It’s crazy to think about how many natural resources we go through on a daily basis. It can sometimes feel like we’re literally flushing trees down the toilet because, well, we are. Toilet paper is one of the most unnecessary uses of a resource that takes over 30 years to grow. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
There are quite a number of eco-friendly, tree-free toilet papers available now. The only issue is finding the right one. In this guide, we’ll go over the factors you should consider when choosing the right eco-friendly toilet paper for you. At the end, we also have a list of our 10 favorites to help you get started.
How to Choose Eco-Friendly Toilet Paper – Buying Guide
Picking toilet paper is a very intimate decision, so keep your own situation and preferences in mind as you consider your options.
Look for Tree-Free Materials Like Recycled Paper and Bamboo
When it comes to the materials eco-friendly toilet papers are made from, there are two main options: recycled paper and bamboo. Each has their strengths and weaknesses, so it’s good to be aware of the differences before you make your purchase.
Recycled Paper Is Resourceful but Can Be Rough
Recycled paper may be the most eco-friendly toilet paper option as it uses no new resources and makes use of materials that would otherwise go to waste.
However, due to inconsistencies in the paper used as well as the process of turning already processed paper into further processed paper, toilet paper made from recycled materials can feel rougher or less soft than paper made from virgin wood.
Bamboo Is Sustainable and Comfortable
Bamboo seems to be the material of the moment. It’s fast growing, sustainable, requires no pesticides or fertilizer, and can be used in much the same way wood is without as large of an ecological impact. Since it comes from virgin material, bamboo toilet paper tends to be quite a bit softer on average than recycled paper.
1-Ply Uses Less Material, but 2- or 3-Ply Is Softer
When deciding which ply to buy, you’ll probably need to make some tradeoffs. On one hand, single-ply uses less material and gives you two to five times more sheets per roll than a higher ply. But, it can feel rougher and be less comfortable when wiping.
On the other hand, 2- or 3-ply paper is noticeably softer on your behind, which can be especially important if it’s made from a naturally less soft material. But it uses more material, and you’ll likely find yourself going through rolls at a much faster rate.
Look for Toilet Paper That’s Free from Harmful Chemicals
In the process of turning trees into the soft white paper you use to wipe your bum, some pretty strong chemicals are often employed to process it.
Chemicals such as bleach, chlorine, and BPA are often found in rolls of toilet paper made from both trees as well as recycled paper. These chemicals can be harmful for both us and the environment, and it’s best to look for paper that explicitly states it’s made without them.
A side note: Recycled toilet paper does contain trace amounts of BPA that comes from recycled thermal receipt paper, newspaper, and so on. But don’t worry, it’s in incredibly small concentrations–simply reading a newspaper would expose you to more BPA than wiping recycled toilet paper would. Still, it’s up to you to decide if you would rather just avoid the risk altogether.
Septic Safe Paper Breaks Down Quickly and isn’t Just for RVs
If you have a septic toilet, you probably already know that you need to buy toilet paper that’s specifically designed to break down in your system. For those who don’t have septic toilets, however, it can still make sense to buy toilet paper that’s septic safe.
For one thing, having toilet paper that will break down quickly will help prevent any (toilet paper-related) pipe blockages, which can give some peace of mind to those who live in older buildings.
More importantly, though, septic safe paper that breaks down quickly won’t end up in the landfill. While all toilet papers are designed to break down before it reaches the solid waste filtration level of the sanitation process, quite a bit of it actually doesn’t dissolve and ends up contributing to waste.
Tube-Free Rolls Reduce Waste Further
While most toilet paper comes wrapped around a cardboard tube to help retain shape, when you think about it, those tubes aren’t totally necessary. So some manufacturers have done away with them completely.
If you’re focused on reducing waste, then a tube-free roll might be something you want to look for. Just note that the paper might not unroll as smoothly and can look a little messy as you get toward the end.
Official Seals and Logos Add Legitimacy to Claims
If you’re looking for some assurance as to a toilet paper’s eco-friendly claims, a quick way to check is to look for any seals and logos from official agencies. Some of the more common ones you’ll find are Green Seal, EcoLogo, and the Forest Stewardship Council certification.
However, it’s important to remember that just because a product has a green label doesn’t automatically make it a quality product. On a similar note, if a product doesn’t have a seal, that doesn’t make it a bad product, either.
Top 10 Best Eco-Friendly Toilet Papers to Buy Online
Now that you know what to look for, here are our 10 favorites for you to consider.
10. Georgia-Pacific Envision 2-Ply Embossed Toilet Paper (80 Rolls)
Price: $46.99 ($0.59 per roll)
Huge Pack of Certified Recycled Paper
This toilet paper is made from 100% recycled material and has all the certifications to prove it. It’s a good, middle-line toilet paper–definitely not soft, but with enough cushion not to irritate. Though to be fair, it might not be good for sensitive skin.
It comes in a huge 80-roll pack that can last a family several months. However, as this pack is designed for use in public spaces, each roll comes individually wrapped, which is irritating at best and wasteful at worst.
|Official Certifications||Eco Logo, Green Seal, EPA Compliant|
9. Scott Tube-Free Toilet Paper (24 Rolls)
Price: $15.99 ($0.67 per roll)
Roll-Free for Less Waste
If you’re looking to cut down on bathroom waste and trash in general, this tube free toilet paper could be exactly what you’re looking for. Despite being single-ply, this paper is soft, cushiony, and feels quite luxurious on your bottom.
