The Zero Waste Bathroom: Sustainable Toilet Paper Edition

Ah, toilet paper. Have you ever wondered what people used to clean themselves with before paper was invented?I have, but I haven’t Googled the answer yet. Not sure I want to know! The issue for now, though, is this: toilet paper rolls can be very wasteful for the environment. For those of us who care about such things (hi!), are there sustainable toilet paper options for our zero waste bathroom?

After the kitchen, tackling bathroom waste is super important as well as difficult. We clean ourselves in the bathroom, so it makes sense that the waste products in the bathroom pile up pretty quickly. Toilet paper doesn’t come with a stellar reputation. To manufacture one roll of toilet paper requires 37 gallons of water, 1.5 pounds of wood and quite a bit of electricity. One roll! Now think about how many rolls we go through per household every month, year (Americans use 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper annually) and lifetime. It all adds up.

Plus, there are other drawbacks: the paper is whitened with chlorinated bleach, and the rolls come wrapped in plastic. 

It’s all not worth it.

So what is the best alternative to toilet paper? There are many!

There are eco-friendly toilet paper options (yay!) and cloth options (whut). And there are even more environmentally-friendly (and pocket-friendly) options as well. Let’s take a look.

 

SUSTAINABLE TOILET PAPER

Does Thrive market have toilet paper?

Recycled Toilet Paper

Yeah, this paper isn’t recycled from used toilet paper (how would that even work?). Basically, regular recycled paper is pulped at the factory and converted through various processes into useable toilet paper. 

Recycled toilet paper brands worth trying out include:

365 Bath Tissue

Earth First

Everspring Toilet Paper

Green Forest

Marcal

Seventh Generation

Who Gives A Crap

But is recycled toilet paper biodegradable? Well, since it’s made from paper, yes, it is. And if you’re a fan of outdoor camping, and want to take along biodegradable toilet paper, then this is your best option.

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Tree-Free Toilet Paper

Toilet paper production consumes millions of trees every year, and these forests take decades to recover. Just imagine the resulting effects on wildlife and indigenous communities because of this. This fact has given rise to “tree-free” toilet paper options, such as rolls made from bamboo.

According to the NRDC, bamboo-based products can be sustainable alternatives to those using virgin wood pulp, though they’re not quite as low-impact as post-consumer recycled products or alternative fibers from agricultural residue. But, tree-free toilet paper is free of trace BPA – which may be present in recycled paper.

sustainable toilet paper bamboo tushy

Bamboo grows quickly, and can be harvested more sustainably. It’s often combined with sugarcane fibres. Bamboo toilet paper can also be bought online. But since it’s the favorite food of the endangered pandas, it’s essential to look into ethical sourcing of bamboo toilet rolls. 

Bamboo toilet paper can be expensive, but you can save some money by using toilet paper subscription services.

Tree-free toilet paper brands worth trying out include:

Betterway

Bippy

Nature’s Greatest

Number Two

Public Goods

Pure Planet Club

Reel

Seedling by Grove

The Cheeky Panda

Thrive Market

Tushy

Who Gives A Crap

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Cloth Toilet Paper

Aka family cloth. These ‘toilet paper’ rolls are basically recycled cloth instead of paper (usually two layers of organic cotton flannel). Users place an enclosed container next to the toilet, where they discard used cloths after wiping their bums. 

People used this method back in the day, before commercial paper rolls were available. This method requires some dedication – since it isn’t as simple as ‘use and throw.’ You have to regularly clean and sanitize the cloths, and have an entire routine around that. Those who have experience with cloth diapers may feel less icky about using cloth rolls. Head here if you want details on how to use the ‘family cloth.’

I’m not entirely convinced about this, and the hygiene aspect is just one reason why. But don’t let my inhibitions stop you if you are interested in trying this out. You can make your own family cloth toilet paper, or buy them from:

Etsy Cloth Toilet Paper

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PAPER-FREE CLEANING (BIDETS)

bidet spray

Ok, so this is what I use. The bidet’s easy toilet attachment and the reduced water consumption (per use is estimated to use 1/8th of a gallon of water), apart from the super clean feeling after, make this a no-brainer option. An added bonus is all the money you’ll save over a lifetime of using a bidet versus toilet paper. If you’re feeling uncertain about the concept, just try it out before you dismiss this option. It’s a pretty common part of bathrooms around the world.

Bidet brands worth trying out include:

Bio Bidet SlimGlow

Brondell Thinline SimpleSpa

Tushy Classic

If you’re looking for a portable option, try this travel bidet.

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I hope this was a useful list. This post would have perhaps been more useful during the Toilet Paper Wars of 2020, but, oh, well. This is a much more long-lasting consideration for your zero waste bathroom than a (hopefully) short-lived pandemic panic:) 

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Read More About Sustainable & Zero Waste Items

Non Toxic Personal Care Products

Live A Zero Waste Lifestyle

Sustainable, Non Toxic Deodorants

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sustainable toilet paper websites

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What do you think?