Everything you Need to Know about Toilet Paper and Saving the Earth

by - Thursday, February 28, 2019

Everything you Need to Know about Toilet Paper and Saving the Earth

Toilet paper is not something many of us have put much thought into, but like anything we buy or consume, it has a definite impact in our world.

Toilet paper's impact on the Earth has made major news this week as a study has proven that American toilet paper consumption is destroying Canadian forests. This is more than a mere annoyance. It's a threat to their wildlife, their cultures, and to the whole planet. We need those trees to fight climate change.

Toilet paper (and the destruction behind it) has been blowing my mind for a while- you can read about toilet paper on my list of green basics (and how to make them affordable). You can find great options for any paper product on this post (you really can get recycled paper for almost anything).

But if you don't have the time for a bunch of research, let me give you the quick and dirty version (yeah, I made that joke). Toilet paper is an EASY place to make a positive impact. You just need to know a few things. Let's do this:

1. It is as Bad as You Have Heard

The toilet paper we have all been buying at the grocery stores our whole lives are stripping our forests of desperately needed trees. You can read the NRDC study about the connection between American toilet paper companies and the arboreal destruction taking place in Canada.

These companies are razing entire old-growth forests, homes to wildlife and some Native tribes, all so you can wipe your butt.

This is particularly devastating because we know that trees are one of the best defenses we have against Climate Change; in fact according to Yale, if we could plant about 1.2 trillion of them, they could cancel out 10 years of CO2 emissions. Instead, our forests continue to decrease at rapid speeds. We need those trees to cool our Earth. It's time to do something, and it starts with your own butt.

If that wasn't enough, this toilet paper also comes wrapped in plastic (pretty needlessly), so it adds to our ever-growing burden of plastic waste and pollution. A lot of serious problems going on at once. 

2. Your TP has Politics

This chart is floating around on Facebook. What I think is worth noting, is that many of the companies that fail are also owned by the Koch Brothers. You can read all bout this and their anti-environmental politics in this post.

So, by buying toilet paper that is mindful of the environment, you are also refusing money to a company that actively campaigns against the EPA and thinks that the rules should not apply to them. We don't think of these everyday purchases as political, and billionaires like the Koch borthers take advantage of this fact. By simply being aware and putting our money into more ethical companies, we are doing good on a practical level AND an ideological one.

3. Bamboo TP is Best, Recycled TP is a Mixed Bag

If I had to give you advice, I would say get recycled paper towels and bamboo toilet paper. Here's why:

Though recycled toilet paper is better for the environment, it could be potentially problematic to your body. Recycled paper has traces of plastic in it, because of shiny, plastic-covered magazine pages. For that reason, it may not be the best thing to put close to a major orifice. It puts (a small amount of) toxic chemials known to cause hormonal changes, endocrine problems, and cancers to your most delicate and susceptible places. Plastic is harmful where it is, and there is plastic in recycled paper.

THAT SAID, let's all take a minute to remember these are the same nasty plastic chemicals that we buy our food and drink wrapped in. So if you drink pop from a bottle or buy a frozen pizza, you are just sending the same chemicals through another vulnerable orifice. So, if you are still ok with those things, than this toilet paper is relatively tame compared to your food.

If you are concerned about the chemicals in plastic, bamboo is the best option for your health and the Earth. I will recommend companies for both bamboo and recycled paper, but this is the twist that doesn't always get said (but it worth knowing).

4. When in Doubt, Go Big

Our toilet paper is a good decision we make about once a year. We buy in BULK. This cuts down on the plastic, but it also keeps the switch very affordable. If you are still buying 8 or 12 rolls at a time, switching to bulk options will still be cheaper by the roll. Costco or even Amazon has bulk options.

We don't all have the space to house a year's supply of toilet paper. Check in with friends and see if they would like to split a huge order with you. I am calling this "Bulk Sharing" and I think this method of pooling resources and splitting huge orders can help people who live in small spaces access these items without living in a toilet paper hoard.

