 22 states

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Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Texas added a backlog of cases on Sept. 22, removing that from the 7-day average Texas' cases increased 28.3%; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

The coronavirus is surging once again across the U.S., with cases rising in 22 states over the past week.

The big picture: There isn't one big event or sudden occurrence that explains this increase. We simply have never done a very good job containing the virus, despite losing 200,000 lives in just the past six months, and this is what that persistent failure looks like.

Updated Sep 25, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

The number of deaths from COVID-19 surpassed 980,000 worldwide on Thursday.

By the numbers: Globally, more than 32 million million people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Johns Hopkins data shows.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
19 hours ago - Health

Where bringing students back to school is most risky

Data: Coders Against COVID; Note: Rhode Island and Puerto Rico did not meet minimum testing thresholds for analysis. Values may not add to 100% due to rounding; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Schools in Southern and Midwestern states are most at risk of coronavirus transmission, according to an analysis by Coders Against COVID that uses risk indicators developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The big picture: Thankfully, schools have not yet become coronavirus hotspots, the Washington Post reported this week, and rates of infection are lower than in the surrounding communities. But that doesn't mean schools are in the clear, especially heading into winter.

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