Video: Turning Illegally Logged Wood Into A Walmart Toilet Seat

This week’s New Yorker reports on how illegally logged Russian wood is smuggled over the border into China, where it’s turned into all sorts of products. In this video that accompanies the article, you see it end up as toilet seats for sale in U.S. Walmart stores.

It’s hard to think of an object that isn’t made of wood or packaged or encounters wood at some point in its journey through the economy. Any number of household items that you can buy at Walmart, like a toilet seat for instance, may very well be made from Russian wood.

“Hot Seats” []


Edit Your Comment

  1. tankertodd says:

    Over hill, over dale
    Russian wood never fails!

  2. that quote’s wording kind of makes it sound like the author can’t think of products not made of wood.

  3. Roclawzi says:

    Sarah Palin and her rowboat and her axe are really going to cause a scandal within the McCain campaign

  4. Note to self: Do not let environmentalists use my bath room.
    Note to others: If you DO let environmentalists use your bathroom, stock up on tissues.

    • tankertodd says:

      @Git Em SteveDave loves this guy–>:

      Umm…instead of crying in the woods why don’t they just go out and plant a ton of trees? Crying and moaning never got anyone anywhere, no matter how kooky their beliefs.

      • este says:


        I hate hippies as much as the next guy,

        But planting trees is not a solution to the issue. Adding a ton of trees will just make it tougher for other trees to survive, and delplete the water in a given area.

        If they want to help, they can add kelp to the ocean…. and then die at sea preferably. Feeding fish and then later said kelp.

  5. TommyFeds says:

    The only wood allowed in my bathroom is mine and in the early hours of the day. No other wood is permitted. If such other wood enters into my bathroom or home, there will be hell to pay. (and a divorce lawyer)

  6. shadax says:

    Was the lumber shipped from the Chernobyl area? :) “Hot Seats” indeed!

  7. Norcross says:

    im surprised that WalMart is carrying something made from actual wood, and not some plastic wood-grain stickers.

  8. KyleOrton says:

    This is wrong. Illegally logged wood should be turned into rare, expensive items for the wealthy.

  9. Brazell says:

    Putin and Medvedev have a KGB authoritarian neodictatorship in Russia, but, OMG MY ASS SITS ON ILLEGALLY HARVESTED RUSSIAN WOOD!

  10. econobiker says:

    Got to love those environmentally concious Chinese manufacturers. The only thing they are concious of is how to use the most environment to make money…

  11. bagumpity says:

    Isn’t it good Norwegian wood?

  12. mugsywwiii says:

    I love how the Consumerist and the New Yorker focused not on the fact that Russians are logging illegally, or that Chinese importers are knowingly buying illegally logged wood, but instead on Walmart. Walmart didn’t cut the trees down, and they probably didn’t know the wood was illegal. But yeah, let’s demonize them for the illegal actions of their suppliers’ suppliers.

    • mugsywwiii says:

      Sorry, that should have been their suppliers’ suppliers’ suppliers’ suppliers.
      Walmart -> “middleman” (per video) -> toilet seat manufacturer -> wood importer -> logger <- bad guy!

    • @mugsywwiii: If you can’t source it back to the start, don’t accept it into your supply chain. You can’t, as a company, claim ignorance of where your product comes from and think that absolves you from responsibility.

      And by “responsibility” I mean simply don’t sell it, which isn’t an impossible corporate goal. Walmart says it’s phasing out these wood sources over the next six years, in fact.

      • ELC says:

        @Chris Walters: in this “global economy” it is very difficult to do complete product sourcing. I agree with the original comment that Wal-Mart, of all the parties involved, is the least to blame. There are rules and regulations to be followed and the retail outlet is not the one responsible for the manufacturers. People seem to think that EVERYTHING in wal-mart is “sam’s choice” brand or something. They don’t commision every product in the store. Most stuff just sits on their shelves for them to sell for some manufacturer.

  13. Elvisisdead says:

    It’s a good question, though. Just how far up the food chain do we expect retailers to go to prove the origin of all of the products that they sell? For food, it’s not that tough. Toilet seat, a little tougher. A car? Cell phone?

  14. JohnDeere says:

    man i need me one of those before it sells out. seems like its a perfect fit for russian wood.

  15. nygenxer says:

    The Chinese have the manufacturing capacity but little raw materials or fuel. Good thing their next door neighbor (and military operations partner) have 11 time zones of the stuff.

    The Russians count the illegal Chinese immigrants in their national census without protest.

    Not that we have anything to worry about with Dumbya in charge.

  16. Blueskylaw says:

    Makes me feel like Im in that Mockba hard currency only hotel again.

  17. mrearly2 says:

    Those seats aren’t some cheap crap–they ought to last a lifetime!