Toilet paper essential, no matter where you are. Every single day, an average person can use up to 60 sheets of toilet paper, and although about only 30 percent of the population actually uses toilet paper, it’s still a whole lot when you’re considering over 2 billion people, and we’re not even talking about using other types of paper towels such as kitchen rolls and tissues!
So, now that we’ve established the amount of toilet paper being used, let’s point out the obvious; where does toilet paper come from? Trees of course! Can you imagine the number of trees that get cut down to produce just one day’s worth of toilet paper?
Let me make it easier for you: 27,000 trees. Every. Single. Day!
For a planet that already has enough problems with climate change and global warming, it’s no fun realizing that 27,000 trees that may help bring things to normal are actually being used to wipe our behinds every day. But we can’t just stop using toilet paper, can we? Of course not, but it doesn’t mean we can’t do it responsibly.
Thankfully, a few companies have taken the initiative to produce what they call eco friendly toilet paper. But what is eco friendly toilet paper exactly? Read on, because this article is going to help you understand everything about sustainable toilet paper, including the types, the pros and cons, and where you can find them.
Strictly speaking, toilet paper, no matter what type, isn’t eco friendly until the packaging itself isn’t made from sustainable materials. If you’ve just bought some fancy sustainable toilet paper, but it comes in non-recyclable plastic packaging, what’s the point if you’re not decreasing the amount of non-recyclable trash?
The first step to going eco friendly is reducing the amount of trash at home, and one of the main traits of sustainable toilet paper is that it helps reduce non-recyclable garbage. If you’d like to find out more, here is a list I’ve made of some of the easiest ways to reduce trash at your home.
Now, let’s get to it…
There are primarily two different types of environmentally friendly toilet paper, each having its own processes:
Recycled toilet paper
Now, I know what you’re thinking, and NO, I DON’T MEAN RECYCLING ACTUAL TOILET PAPER (eww!).
Recycled toilet paper is simply your average paper roll, only made from recycled materials. As we’re well aware, paper towels aren’t the only thing made from pulp. Book covers, pages, and paper packaging, all of them are made using the same pulp, just a slightly different process. Every day, hundreds of tons of paper are dumped into recycling bins. These bins are then taken to a recycling plant where they can be re-used to make more useful things made of paper, such as cartons, packaging and, you guessed it, toilet paper!
Recycled toilet paper is considered eco friendly because the paper manufactured is made without the need for extra pulp. Companies usually try to keep the paper as environmentally friendly as possible. Therefore they would, in most cases, stay away from dyes and odors that may include chemicals likely to be washed up into the oceans. This also means that any chemicals that may act as allergens are now no longer there, so it’s allergy free as well!
Here is a short list of the benefits of having recycled toilet paper
- Free of chemicals/allergens
- Odorless (In most cases)
- Sometimes more durable than regular toilet paper
- Pricing almost exactly the same as regular paper
However, there are a few downsides to having recycled toilet paper
- Often don’t look that nice since no dyes are involved
- Usually come in regular plastic packaging (which is not recyclable)
- May feel a little rough as it is made from different textured paper
- Once used, it can’t be recycled (Obviously)
Overall, recycled toilet paper is a great way to switch to a more sustainable lifestyle. Just imagine; hundreds of tons of paper being re-used each day without wasting more energy in extracting pulp, also potentially saving thousands if not millions of trees every single year.
Bamboo toilet paper
What if you’re able to find something that can offer the same qualities as wood pulp, but be much more sustainable? One word? Bamboo!
Bamboo trees are extremely easy to find in almost any climate and can be grown in huge quantities. They take much less space than a regular tree and take much less time to fully grow than your average pine or spruce tree (which may take up to 20 years!). On top of that, they require little maintenance and are even fairly drought tolerant. Chopped down the bamboo tree for pulp? No problem, the tree will sprout from the base and regrow in no time, making it one of the most sustainable items on the planet!
When we think of bamboos, we usually think of pandas chewing down on them. However, bamboos are very versatile and can be used in a number of products, such as towels, utensils, furniture, and even computer accessories! More recently, bamboo has gained a lot of attention in the domain of toilet paper, as more companies are now investing heavily in making toilet paper made using bamboo pulp.
