We have a serious toilet paper problem. It’s estimated that the average American household uses more than 400 rolls of toilet paper per year. As a whole, that’s 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper down the toilet in the United States in 2021 alone… or 15 million trees.
The toilet paper industry is thought to account for up to 15% of deforestation worldwide. It also has a hefty water footprint, as just one roll uses 37 gallons. The single-use product has a pretty devastating impact on the environment, to say the least.
Thankfully, many companies are now creating and selling eco-friendly toilet paper options that are better for the planet.
Why Eco-Friendly Toilet Paper Is a Better Option
So, what exactly makes eco-friendly toilet paper… eco-friendly? Considering the largest issue with toilet paper is subsequent deforestation, toilet paper that uses alternative materials (like bamboo) are more sustainable. Similarly, options that use recycled materials circumvent the need to cut down more trees.
A little-known fact is that many toilet paper brands add formaldehyde to help the paper keep its shape, and use chlorine to bleach the pulp white. These chemicals, when flushed into waterways, are highly toxic for marine life. That’s why eco-friendly toilet paper isn’t as white and fluffy as what you see on store shelves; these chemicals aren’t used in the production process.
Keeping these elements in mind, we’ve rounded up some options that are both comfortable and sustainable.
3 Types of Eco-Friendly Toilet Paper to Try
1. Recycled Toilet Paper
Try It: Who Gives a Crap, $48 for 48 rolls
Perhaps the most common alternative to traditional toilet paper, post-consumer recycled (PCR) toilet paper takes advantage of existing materials rather than creating new ones.
Not all recycled toilet paper is PCR. Recycled toilet paper also includes toilet paper made from factory leftovers. While PCR toilet paper is the gold standard of recycled TP, all recycled toilet paper is significantly more sustainable than non-recycled, traditional toilet paper.
2. Bamboo Toilet Paper
Try It: Reel Toilet Paper, $33 for 24 rolls
Bamboo toilet paper is on the rise. (Our Scouts even gave it a try!) While it’s made the same way regular toilet paper is, bamboo is incredibly fast-growing. In fact, it can grow up to three feet per day and regrows naturally, making it an effortlessly regenerative plant. The bamboo plant also absorbs carbon dioxide and produces 35 percent more oxygen than trees.
If you buy bamboo toilet paper, just make sure it’s sustainably sourced. Check for FSC certified bamboo, which ensures no forests were harmed in the making of the toilet paper.
3. Reusable Cloth Toilet Paper
Try It: Marley’s Monsters Toilet UNpaper Roll, $26 for a 24-pack
If you’re totally over typical TP, you also have the option of trying a truly zero-waste, reusable cloth toilet paper. While it might seem a little weird at first, this eco-friendly toilet paper pick is made from 100% cotton flannel that’s soft, durable, and easy to wash.
Simply collect the toilet paper in a bin and wash it every 2 to 3 days. It can go straight into the washing machine, then tumble-dried on low or air-dried. While it requires some extra effort, it uses far less resources than any other flushable toilet paper.
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