For anyone on a zero waste journey, or simply considering the impact of their lifestyle and decisions, the bathroom is a good place to start. Making some changes to our bathroom breaks can help us stop flushing away valuable resources.
Fortunately, small changes are possible for everyone. For the most daring of us, we can even do away with flushable toilet paper altogether (insert gasp here)…
We can’t hold it any longer! Here are some of the most sustainable toilet paper options, as well as why we should pause and think before we flush.
When Nature Calls, Protect It
The “porcelain throne” is hardly the most glamorous place to think about making a positive impact on our planet, but, in fact, there’s nothing more single-use than conventional toilet paper.
A quick trip to the loo typically doesn’t inspire a lot of thought, but perhaps it should. We’ll leave considerations of the water for another article, but the toilet paper alone is crapping on our planet in a few ways.
- Globally, we use around 42 million tons of toilet paper every year. If we were to join the rolls end to end, they would span 22 billion kilometers—or wrap around our planet nearly 50,000 times! Holy s*** indeed, especially when you consider that the majority of the world’s population doesn’t use toilet paper at all.
- In America, we typically flush around three rolls a week (NRDC)—most of which has been associated with clear-cutting ancient forests (like the Canadian boreal forest).
- Over the span of a year, the toilet paper produced for Americans consumes around 253,000 tons of chlorine for bleaching and requires 17.3 terawatts of electricity (Scientific American).
- Taking care of our tushies means that each of us wipe with the equivalent of 384 trees over the span of our lifetime.
- According to The Guardian, most toilet paper is continuously becoming less sustainable (AKA more use of virgin paper, more deforestation). Virgin pulp requires more toxic chemicals than recycled paper, too.
8 Most Sustainable Toilet Paper Options
Eco-Friendly Toilet Paper
This Australia brand was one of the first companies to make toilet paper that’s…well, more than just toilet paper. They’re a Certified B Corporation that donates a 50% of their profits to help build toilets. In fact, that’s why they started their TP company in the first place.
When they launched their company in 2012, around 2.4 billion people around the globe didn’t have access to a toilet, and because Who Gives A Crap has donated nearly six million Australian dollars to their partner charities, they’ve helped to reduce that number to just two billion!
They’re helping our planet, too. Their toilet paper comes in two different varieties: 100% bamboo or 100% recycled. It’s soft as “unicorn kisses and as strong as 1000 ponies.” It’s also free of scents, dyes, and inks. They ship it plastic free, too!
2. Reel Paper
Reel offers another tree-free option with their 100% bamboo paper. It’s made from sustainably-sourced bamboo and is also free of inks and dyes. No BPA either! Everything is sent without plastic—all the way down to the tape they use.
Through a partnership with SOIL, they’re able to use a portion of their profits to provide toilets and remove waste from communities in Haiti. Even better, they’re able to transform that waste into compost to support reforestation and agriculture projects!
3. No. 2
Here’s another toilet paper that’s better for us and Mother Earth. According to them, No. 2 provides the no. 1 toilet paper. It’s made with 100% responsibly-sourced bamboo, free of plastic, sent with recycled packaging, and features a very cute printed wrapper (using soy inks, of course).
Plus, the toilet paper is super silky and has 95% less butt crumble (the crumbs that get left behind during wiping with traditional toilet paper).
Seventh Generation is one of the few companies to offer a 100% recycled toilet paper that’s also unbleached! It’s made with 80% post-consumer content and 20% pre-consumer content. While it unfortunately comes in plastic packaging, recycling at store drop-off points is possible in most areas—and it’s also 50% recycled itself.
Because they don’t use chlorine, they’re preventing the amount of chlorinated toxins that end up in our environment and waterways. Their TP is also free of synthetic fragrances and dyes. They’re also a Certified B Corp who holds their manufacturers to high high standards and sources their materials in a sustainable manner.
We’ll mention why TUSHY really stands out in the following section, but in addition to their potty pièce de résistance, they also offer bamboo toilet paper! It’s 100% sustainable (much lower carbon footprint compared to traditional toilet paper) and is free of cancer-causing BPAs and bleach.
Compared to conventional TP—which requires 37 gallons of water for one roll—their bamboo TP only sips up 0.59 gallons!
Sustainable Alternatives to Toilet Paper
TUSHY is really changing the toilet paper game because of some of their other products: bidets.
For those of us ready to join most of the world, we can choose from two different options: the TUSHY CLASSIC and the TUSHY SPA (which has the added benefit of temperature control). Both options are super simple to use and install. No plumber’s crack required—aside from yours.
For every one sold, a portion of the profits gets donated to Samagra, an organization in India providing clean community toilets.
The TUSHY helps us out, too. Bidets are much better than dry paper or wet wipes—which have been shown to contribute to more than 30 million annual cases of UTIs, yeast infections, anal fissures, hemorrhoids, and anal itching.
Whisper’s another brand offering “a tiny shower for your butt.” Just 10 minutes to easily install their bidet and you’ll end up with something truly life changing (according to several reviewers!). Think about it this way: if you got poop on any other part of your body, you wouldn’t just wipe it off with dry paper, now would you?
Whisper keeps things simple and super affordable. If you’ve heard whispers about the benefits of bidets, perhaps it’s time to check them out yourself.
Zero Waste Toilet Paper: Reusable Toilet Paper
Take a deep breath because what you’re about to read might come as a bit of a shock. Marley’s Monsters—the brand responsible for the UNpaper towels we mentioned in our article about easy zero waste tips—has something even more revolutionary: a Toilet UNpaper Roll.
You bet your a** that this is taking zero waste to the next level. However, a quick look at some of the reviews indicate that this isn’t as scary as some people may believe!
Here’s how it works: the Toilet UNpaper is made from 100% cotton flannel, you use it just like “normal” toilet paper, then toss it in a wet bag to be washed every two or three days. You can even pre-soak with vinegar, if necessary.
If you combine it with a bidet, just think of all the resources you’ll save!
Final Potty Thoughts
We all use the toilet, and the vast majority of us use toilet paper. This means that we’re presented with a great opportunity for minimizing the impact of our bathroom breaks!
If you’re not ready to ditch toilet paper entirely in exchange for something reusable, and aren’t too excited about experimenting with a bum shower, try to swap out your normal TP for a recycled or bamboo option (or, just try to minimize the amount that you use!).
If you have ditched toilet paper (either for #1’s, #2’s, or both)—please let us know about your journey! We’d love some encouragement for when we try it ourselves!