However, due to the lack of a tube, you might find it hard to get the roll on your holder, and it can start to unravel towards the end. This paper is also not made from completely recycled sources.
|Material||40% recycled paper|
8. Caboo Tree-Free Bamboo Toilet Paper (32 Rolls)
Price: $33.40 ($1.04 per roll)
Great for Those with Chemical Sensitivities
This toilet paper is made from two sustainable, fast-growing plants: bamboo and sugarcane. It is hypoallergenic and whitened with hydrogen peroxide instead of harmful chemicals.
However, despite being two-ply, the paper is quite thin, and you may find yourself using more to make up for it. It also isn’t as soft as a traditional two-ply, so you might be better off thinking of this as single-ply.
|Material||Bamboo and sugarcane|
|Free From||Chlorine, BPA, fragrances, parabens, and GMOs|
|Official Certifications||Non-GMO Project, 1% for the Planet|
7. Bim Bam Boo Tree-Free Toilet Paper for Sensitive Skin (24 Rolls)
Price: $28.00 ($1.16 per roll)
For Sensitive Skin and Robust Plumbing
This toilet paper is free from harmful chemicals and hypoallergenic. It’s comfortable on the skin, doesn’t leave behind any residue, and comes in plastic-free packaging.
However, though this toilet paper claims to be septic safe, several reviewers have noted that it doesn’t break down very well and may lead to problems in septic toilets as well as buildings with older pipes.
|Free From||Chlorine, formaldehyde, BPA, fragrances, dyes|
|Official Certifications||Forest Stewardship Council, USDA BioPreferred|
6. NooTrees Bamboo 3-Ply Bathroom Tissue (40 Rolls)
Price: $43.68 ($1.09 per roll)
Soft, Sturdy Bamboo Paper
This bamboo-based toilet paper is sturdy and softer than many eco-friendly options. The bamboo used is certified sustainably grown, and even the plastic wrapping is biodegradable.
However, it’s quite thin for three-ply, and some reviewers note that the surface can be a bit too smooth and requires you to scrunch instead of fold. So if you’re a folder, you might want to look for something with a bit more grab.
|Free From||Chlorine, formaldehyde, BPA, dyes|
|Official Certifications||Forest Stewardship Council|
5. WholeRoll Organic Toilet Paper (18 Rolls)
Price: $20.89 ($1.16 per roll)
Organic Paper for Conscious Consumers
For those who are conscious about the materials their toilet paper is made from, this one is top of the line. Made from organic bamboo, it’s fairly soft, sturdy, and doesn’t shed.
However, if you’re looking for pillowy soft, this isn’t going to be the toilet paper for you. Some reviewers also find it a bit stiffer than other options. But if you like some structure, great!
|Free From||Chlorine, BPA|
4. Rebel Green Tree Free Toilet Tissue (4 Rolls)
Price: $6.69 ($1.67 per roll)
Tree-Free and Carbon Neutral
This toilet paper is soft, durable, and comparable in feel to conventional toilet paper. It comes in a smaller pack, which could be good for those living alone or without much storage.
Additionally, in order to make up for the carbon used in transportation and processing, the company donates cookstoves to women in developing nations who would otherwise be cooking over dangerous, polluting open fires.
|Free From||Chlorine, BPA, GMOs|
3. Silk’n Soft Bamboo Toilet Paper (12 Rolls)
Price: $15.99 ($1.33 per roll)
Soft and Absorbent
This toilet paper is softer than most bamboo-based papers, doesn’t shed, and is quite strong. Plus, the plies stick together well, too, meaning you don’t have to worry about unraveling.
It’s pretty absorbent, and several reviewers have noted that these last longer than other bamboo rolls. Good thing too, since this toilet paper is also a bit more expensive.
|Free From||BPA, fragrances, formaldehyde|
2. Seventh Generation Recycled Unbleached Bathroom Tissue (12 Rolls)
Price: $21.17 ($1.76 per roll)
Great for Sensitive Skin
This toilet paper is about as untreated as you get and is ideal for those with chemical sensitivities. Despite its rough looks, it’s surprisingly soft for toilet paper made from 100% recycled materials with a minimum of 80% post-consumer fibers.
However, it is the most expensive product per-roll on this list and might not make financial sense to those who don’t need completely chemical-free paper.
|Free From||Chlorine, dye, fragrances,|
1. Green Forest Premium 100% Recycled Bathroom Tissue (48 Rolls)
Price: $54.80 ($1.41 per roll)
Indistinguishable from Conventional Toilet Paper
This 100% recycled toilet paper is made from at least 90% post-consumer recycled fibers–and only fibers of the highest grade at that. It’s thick, soft, and the plies hold together well.
Many reviewers note that this toilet paper is on par with conventional papers in terms of both look and feel and ahead of other recycled brands by leaps and bounds.
|Free From||Chlorine, fragrances, dyes|
Is Reusable Toilet Paper a Thing? Is It Safe?
Maybe you’re looking for something even more eco-friendly. After all, even recycled toilet paper technically goes to waste in the end. But if you’re thinking about more reusable options, you might want to think about it really carefully first (like, really carefully).
The first issue is hygiene, naturally. Whether you use it to clean up after just pee, or both pee and poo, used cloths are going to harbor some serious bacteria, and everything that comes into contact with it (including your washer, dryer, and any other laundry that you do with or after it) runs the risk of picking up some pretty gnarly germs.
Which leads to the next issue–unless you already do laundry every day, you’re probably going to have to do laundry much more often than you do now, which uses more water and electricity.
So unless you’ve got a bidet and are just using cloths to dry off after, it’s probably better to stick with disposable toilet paper.
There you have it–a quick guide to finding the best eco-friendly toilet paper for you. As with a lot of things that are better for the environment, you’re probably going to have to make some tradeoffs. But what’s a little inconvenience when you’re helping to save the world?
By Jacqueline Oshiro
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