The Truth About TP
A recent article titled, Wiped out: Americas love of luxury toilet paper is destroying Canadian Forests, was forwarded to me by a few friends. It highlights how we are literally flushing lovely CO2 breathing trees down the drain with our multi-ply toilet paper. While I seem to have buns of steel, I know several people who really value a nice sheet of toilet paper and they wanted to know what their options were.
I’m going to level with you. Recycled and bamboo toilet paper are not as soft. I had high hopes that the bamboo sheets would be superior to the recycled ones, but in my experience, this was not the case. This is one area where it really does come down to caring about the environment. I promise you, the bamboo and recycled options will still clean your unmentionables just as well. Let’s get to assessing your options and dip our toe into the proverbial toilet paper filled water.
1. You can limit your purchases to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified toilet paper. This will ensure that the forests are sustainably managed. There’s a nice little logo that goes on the packaging of any product that is FSC certified, so it should take no more than the two seconds to flip over the package and look near the barcode to make this assessment. This is also something to keep in mind when buying any paper products, from notebooks to printer paper.
2. Next up is recycled toilet paper. Check out this scorecard to compare popular brands. This has been my toilet paper choice for nearly a decade, but only because I just assumed that recycled products were better. It turns out there can be a lot of chemicals used in recycled paper products, and they are still water and energy intensive. Better than virgin TP, but read on to consider a few other options as well.
3. Next up is bamboo toilet paper. I tried Cheeky Panda and, according to them, bamboo paper has a 65% lower carbon footprint than virgin toilet paper. Given the fact that bamboo is a grass as opposed to a tree, it doesn’t need to be replanted to grow again. It is also the fastest growing plant in the world! Cheeky Panda claims to use fewer chemicals than recycled paper, giving them a potential one up for the health conscious.
4. The bidet. The confusing ‘second toilet’ in bathrooms when I travel in Europe. It turns out that, while it uses water, once you consider the water used in flushing and manufacturing toilet paper, the is a winner. If you are doing a bathroom renovation, this may become your silver bullet.
5. Another blogger, Sustainable Baby Steps, makes the case for cloth toilet paper. If you’re interested, read the blog, because this feels like more than a baby step to me.
6. If you really want to show your commitment to the earth with each wipe, you can create a closed loop compost toilet and grow some lovely soft leaves in your garden. Want to see how? Check out Rob Greenfield of Florida. He’s also growing or foraging all of his own food in 2019. Let me guess; this is a step too far? Yea, me too. He is an inspiration, though!
My choice will be a switch to bamboo toilet paper going forward. If you’re also ready to make the switch, but it isn’t offered at your grocery store, do not despair. There is a company called, Who Gives a Crap (see what they did with the name there?). They’re available in the U.K. and the U.S. It’s yet another online service to manage and will require a little inventory management but, not only will they will deliver your more ethically sourced toilet paper to your door, they will use 50% of profits to build toilets and sanitation for those in need. Not convinced that toilets are a worthy charitable cause, check Who Gives a Crap’s impact report or (re)watch the toilet scene from Slumdog Millionaire.
Resources for Curios Minds
I Tried Who Gives a Crap Toilet Paper, and Here’s How It Went (Going Zero Waste)
Wipe or Wash? Do Bidets Save Forest and Water Resources? (Scientific American)
A Shopper’s Guide to Home Tissue Products (EcoWatch)
Rob Greenfield Composting His Waste (YouTube)
Is it better to use recycled paper or FSC-certified paper? (The Guardian)