There is another benefit from this. When we buy the things we know we will need with longer term thinking (we can assume if we are living, we are also using the toilet), we stop having emergencies. Having to make urgent decisions (like the ones you make when running to the grocery store for something that has run out) leads to worse choices and more harm done. In terms of the environment, we are our worst selves in emergency mode. This can be a great way to break that habit.

5. We Can Do Better... Pretty Easily this Time

Ok, let's start with a regular toilet company, perhaps one with the most pointless bears as spokespeople. Worst, most condescending, and weirdest ads of all time. So let's start there. Charmin Ultra Strong comes in a pack of 9 for 16.95, so that is about 1.88 a roll.

So these are our best suggestions for shopping instead. Notice they are all cheaper, and most come wrapped in (recycled) paper instead of plastic as well.

Tushy toilet paper is made in America out of bamboo using eco-friendly practices. You would think it would be the most expensive, but it is 33 dollars for 36 rolls of toilet paper, so if you buy it in bulk it is under a dollar a roll. Ridiculously great. Thank me later.

The other pretty awesome new company is Who Gives a Crap that has recycled (48 for 48, so a dollar a roll) and bamboo (56 for 48 , so 1.16 a roll) toilet paper options. Equally cool, they donate half of their proceeds to building toilets around the world (did you know 2.3 BILLION people don't have access to a toilet?). So much awesomeness for wiping your butt!

Last year, we used Seventh Generation, and we bought 60 rolls for about 68 dollars (about 1.14 a roll). It serves its purpose and we generally like it. The Boy would tell you it is too thin. It also comes in all recyclable packaging

Marcal Small Steps sells 40 rolls, 1000 sheets each, is 50.66, so about 1.20 a roll.

Green 2 Tree Free- This company is pretty awesome (and lady-owned!), but the product is a little more fancy. It is made out of bamboo and sugar cane bi-products, both of which are quick-growing and sustainable, and you don't have to worry about BPA at all. If you buy in bulk (96 rolls at 114 dollars, so basically all you need forever, right?), you can get it for 1.16 a roll, which is even cheaper than the other options. Also has great reviews and comes in recyclable, plastic-free packaging.

6. Other Options Exist

If you are trying to go fully zero waste, you still have options!

First, you could do a bidet (or a bidet attachment like this one from Tushy). Not only do you get to be fancy and European, but you would save money with only a few years of use. If I had to guess, I would expect these to be way more mainstream in not much time.

The other option is family cloths, which is essentially toilet paper you wash and reuse. It has the worst name ever- it just sounds like you are spreading unspeakable things on your family members. I know a few zero waste people who use family cloths when they pee. Saves money and cuts way down on the paper product you are wasting.

7. You can Speak Up

Feel guilty for the decades of toilet paper you used? Don't. You didn't know, but now you do. If anything, turn that guilt into action and speak up to the company you felt (weird) loyalty to before.

The NRDC is specifically calling out Proctor and Gamble, who sell Charmin, not for their terrible bears, but for their part in uprooting old growth trees needlessly. Call the company and back the NRDC up! Just let them know you won't give them your money until they switch to more sustainable practices. The more people they hear from, the more they will feel that pressure.

Everything you Need to Know about Toilet Paper and Saving the Earth

See!? So many options that don't suck! The key here is to just end your family's relationship with virgin paper products. So little of what we need and use actually needs fresh paper for it, and every time you buy post-consumer recycled or sustainable products, you send a message to the market that you won't tolerate their destructive nonsense.

So, who is switching? Let me know how it goes!

You May Also Like


  1. I tried Seventh Generation and I did not like them. THanks for the other much better options!

  2. This is so interesting. There are definitely a lot of things to think about when purchasing products. A lot of times we think we are going a good route and it is not the case. I haven't been buying eco-friendly toilet paper but I should be!

  3. Honestly I'm so environmentally friendly and never thought about the type of toilet paper I use. I'm definitely in d & f. I need to change this stat

  4. Wow! I honestly had no idea that toilet paper of all things could be so destructive environmentally speaking. I definitely will be looking into bamboo tp. We've been replacing a lot of things in our home with bamboo alternatives.



Get Our Latest Posts Via Email - It's Free

Enter your email address: