Our bathrooms naturally produce waste. We humans haven’t yet evolved to stop creating waste as a by product of digestion. But the biological stuff aside, some of this waste can, and should, be avoided.
Let’s take toilet roll for instance. If we’re to tackle the mounting plastic pollution problem, four packs of plastic wrapped loo roll has to go. Plastic free toilet paper must replace its forebears in our quest to reduce packaging waste.
And it’s not just the packaging which is wreaking havoc on our environment. Super soft, quilted toilet roll might feel great on your posterior but it’s driving the demand for virgin wood pulp. And, guess what, it’s the planet who’s loo-sing out.
On a roll with your eco friendly lifestyle changes? Don’t stop at plastic free shampoo and bars of soap instead of the liquid varieties.
Let’s take a look at what plastic free toilet paper alternatives are readily available.
Recycled Toilet Paper: Not as Gross as It Sounds
Recycled toilet paper is made from recycled wood or paper pulp. It doesn’t mean that someone has trawled through the sewers, dragged out the used paper and turned it into a new roll. Eew.
Given that toilet roll most definitely is single use, recycled paper is the best solution.
So if the thought of your bathroom habits contributing to mass deforestation is too much to handle, get a grip on the recycled options.
Unlike shrink wrapped supermarket offerings, Who Gives A Crap (an Australian company and certified B-Corp) offers toilet paper with a difference. Their toilet roll is made with 100% recycled paper and comes wrapped in paper. It’s also free from ink, dyes and scents.
It’s not the cheapest on the market but there is an added feel good factor. The company donates 50% of its profits to clean water charities. These charities then build toilets for people in developing countries.
It’s also worth noting that Who Gives A Crap offer double length rolls. These should theoretically last longer than most other brands.
The only downside is their location. Depending on where you live in the world, it’s likely your eco-friendly toilet roll has travelled quite some distance to reach you.
Switching Super Soft for Sustainable
Sustainable toilet paper doesn’t have to mean using the scratchy stuff we used to get at school. But it does mean taking things down a ply or two.
If you’re used to the velvety soft feel of the quilted, 4-ply varieties, you can ease the transition. Try plastic free toilet paper made from a sustainable alternative such as bamboo. It’s a fast growing crop, making it more eco friendly than virgin wood fibre.
Alongside the recycled option, Who Gives a Crap offer a soft, forest friendly bamboo paper. Although not FSC certified, their bamboo is grown by sustainable, small scale farmers.
However, it does pose the “is bamboo sustainable” question.
If you’re not comfortable with the idea of a panda’s home being cut down, choose The Cheeky Panda toilet tissue.
All Cheeky Panda products are FSC certified and vegan friendly. They only use a type of sustainable bamboo that pandas don’t eat for their three-ply paper. Cheeky Panda are a UK company and B-Corp certified.
A more budget friendly option is Green Cane Paper, constructed from 80% recycled sugarcane and bamboo fibre. There’s also some timber pulp for added strength.
All three of these options are manufactured in China. So they’re not an ideal option if you’re trying to reduce your carbon footprint.
What About Compostable Packaging?
In a bid to attract eco conscious customers, some brands have opted for compostable packaging.
On the surface, this is praise worthy. But compostable packaging has its own problems. Labelling something compostable doesn’t always mean it will break down at the same rate as your food waste – or even turn into compost at all. Compostable materials need the right conditions to turn into compost.
Check if your local council has the correct recycling facility before choosing compostables. Otherwise you could end up contaminating your recycling or sending it to landfill, where it’s unlikely to degrade.
Both Ecoleaf and Essential Trading offer recycled toilet paper wrapped in compostable films. Traidcraft’s paper is wrapped in plastic which they say can be recycled with your shopping bags.
On the plus side, all three use fibre produced in the UK. This cuts out the air miles wracked up by the other brands mentioned so far.
104 TIPS TO REDUCING PLASTIC
Grab our PDF guide with 104 ways to reduce your plastic at home.
