Long before the Coronavirus hit, we (the creators of Idealish) began looking into our personal relationships with toilet paper. Before we get into the deforestation heartbreak of what we have learned, eco-friendly toilet paper companies and alternatives (including bidets!), let me just say that part of our mission at Idealish is to highlight what we strive to do and embrace the times when we end up doing the exact opposite. In times like these, when the public demand for toilet paper is currently in a panic state, we are at the mercy of availability, which isn’t always the “best option”. Even some of the options below are behind in production (apart from the bidet section – if you are open to an amazing way to save toilet paper and trees!). We are imperfect humans, but we like to educate ourselves on making better choices when possible.
In the words of Oprah, “When you know better, you do better.” Well, that is the goal, but with exceptions, right? During this quarantine, I have been reminded of my weaknesses for boxed macaroni and cheese and maple brown sugar oatmeal with butter. I know both are less than optimal for my health, and I am literally reading a book about a paleo diet (aka the evilness of processed foods). Yet, I find comfort and small bouts of joy in the taste of these pantry items – which I have since justified as just that – pantry items that must get used up before the next trip to the store! Although I knowingly went out of my way to purchase these delicious evils in my last big shop, I find solace in buying organic and palm oil-free versions of both. Ideal-ish, you see.
I digress. I just have SO much to say these days! Anyhow, since toilet paper is on everyone’s minds, I can’t think of a better time to discuss the problem with our desire for the softest toilet tissue and suggest some alternative, tree-saving options.
The Problem: Luxury Toilet Brands & Deforestation
About a year ago, the Guardian published an article titled Wiped out: America’s love of luxury toilet paper is destroying Canadian forests, summarizing the findings of a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Stand.earth. They noted that although Americans only make up 4% of the population, we use over 20% of the world’s toilet paper supply. In addition, our (particularly American) demand for the softest of the soft has led big corporations to deny using more sustainable materials in their lines of toilet paper, which is significantly adding to deforestation.
Part of the problem is that the super-soft, ultra-quilted, multi-ply toilet paper that we have come to love comes directly from the long fibers of virgin pulp (trees). The softer the tissue, the more trees are being flushed down the train. The big companies who are raking in the most cash are willingly overlooking the environmental damage they are causing because we are regularly buying from them, and changing their product might reduce their sales. You see, the fibers of bamboo and recycled materials are shorter than the long fibers of virgin pulp and just don’t equate to the level of luxury to which we have become accustomed.
Anthony Swift, director, Canada Project, NRDC: “Most Americans probably do not know that the toilet paper they flush away comes from ancient forests, but clear-cutting those forests is costing the planet a great deal. Maintaining the Canadian boreal forest is vital to avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.” (Source of quote: here).
Some of the worst offenders include Proctor and Gamble (i.e., Charmin) and Costco’s Kirkland brand. Remember those commercials of super-soft toilet paper with puppies? Imagine if they showed the reality instead:
Yes, I am a spoiled American, and I like soft, plushy things, but how can I justify acres upon acres of forest destruction just so that I can wipe my bottom with the softest tissue? The good news is, not all toilet paper is created equally.
Some brands use more recycled fibers than straight virgin tree pulp, and a number of independent toilet paper companies are coming to rise that offer some of the most sustainable toilet paper on the market. For the best of the best, see Independent Alternative Toilet Paper Brands below. For the last-minute grocery run or quick Amazon shop, Green Forest is a great option, containing 90% post-consumer recycled content. See the left image for more options based upon the NRDC’s scorecard.
Image source: NRDC
Independent Alternative Toilet Paper Brands
Who Gives A Crap?
Who Gives A Crap was the first online-based toilet paper supplier that turned me into a recycled TP lover. In addition to being toilet paper rockstars, they donate half of their profits to help build toilets for those in need. About six months ago, I wanted to test their 100% forest-friendly bamboo against their 100% recycled version of toilet paper, so I bought boxes of both (which only come in bulk orders of 24 or 48 rolls). I do travel a lot, but I am pleased to say I still have some stock left, which is fantastic news in times like these. Both of these 3-ply toilet tissues are free of dyes, inks, and scents. The recycled option is cheaper, and honestly, I like it a little better than their bamboo version. That said, I am eager to try out the other bamboo toilet papers listed below!
Current status: They are behind in production, but you can join their waiting list and they will email you when they have stock.
Tip: Their current subscribers are still getting their regular deliveries. Maybe consider subscribing when things get back to normal?
Bippy creates a soft, 3-ply bamboo toilet paper sourced 100% from FSC-certified bamboo farms in China. They send their product in boxes made of 100% recycled materials, and plant-based, bio-degradable tape. If you are the type of person who likes wet wipes (which often use virgin tree pulp and are woven in plastic so that they never bio-degrade), try their chemical-free, plastic-free, toilet paper foam instead. Side note: last week, they donated thousands of rolls and wet-wipe alternatives to communities in need.
Status: While the foam is available, their supply of toilet paper is currently behind.
Tip: If you put yourself on the waitlist for this item now, while they are out, they will send you a 10% -off discount for your order and email you when they are back in stock.
Image source: Bippy
Number Two creates a silky, 3-ply toilet tissue made of 100% bamboo, and wraps each role in a stylish, recycled paper (printed with soy ink) to jazz up any bathroom. I’ll spare you the details on how Number Two prides themselves on ‘95% less butt-crumble’, but that is a thing that they unabashedly advertise.
Status: They are behind in production, but you can currently pre-order a box of 48 rolls for $46 and it will be ready to ship between April 30-May 9.
Tip: Sound like a long time? Let’s take this time to plan ahead. Maybe we are stuck using whatever we can find now, but why not change our consumer pattern going forward?
Image source: No. 2
Bidets: The Ultra Toilet Paper Alternative
No toilet paper? No problem. Bidets are more cost-effective for your wallet, more sanitary for your bottom and more eco-friendly. According to Scientific American’s article, Wipe or Wash? Do Bidets Save Forest and Water Resources?, making the switch to bathroom bidets could save 15 million trees. Why haven’t I thought of this before? Oh, because I’m an American seeped in tradition and convenience. Earlier this month, Business Insider posted this short video about why Americans haven’t caught on to this bathroom experience that began in the 1700s and has since evolved with insane technological advances.
You can find adapters on Amazon for under $28 or check out Hello Tushy’s spa options (I found their how-to very helpful). Keep an eye out for our bidet review articles, coming soon!
Thank you for reading this article! Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below.