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Image courtesy of the National Resources Defense Council

Soft? Quilted? Strong? The familiar adjectives from the supermarket aisle play no role in the Natural Resources Defense Council's annual toilet paper scorecard, which uses environmental yardsticks to judge what the industry so gently describes as bathroom tissue.

Why it matters: Consumers who pick products based on their green credibility will be troubled to learn that big-name brands (which are often cheaper) get poor marks compared with startups that typically cost more.

Details: The NRDC says that Procter & Gamble remains "stuck in the past" and uses "zero recycled content in their toilet paper, instead relying on ancient trees clear-cut from the Canadian boreal forest."

  • Brands like Charmin, Cottonelle and Angel Soft "are made from virgin forest fiber," the NRDC says.

What they're saying: "Our consumption of single-use tissue is taking a dramatic and toll on our global climate," according to the NRDC.

  • "Sustainable alternatives exist, but these major brands simply choose not to use them."

Per The Wall Street Journal: There are differences in opinion over how much toilet paper American households use and how to measure the effects on the Earth.

  • A spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble, the maker of Charmin, said the company uses tools such as life-cycle assessments to understand potential environmental impacts, WSJ wrote.

My thought bubble: It would be hard to overstate the memorability of this New York Times exegesis on toilet paper. My fave take-away:

  • "We [Americans] use more toilet paper than Europeans because we’re in the habit of bunching up a wad of it rather than unspooling a few sheets and neatly folding them. Roughly 70 percent of us bunch, while 90 percent of them fold."

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - World

North Korea claims latest missile test new weapon launched from submarine

North Korean state media claims the country's military fired this missile on Tuesday. Photo: Korean Central News Agency

North Korean state media announced that a detected ballistic missile launch off its east coast on Tuesday was a newly developed weapon test-fired from a submarine.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches into the sea happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Manchin's massive means test

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is offering progressives a trade: He'll vote for their cherished social programs if they accept strict income caps for the recipients, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s plan to use so-called means-testing for everything from paid family medical leave to elder and disabled care would drastically shrink the size and scope of the programs. It also would bring a key moderate vote to the progressive cause.

The China whisperer

Nick Burns. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee for ambassador to China will face aggressive questioning Wednesday about the most important, and potentially perilous, bilateral relationship in the world.

Why it matters: While Nick Burns is an experienced diplomat with support on both sides of the aisle, lawmakers want to use his confirmation hearing to force the administration into some tough positions on China.