How to choose the best eco-friendly toilet paper

loo roll

When did we become a society that needed to wipe its collective butt on three-ply, perfumed, patterned and brilliant white toilet paper? Before I give you some of the arguments for switching to green bog roll and give my thoughts on the best-eco-friendly toilet paper, here are some of the concerns I’ve heard about making the switch:

I’m worried it won’t work as well. Loo roll has a very simple job to do. In the past, a handful of leaves would have sufficed.Some very civilised societies today don’t even use toilet paper and they manage just fine.

It’s so thin and scratchy. It’s not, honestly. Your precious bum will most certainly be fine. Just think of those scratchy leaves and be grateful that someone went to all the effort to turn office waste into soft tissue! NB: If you have haemorrhoids from childbirth, you’ve earned a bit of labrador-puppy-soft toilet paper until they pass. Hell, just use the puppy.

It’s more expensive. Actually, if you’re buying from the supermarket, it’s pretty competitive. As with all ethical choices, you may need to think about using less to make up for a slightly increased cost.

The other stuff smells nice and looks pretty. Well it ain’t going to for much longer! I completely understand that more houseproud people might want matching toilet paper, if that’s you, channel your fifties housewife and create or buy a cover for the toilet paper. Note that eco-friendly toilet paper has come a long way and is no longer the colour of weak tea. As for fragranced toilet paper – the chemicals used to maintain the smell are hormone disruptive and can cause all kinds of health problems for our growing children, read more about phlathates here.

 

What is eco-friendly toilet paper?

In Australia, only five percent of all toilet tissue is made from recycled materials – that means the rest comes from virgin materials, ie tree plantations. The best eco-friendly toilet paper will be made from 100 percent recycled materials, usually clean office waste (so you can quite literally wipe your arse with that report you hated writing, woohoo!)

According to the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) “every tonne of paper recycled saves 13 trees, 2.5 barrels of oil, 4100 kilowatts of electricity, four cubic metres of landfill and 31,380 litres of water.” Additionally, 400kg of CO2 is saved. There are two types of recycled paper – post-consumer waste, which is the office paper we talked about above, or pre-consumer waste, which is by-products from manufacturing – offcuts, etc.

Eco toilet paper is also free from chlorine, which can create toxic compounds that threaten our health and that of the wider environment. Read more about that here on Green Living Tips.

The final consideration is the packaging. The best eco-friendly toilet paper comes in recyclable packaging.

 

How to choose the best eco-friendly toilet paper

  • Look for tissue made from 100 percent post-consumer waste, eg Earthwise, Earthsoft and Safe
  • Check the recycled content of your favourite brand – some are as little as 5 percent
  • If you can’t find recycled, be sure to buy rolls that bear some certification from a forestry body to ensure the trees used come from sustainably managed forests
  • Opt for “unbleached”, “totally chlorine free”, “elemental chlorine free”
  • Safe comes in paper, Naturale comes in recyclable plastic (but check your council accepts this)
  • Watch out for greenwash: there’s no point saving pandas in China if koalas here are losing habitat for plantations, know what I mean?
  • Check out your favourite supermarket brand here

Do you use recycled toilet paper? Does your bum like it?
photo credit: radioedit via photopin cc
 

Comments

  1. Abbie says

    A couple of things:
    1. Safe is changing their packaging to be plastic (in VIC at least) instead of the paper packaging (which appeared to be plastic lined and therefore not recyclable through normal channels)
    2. Coles stores, as well as some schools (in Victoria anyway) collect soft plastics for recycling, most councils will not accept it in their kerbside collections.
    3. As I always say to people, you’re wiping your bum with the stuff, not your eyeballs. Get over the need to have cushioned, perfumed, silky soft stuff.

    • (dt)em says

      Thanks Abbie, bummer to hear about the Safe packaging. My council does accept the plastic wrap with the number 4, which is good. But I wonder sometimes if I’m actually better off putting it into the Coles bins and knowing it gets made into furniture. I love your call about the eyeballs, although my poor kids have to use loo paper for everything. Who needs tissues? We have hankies, cloths and loo roll for anything else!

    • (dt)em says

      Narelle, have you hear of “you are what you eat”? A british program, I’m not sure if it’s still on, but Gillian always recommended putting your feet up to poo and I totally agree! I loved squat toilets when I was travelling – so much cleaner (well, some of them definitely weren’t!) but not having to touch ANYTHING makes much more sense than our armchair toilets that harbour germs all over the seat and cistern…

  2. Sid says

    As above by Abbie.
    You recommend safe which I have always used but now I find it wrapped in plastic when it used to be quite distinguishable by it’s brown paper packaging.
    How does that fit with an environmentally friendly product?
    I tried to contact Encore via their website however the link to “contact us” did not work.

    Very disappointing on both counts.

  3. Hannah says

    Great article! Even though it was written almost four years ago it’s more true now than ever. When you said ‘The best eco-friendly toilet paper will be made from 100 percent recycled materials,’ it got me thinking about Lucart’s Eco Natural toilet paper. This is an innovation from Europe where previously impossible to recycle tetra-pak beverage cartons have been recycled (in a process that creates zero waste) to create a range of toilet paper, hand towels, kitchen rolls, napkins etc. In Australia it’s stocked by a company called AllTissue ( http://www.alltissue.com.au ). I think they mostly cater to businesses (but pretty cool if you’re a sustainable, eco conscious business) but I think they’re opening up their website for online purchases soon.

    Info about the process of recycling is here: http://www.alltissue.com.au/eco-natural

    Anyway, just thought I’d put it out there in case anyone was interested for themselves or their business, the process is actually really interesting too!

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