If someone were to ask me what is eco friendly toilet paper made out of, my immediate answer to them would be bamboo. Yes, recycled toilet paper made from old paper is also environmentally friendly, but at the end of the day you’re still chopping down a 20-year-old tree that is first made into a cardboard box, then recycled into toilet paper after a year or so, and thrown down the bin a few months later.
Compare that to toilet paper that is made from a tree that grows in a much smaller amount of time, and once you chop it off, it still keeps on growing; by the time you’re done with that toilet paper, there’s a good chance that the bamboo tree has already re-grown, ready to be made into more paper, how cool is that?!
Here are just a small number of benefits of bamboo toilet paper:
- Much more sustainable than recycled paper
- Soft, yet extremely durable
- Complete biodegradable and septic-safe
- Odorless and colorless
- Usually comes in biodegradable packaging, also made from bamboo
There is a small downside to using bamboo toilet paper though, that it is slightly more expensive than recycled paper. This is because the process of converting bamboo to paper is relatively costly than the traditional way to make paper by using spruce or pine trees. That being said, the bamboo toilet paper is only slightly more expensive and once you start using it, you will realize that it is surely worth the extra cents you paid.
Now that we have established what is eco friendly toilet paper, it’s time to look at items that can be considered as somewhat sustainable or environmentally friendly, but you wouldn’t really call them “toilet paper”. Nevertheless, they get the job done so why not mention them as well
If you want a toilet paper alternative that you can reuse several times, then cloth wipes are a good option. These wipes are just like napkins but are much softer for your skin. Some companies offer kits that come with two different boxes, one for keeping the clean wipes and the other for storing the used ones.
In many cases, these wipes also come with fragrances to prevent the mucky box from smelling bad when it’s storing the dirty wipes. Once the container is full, all you need to do is wash them (which is definitely the hardest part!).
Yes, washing your wipes full of poo can sound disgusting, but it is saving quite a lot of toilet paper. And to top it off, you’re never really buying more toilet paper, meaning you get to save a fair bit of cash with these wipes in the long run. This alternative is especially suitable for those people who are out camping; all you need is water and you’ll never run out of toilet paper!
Here are a few advantages to using cloth wipes:
- Completely reusable
- Economical in the long run
- Soft material, often softer than your average toilet paper
- Much more durable
However, there are some downsides, some of which are pretty obvious:
- You still require water to re-use them
- Let’s face it, washing used wipes sounds kind of disgusting, and it is!
- Boxes may smell bad if fragrances aren’t included
- The initial cost of buying wipes much higher than regular paper
A small water sprinkler that can either be hand-held or used as an attachment for your toilet, the bidet can be a sustainable alternative to toilet paper by removing the use of any material to wipe altogether. If you’ve ever been abroad to Asian countries, you might be well aware of what I’m talking about. Many people recommend using bidets for personal hygiene, often because it allows for a more thorough cleaning than your average toilet paper or wipe. However, bidets are relatively expensive, and often require cleaning up as well.
The benefits of using a bidet:
- Removes the need for toilet paper or wipe
- More thorough cleaning than toilet paper
There are a few disadvantages though:
- Wastes more water
- Attachments often take up space and require professional installation
- Requires cleaning quite often
- Much more expensive than a toilet paper
Finally, the cost…
In this article, we have discussed what is eco friendly toilet paper, what are the various types with their pros and cons, as well as looking into other alternatives available in the market. However, many of you may be wondering if sustainable toilet paper is actually more expensive than regular toilet paper. After all, for many of us, the cost is the deciding factor!
Sustainable toilet paper, especially bamboo toilet paper, is slightly more expensive than regular paper, but with the increased awareness, as well as various government incentives on manufacturing sustainable alternatives, they often come with discounted prices that are surely a bargain.
If you like, you can check out the compilation below of some of the best sustainable toilet paper brands I’ve hand-picked that offer great quality, and for a limited time, also offer great discounts!