If you’re looking to incorporate some easy sustainable swaps into your life there is no better place to start than with your butt. Why? Well, about 27,000 trees are flushed into the sewer systems as toilet paper every day. That means there are a LOT of trees getting the axe (quite literally) so we can wipe our bums.
This rate of deforestation is alarming, especially in Canada’s boreal forest, which is a significant source of timber for toilet paper. According to the NRDC, logging in Canada’s boreal emits at least 26 million metric tons of carbon every yer (the equivalent of 5.5 million passenger vehicles).
So how can you help? You can switch to an eco-friendly toilet paper.
But What is Eco-Friendly Toilet Paper Made of?
There are two main options: Recycled Paper & Bamboo.
Toilet paper made up of virgin fiber has three times more climate impact as toilet paper made from recycled content. This is due to the fact that post-consumer recycled materials do not require fresh wood to be harvested, nor are the chemicals used in processing nearly as toxic. With that said, not all recycled material is created equally. When evaluating recycled options one should look for a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content. These fibers reduce waste and facilitate a market for the recycling industry, allowing the circular economy to create jobs and provide a more sustainable waste disposal method.
Bamboo is another excellent alternative to traditional hardwood trees. It grows at an astonishing rate (35 inches per day) and then re-grows without the need to be replanted. It also doesn’t require pesticides, making it pretty low maintenance (my kind of plant). However, most bamboo is grown in China, which means transportation can increase the carbon footprint. It’s also unclear if there are any regulations being followed in China when it comes to land clearing and harvest intensity.
So Which Sustainable Toilet Paper Should I Pick?
Here are my top 9 preferences based on research and personal use. Let me know which one you go with!
9. Marley’s Monster’s Toilet Unpaper
$36 for 24 Reusable Strips (use code MOSTLYECOMORGAN for 10% off)
Alright, so this is the only reusable option I’m going to touch on because truthfully the thought of reusing toilet paper does kind of gross me out. BUT if you use a bidet (like this one from Tushy) and you’re really just using toilet paper to dry off, this may be a good option. The handmade squares are made from 100% cotton flannel and are designed to become more absorbent with each wash. Many reviewers note that they’re “surprisingly happy” with their switch to this more eco-friendly toilet paper option.
$69 for 36 Three-Ply Rolls ($1.92 / roll)
Tushy’s toilet paper is made with 100% unbleached, silky-strong bamboo fibers. It comes in plastic-free packaging and is chlorine-free. However, at $69 for 36 rolls, this is the most expensive deal on this list. That’s likely because where Tushy really shines is its bidets. If you’re interested in lessening your dependence on any type of toilet paper, I’d suggest investing in one. They’re easy to install and (bonus!) every one sold, helps fund the build-out of clean toilets for the urban and rural poor.
$32 for 24 Three-Ply Rolls ($1.33 / roll)
Bippy is another Bamboo toilet paper brand. According to its website it’s super soft, fragrance free and biodegradable. It comes in plastic-free packaging and both the cores and the boxes are recyclable and compostable. Their bamboo is sourced from FSC-certified farms in China (that’s about as in detail as they get). I haven’t used this one personally, but according to The Reduce Report the texture is a little rough, which is why it didn’t crack the top 5 of this list.
$45 for 32 Three-ply rolls ($1.40 / roll)
This BPA, formaldehyde-free toilet paper is made from FSC-certified bamboo. PlantPaper’s cartons and shipping boxes are 100% recycled, recyclable, compostable and free of dyes and coating. The company even claims that their entire supply chain is 100% plastic-free. One thing to note, this paper does have a hint of yellow to it because it hasn’t been bleached to a crisp white like you’re probably used to. Might not be the most aesthetic option, but certainly a good choice if your main concern is potential toxicity.
5. No. 2
$34 for 24 Three-Ply Rolls ($1.41 / roll)
No. 2 claims to be strong, silky to the touch and it comes in plastic-free, 100% recycled packaging. My experience with No. 2 is that it’s fine. I personally didn’t find it any less or more silky than the other bamboo options I tried, but it made for a comfortable wipe and got the job done. The rolls also come wrapped in fun trendy prints if that’s your bathroom vibe. I hesitate to strongly recommend this brand due to a line in this article. The founder was asked about the type of bamboo used and her response implied that there aren’t different kinds of bamboo (in reality there are several types). Based on that statement I’m inclined to believe that the company was created just to make a buck rather than being the brainchild of an entrepreneur with a passion for sustainability.
4. Seventh Generation
$9.29 for 12 Two-Ply Rolls (.77 cents / roll)
This very affordable bathroom tissue is made from 100% recycled paper and is whitened without the use of chlorine bleach. There are no added dyes, inks or fragrances and the paper is Rainforest Alliance Certified. It’s sold at a variety of retailers, such as Walmart and Amazon, making it accessible to the masses. It also comes in small quantities, making it attractive for those in compact living spaces. The downside is that it comes in plastic packaging.
3. Bim Bam Boo
$29.99 for 24 Two-Ply Rolls ($1.25 / roll)
Bim Bam Boo markets itself as the eco-friendly toilet paper for those with sensitive skin. As its name suggests, it is made from Bamboo (although unclear if it’s FSC-certified or not). It is hypoallergenic and comes in plastic-free packaging. My favorite part about this company though, is that it’s woman-owned and unlike many of the others on this list, it clearly states its commitment to diversity and social justice. It’s team consists of 60% BIPOC and 40% white people. They’ve also committed to devoting 80% of their partnerships budget to brown & black-led organizations.
$29.99 for 24 Three-Ply Rolls ($1.25 / roll)
Reel toilet paper is made from 100% ethically sourced bamboo and is biodegradable. Beyond that, the company uses their funds for good by providing toilets to communities in need across the world. This effort helps prevent the spread of disease and protects aquatic eco systems. I personally used this toilet paper for several months and found it to be great. It’s 3-ply, so pretty thick, however it’s not as soft as your traditional toilet paper (something you’ll just have to get used to regardless of which eco-friendly toilet paper you pick).
1. Who Gives a Crap
$48 for 48 Rolls of Three-Ply Recycled Toilet Paper; $52 for 48 Rolls of Bamboo Toilet Paper ($1 / roll; $1.08 / roll)
Who Gives a Crap is my number one choice for eco-friendly toilet paper. They have both recycled and bamboo options. They claim the bamboo is softer, but I personally buy the recycled kind. It’s less and expensive and the more sustainable option, given that it requires significantly less energy and it is giving a second life to a product that has already been used (whereas with bamboo you’re taking a virgin fiber and creating another new thing). Despite it being “less soft,” I find it to provide a perfectly comfortable wipe. Like Reel, the company donates a portion of its profits to build toilets, but unlike Reel, it discloses exactly how much it donates (50% of profits if you were wondering). The transparency, variety of options and commitment to both social and environmental impact makes it my top pick.