Author: Team Repurpose
- Traditional toilet paper is terrible for the planet; the manufacturing process destroys trees, releases carbon, wastes water, and discharges chlorine into the environment.
- There are several sustainable alternatives like recycled toilet paper, bidets, washable cloth wipes, and bamboo toilet paper.
- Bamboo toilet paper is the best option because it has the softness, strength, and biodegradability of traditional toilet paper, but it’s made from a rapidly renewable resource.
What’s so bad about regular toilet paper?
1. High Consumption Rates
Judging by rates of toilet paper consumption, people in the United States are obsessed with having clean bottoms.
On average, every American consumes 141 rolls of toilet paper per year, making the U.S. the worldwide leader in toilet paper consumption. (We’re #1! Or would that make us #1 when going #2?)
The bad news is that toilet paper consumption continues to climb year after year. Regions that traditionally didn’t use toilet paper are starting to adopt the practice. While that may be good news for the toilet paper companies, that’s bad news for the environment.
Every day, the world consumes 27,000 trees worth of toilet paper.
Yes, you read that right – 27,000 trees PER DAY. We’re literally flushing thousands of trees down the toilet every single day.
As we all know, forests like these are vital to the health of the planet; they remove carbon dioxide form the air, filter pollutants, store carbon, and release oxygen that we all need to survive.
Can you guess what happens to that stored carbon when the trees are clear cut to make toilet paper pulp? You guessed it – much of that carbon gets released into the atmosphere. And simply replanting trees won’t bring back the carbon lost – it takes years for new trees to grow large enough to have the same impact as the ones that were cut down.
3. Other environmental impacts
You also have to consider the other environmental impacts of toilet paper production, like the amount of energy required for production, water usage, and chemicals that are released during processing.
According to Scientific American, 473,587,500,000 gallons of water are required every year to create enough toilet paper for the United States alone.
To meet our annual demand, the manufacturing process also requires 253,000 tons of chlorine to bleach the paper.
How do you feel about your toilet paper now?
Potential Solutions to the Traditional Toilet Paper Problem
1. Toilet paper made from recycled material
Traditional toilet paper is primarily made from virgin fiber that’s never been used before, which causes rampant deforestation. One solution – buy toilet paper that contains recycled paper.
Unfortunately, while eco-friendly, recycled toilet paper has a reputation for being a bit rough on your parts.
2. A bidet
Bidets are certainly an environmentally friendly way to clean your nether regions ––– there’s zero paper involved, just a refreshing spray of water. And you don’t have to completely remodel your bathroom to get one; you can simply install a bidet toilet seat to your already existing throne.
Sales of bidets have started to rise in the U.S., mostly due to the run on toilet paper in 2020. However, they do use excess water to operate, and can be pricey.
3. Reusable cloth wipes
Also called “reusable toilet paper” and “toilet unpaper,” you can find a variety of these cloth wipes by doing a quick search on Etsy. Or if you’re more of a low-maintenance kind of person, you could just rip up some rags and use those instead.
Just be sure to wash your wipes between uses. Otherwise, ewww. And washing doesn’t mean just a quick trip through the washer – they need to be sanitized by washing them in hot water (at least 160°F) for a minimum of 25 minutes. Then throw them into a hot dryer, just for good measure.
So consider how much extra water and electricity need to be consumed per week for maintenance.
4. Bamboo toilet paper
Bamboo toilet paper is exactly what it sounds like: toilet paper made from bamboo instead 🎋 of trees. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on earth; its fastest variety can grow up to 35 inches per day!
By using bamboo toilet paper instead of traditional rolls, you’re preventing thousands of trees from being cut down. And since bamboo grows at a phenomenal rate, the supply is easily replenished.
It’s also environmentally friendly in other ways; companies that produce bamboo toilet paper tend to shy away from chlorine bleaching. They’re in the T.P. business to make a difference, so they prefer to utilize eco-friendly bleaching alternatives.
So we already know that bamboo grows like a weed, is easily replenished, and uses fewer resources in the manufacturing process. What else does bamboo toilet paper have going for it?
Well, for starters, toilet paper made from bamboo is soft as heck. It’s also strong, so you don’t have to worry about it crumbling into pieces when you’re trying to use it.
So it will break down, but only when it’s supposed to; bamboo toilet paper is 100% biodegradable, making it safe for septic systems and less likely to clog compared to traditional toilet paper.
But(t) at the end of the day, the choice is yours 🍑