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