I try to be conscious about the products I buy. I look for items that are recycled and plastic-free. I recycle aggressively. I research the environmental impact of my favorite brands. But as I sat down on the porcelain throne the other day, I realized that I don’t hold my toilet paper to the same high standards.
I’ve never abandoned the septic-safe, economical, white Scott toilet paper I grew up using. What a waste! Think of all those virgin forests that had to be cut down just so I could have a clean bum.
So I delved into the eco-toilet paper market and was surprised to find that it actually isn’t much more expensive. I also realized?that there are a lot of reasons why we should all switch over to greener toilet papers?beyond the general ‘saving trees’ idea.
6 Questions to Ask When Shopping for Eco Toilet Paper
Here are six environmental issues to consider when it comes to buying toilet paper, plus a breakdown of five popular eco toilet paper brands.
1. How many trees were cut down?
To make that plush toilet paper we know and love, companies are clear-cutting forests, contributing to global deforestation. Is it worth chopping down all those trees just so we can clean our butts? Absolutely not.
Rather than buying virgin or partially recycled toilet paper products, look for those made with 100 percent recycled paper or, even better, bamboo fiber. Bamboo is a super sustainable, fast-growing plant that can keep up with our incessant butt-wiping.
2. If the paper is recycled, are BPAs present?
Yes, BPAs have found their way into recycled toilet papers.
During the paper recycling process, most plants use thermal paper which is the source of endocrine-disrupting BPA. As a result,?Research?has shown that the shocking majority (80 to 99 percent) of recycled toilet paper products contain very small amounts of BPA–even uber-clean companies like Seventh Generation, who, in their defense, are?working to make a change.
Do we want BPAs anywhere near our most sensitive areas? No way! But don?t hop back on the Charmin Soft-and-Strong train just yet. Bamboo-fiber plys?may be the more sustainable and health-conscious solution, as bamboo is not water intensive, is easily renewable, and is not tainted with BPAs during the manufacturing process.
3. Are the rolls wrapped in plastic?
Most toilet paper comes wrapped in a thin sheath of practically non-recyclable plastic that will sit in our landfills and oceans for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Don’t let the recycling symbol fool you. This plastic must be recycled separately at special facilities.
It is an utter waste. If you are trying to reduce your plastic consumption–but aren?t into wiping your butt with cloth rags–look for companies who?wrap their rolls in paper (ideally recycled paper). It?s definitely a big step above plastic and can be easily recycled when you’re done.
4. Is there a cardboard core?
Most toilet papers have a cardboard core, even eco-friendly brands. Surprisingly,?Scott?s is one of the few brands I could find that sells a tube-free version of their popular, inexpensive toilet paper.
According to?Scott?s online calculator, I will toss (ahem, recycle) almost 6,000 cardboard tubes in my lifetime–definitely a waste. Yes, this Scott?s product is still not recycled, is bleached, and is dressed up in plastic, but it?s a start for more sustainable mainstream toilet paper.
Otherwise, if your t.p. comes with a cardboard core, make sure to toss it in your recycling bin or reuse those tubes.
5. Is the toilet paper bleached, dyed, or scented?
Most toilet paper is whitened so as to look more appealing to the consumer. To do this, companies use elemental chlorine. There is a worry that chlorine’s dangerous byproducts, like carcinogenic?dioxin, will steadily accumulate in our bodies over time as a result of long-term exposure to bleached items.
While this is more concerning for products like tampons, which?stay in contact with sensitive areas for hours on end, it is something to be aware of if you are deciding between bleached and unbleached toilet papers.
As for dyes and fragrances, it’s best to avoid these as they are usually mystery chemical cocktails. We?have no way of knowing what is inside since companies are not required to disclose fragrance?information to the consumer.
6. How much does it cost?
Believe it or not, not all eco toilet papers are expensive. They might?cost a few cents more per roll, but a few dimes?is worth it when it comes to treating the environment with respect. Plus,?if you buy your paper in bulk, costs go down considerably. Either way, eco toilet paper is absolutely worth the modest extra cost.
Eco Toilet Paper Review
Here are the most eco-friendly t.p.s for your buck, ranked.
$1.08 per roll, free shipping for 48 roll pack.
Soft and strong three-ply, made from sustainable bamboo, fun,?whimsical, and plastic-free, this brand is everything toilet paper should be.
You should know that the paper?is gently bleached to make it more appealing for those just entering the eco-realm. But you should also know that?they also donate 50 percent of their profits to help build toilets for those in need. They?ve donated around a million dollars to date and are saving trees and water in the process!
$0.92 per roll, but shipping costs (out to Massachusetts) bump that up to $1.30 per roll for a single 36 roll pack.
This is another fun brand with a great sense of toilet humor.?Their?two-ply bamboo rolls are unbleached, plastic-free, dye-free, and BPA-free.
They are a little bit less plush than the Who Gives a Crap premium line, so if you like a slightly less plush, unbleached bamboo toilet paper, this is a winner.
$1 per roll, free shipping for 48 roll pack.
While most recycled toilet papers contain BPAs, this one claims it doesn?t, although they can’t offer a 100 percent guarantee. It is also plastic-free, 100 percent recycled, and doing a world of good. Of course, it is carefully bleached, but it is also pretty affordable.
$0.83 per roll on Thrive Market, assuming free shipping.
Seventh Generation is a great company, but there are a lot of complaints about how rough this toilet paper is. If you like a rough paper and care about your t.p., this one is?unbleached, 100 percent recycled, and comes from a company with very good intentions.
$1.70 per DOUBLE roll, assuming free shipping.
Thrive Market has merged recycled paper with bamboo fiber to create a soft, strong, and eco-conscious?toilet product. They also claim their surprisingly white rolls to be completely chlorine-free. They are packaged in plastic film and seem a little costly, depending whether or not the rolls are true double rolls.
Honorable mention: Scott Tube Free
About $0.58 per roll.
It?s widely available and a step in the right direction. If you?ve been a lifelong Scott user, are on a super tight budget, or?aren?t a fan of change, this is an easy-to-find, super cheap, and slightly greener option. Small shifts do matter.
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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.