You’ll find tons of tips for refusing, reducing, swapping, recycling, replacing and SO much more!
Can I Find Plastic Free Toilet Paper in My Normal Supermarket?!
Currently, five of the nine big supermarkets in the UK stock own-brand, recycled toilet paper.
They are: the Co-op, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. Unfortunately you’ll be stuck with the plastic packaging if you go for any of these options.
Greenpeace say we shouldn’t be flushing the world’s forests down the drain. If you agree, try to avoid any supermarket paper labelled as “FSC mix”. This usually means virgin wood has been used in the manufacturing process.
Good supermarket options include The Cheeky Panda range. You’ll find them stocked in Morrisons and Aldi. Aldi are also currently trialing plastic free toilet paper in stores across the North East and the Midlands.
Even More Sustainable Alternatives to Plastic Free Toilet Paper
It’s hard to imagine life’s lavatory visits without loo roll. But it’s actually only used by around 30% of the world’s population. So, what else could we be using?
Reusable Family Cloths
Wiping with washable, reusable cloths has been touted as a planet and purse friendly option. But we’ve whiffed out some weaknesses.
Firstly it depends what material you choose. Cotton is a resource and pesticide intensive crop, so it’s worth treating your tush to an organic fabric.
If you’re watching the pennies, try not to use old rags or clothes made from synthetic materials. These unleash thousands of of sea life harming microfibres when you wash them.
Additionally, energy use is a factor here too. We’ve all been trained to wash at 30 degrees, but you’ll have to wash at a higher heat to kill the germs that’ll be lurking.
We do hear about pockets of people who make the family cloth work for them. So if you have the patience and you’re not squeamish about bodily fluids, these could be the non-flushables you’ve been searching for.
The French have been using bidets for centuries and for good reason. Experts reckon this is not only more sustainable but more hygienic too. Yes, it requires the use of water, another precious resource, but not as much as you might think.
The amount of water a bidet uses is “trivial” compared to the amount of water needed to make toilet paper.
Unfortunately, we don’t all have the money or space for this to be adopted on a mass scale. But there are hose pipe attachments you can buy for your toilet. If Amazon reviews are anything to go by, the ‘bum gun’ is a highly effective way of cleaning up after your business.
Packaging and Price Comparison
For many of us, our eco credentials are only limited by all important cost. So here’s our roundup of all the plastic free toilet paper brands mentioned here, and how they compare price wise.
|Who Gives A Crap||Individually wrapped rolls packaged in a cardboard box. Although this is a great marketing trick, the use of paper to wrap each roll is wasteful. But the company is eager to share any quirky ideas for reuse on their Instagram.||48 rolls of recycled paper for £36 , 48 rolls of bamboo paper for £40, free UK delivery.|
|The Cheeky Panda|
Paper, biodegradable or recyclable (depending on the product) when you buy from other retailers.
|48 rolls £34.20-£36|
|Green Cane Paper||This toilet paper arrives ‘naked’ (ie not individually wrapped) in a cardboard box. It’s sealed with paper tape when ordered as 48 rolls direct from Green Cane.|
Paper and biodegradable plant based cellophane when purchased from other retailers.
|48 rolls for £25.20, plus delivery|
|Essential Trading||Compostable wrapper||4 rolls for £1.99 plus delivery|
|Eco Leaf||Compostable wrapper made from potato starch||9 rolls for £4.75 plus delivery|
A Sustainability Crown for Your Porcelain Throne
Less packaging, less plastic, less waste. We’ve got your back(sides) covered with this guide to the best plastic free toilet paper, and a few alternative options you may not have considered!
Next time you’re in need of this bathroom staple, look out for plastic free toilet paper. It’s entirely possible to find eco loo roll that’s recycled, toxin free and soft on your skin.
And now you have the toilet roll sorted, you’re one step closer to a zero waste bathroom.