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

22 hours ago - Health

Your home is your gym

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The pandemic-enforced lockdown that led to a boom in virtual fitness activities is here to stay.

Why it matters: Remote fitness can allow more people access to high-quality teachers and classes. But with gyms likely to be one of the last businesses allowed to reopen during the pandemic, neighborhood fitness studios could be in trouble.

Coronavirus testing czar: "We are not flattening the curve right now"

Adm. Brett Giroir, the Health and Human Services official overseeing the nation's coronavirus testing efforts, told Congress Thursday that the U.S. is "not flattening the curve right now," and that the nationwide surge in new cases is not simply a result of more testing.

Why it matters: President Trump said at a press conference just hours earlier that the U.S. is getting the coronavirus "under control." He and other top members of his administration have sought to downplay the growing surge in infections as largely a product of increased testing.

Coronavirus cases flat or growing in 48 states

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise, Naema Ahmed, Danielle Alberti/Axios

The number of coronavirus cases increased in the vast majority of states over the last week, and decreased in only two states plus the District of Columbia.

Why it matters: This is a grim reminder that no part of the United States is safe from the virus. If states fail to contain their outbreaks, they could soon face exponential spread and overwhelmed health systems.