When I started this journey of sustainable living I didn’t even consider that changing my toilet roll would come into it. But when you are out shopping next, take a look at the toilet rolls on offer and you’ll see they all come packaged in plastic and the majority are using newly made paper from our precious trees. So over the past 3+ months, I’ve been on a mission to find some good eco alternatives to the traditional toilet roll.
Worryingly, in 2018 it was discovered that the UK are the third largest users of toilet roll globally, with the USA topping the charts. When we think about how many trees we will use in a lifetime, then per person we will need to cut down 384 trees just for one person in a lifetime with our current usage rates. That’s a heck of a lot of trees just for wiping our bums?!
So with the UK being one of the worst offenders of toilet roll usage, it is only right we should try our best to use eco-friendly alternatives. In this post I simply am showing you the options out there to try. I haven’t tried them all but as I do, I’ll be putting up links to my reviews which you’ll see throughout the post if they apply. I hope this post encourages you to rethink your toilet roll purchases, as small changes like this can make a big difference globally if we can encourage more people to make the swap.
What to look out for when buying eco toilet roll?
There are a few things to consider when deciding what toilet roll to purchase:
- Recyclable and minimal packaging
You want to avoid buying toilet roll with any plastic wrapping and ideally anything that it does come wrapped in should be recyclable, biodegradable or even compostable. There are some brands which wrap up their toilet rolls in individual wrappers, you need to decide here if this unnecessary paper is something you need or can you buy completely bare toilet rolls instead.
- Recycled paper or alternative fibres toilet roll paper
What the actual toilet roll is made from should be an important consideration to your purchase. You want to avoid virgin wood pulp as there is no need to cut down forests to make toilet roll to ultimately wipe our bums! If it has the label FSC Mix, this it will be made using virgin wood pulp so you should try and avoid this. Instead opt for recycled paper or alternative fibres such as those made from bamboo or agricultural waste. It’s important that if using alternative fibres, that it is sustainably sourced still, so you want to look out for the FSC stamp when buying bamboo toilet paper for example.
- Avoid Chlorine bleached toilet roll
Many toilet roll companies will use bleach in the making of their toilet roll. You need to find the brands that are free from elemental chlorine (ECF) as this is the most environmentally safe ways to bleach toilet rolls. I haven’t found any brands yet that don’t bleach toilet roll at all.
Bumboo is my latest toilet paper that I am giving a try. It came in a big box of 48 rolls, which I ordered to reduce the deliveries needed. Yes it’s a lot of toilet roll coming in one go but as long as you have storage for it, then it will now last us a long time and environmentally it’s better than regular deliveries.
Bumboo toilet roll is made from 100% bamboo pulp, which comes from the Sichuan province in China. No chemical insecticides, pesticides or fertilisers are used and bamboo is ethically sourced and is FSC certified. However, their paper is bleached but is free from elemental chlorine (ECF) so is considered one of the most environmentally safe ways to bleach paper.
Whilst Bumboo admit creating this product in China and then shipping it over to the UK is not the greatest option, they’ve said they are always trying to find sources nearer to the UK and off-set their carbon footprint by planting a tree for every box of toilet rolls purchased. So it is a high consideration for the brand and something they are continuously looking into, which is something I like about their brand transparency and truthfulness.
Bumboo do offer the rolls in either individually wrapped paper or ‘naked’. They have done many trials and have checked that there has been no negative impact on product quality by offering this ‘naked’ option. This was one of the reasons I chose to order Bumboo as it offered this packaging-free option. The price is around 71p per roll and there is 300 sheets per roll, if you subscribed to 48 rolls and used only the package free toilet rolls. The quality of these rolls is great and is really soft – I have no complaints so far!
Who Gives A Crap
This was the first eco toilet roll I tried and they offer 2 options, either the cheaper 100% recycled toilet roll or the more expensive bamboo toilet rolls, both sourced and made in China. This is one of the more expensive brands, with the recycled rolls coming out at around 75p each and the bamboo costing 83p per roll.
I was attracted to this brand mainly due to their funky branding if I’m honest – it was the first eco-toilet roll I had tried so ordered a box of 24 and at first was extremely happy to be buying recycled loo roll that was completely plastic free. But as time went on I got annoyed that each roll was individually wrapped in paper. It has been proven that for paper to be seen as an environmentally-friendly packaging option, then it needs to be re-used four times. Whilst many have said they reuse the individual wrappers for gifts etc, something just doesn’t sit right with me here and I don’t believe everyone who uses this toilet roll does reuse it. Therefore I question its sustainability from a packaging perspective. Who Gives A Crap say they are individually wrapped for hygiene reasons and keeps the paper moisture free, however, if other brands can send un-wrapped rolls then I question why it’s an issue for this company?
That being said I do also admire how Who Gives A Crap give so much to charity. They give 50% of their profits to clean water charities globally such as WaterAid. So whilst the toilet roll is on the more expensive side, you know you are helping a good cause too. Their rolls are also 400 sheets which seem to be the biggest I’ve come across, so you don’t have to buy as many due to them being larger rolls than many competitors and they are also three-ply, so softer than competitors such as Greencane. The recycled tissue rolls are of course not as soft as their bamboo – it’s definitely worth trying both options to see which is the best for you and your family.
As you can see I’ve got very mixed reviews on this brand, but nevertheless, if you’re happy to pay the price of the toilet roll then it is a good eco alternative to many of the brands we see in supermarkets, and the advantage of this brand is their kindness to charity initiatives which does go well beyond competitors from what is advertised on their sites.
Greencane is made from a mix of 50% bamboo and 50% recycled sugarcane, both sourced in China where it grows in surplus. It does use bleaching, but again is Chlorine free. It is a two-ply roll, so doesn’t feel as soft as some of your more luxury toilet rolls or those that are fully made from bamboo, and and is middle of the ground in terms of price point at around 53p per roll. It isn’t one I have tried but I do like the fact you can buy small quantities of this toilet roll all in sustainable packaging.
Ecoleaf is another brand of toilet roll I haven’t yet tried but I am including it because it is one of the brands that is made in the UK, using recycled paper. It is one of the cheapest options costing 49p per roll, but only has 200 sheets and is a two-ply roll, therefore is likely to be noticeably less-soft that other brands listed above. The packaging is in a compostable bag which is good but it says it isn’t suitable for home composting, which is rather confusing as to why not. So you’d need to check with your local council as to whether this goes in in the food waste bin or normal landfill depending on your councils recycling facilities. The fact this toilet roll is made in the UK means it’s carbon footprint will be much lower as the product doesn’t need to travel as far, so this is a big plus point for this toilet roll brand.
Will you try a more sustainable brand of toilet roll? Or have you tried another brand not listed that you can recommend? Do get in touch with me either in the comments, email or on Instagram @becominggreenuk as I’d love to hear from you.