In the guide below, we discuss what the best eco friendly and sustainable toilet paper options might be.
We’ve provided some buyer’s tips on what to potentially look out for, along with listing and summarising some of the more prominent brands and products right now.
Summary – Finding The Best Eco Friendly & Sustainable Toilet Paper
What Might Be Some Of The Most Sustainable Types Of Toilet Paper?
We’ve previously put together a separate guide where we compare regular, recycled and bamboo toilet paper in terms of their potential sustainability
However, as a summary, some specific features of the best eco friendly and sustainable toilet paper products at each stage of the process might be:
– Material It’s Made From
The most eco friendly option might be 100% pre or post consumer recycled paper
Pre consumer sources might include wood off cuts or wood chips, and post consumer might include sources like home or office paper
Check that it’s not partially recycled (i.e. only 50% made with recycled paper)
Sustainably grown bamboo toilet paper may also be reasonably sustainable. Sugarcane may also be acceptable as a paper feedstock
Paper made from virgin forests, even if they are from sustainably managed (containing a sustainable forestry certification in a particular country – like the plantation tree forests (grown specifically for timber harvest), might be the least eco friendly.
Some companies do replant one or multiple trees for every tree they cut down, so look for the company’s cutting and replanting process too
– Sourcing & Certification
In-person 3rd party auditing and accreditation that guarantees that the product is sustainable and ethical from an eco and worker’s rights perspective might be desirable
– Chemical Mix Used To Make Paper Pulp
Recycled paper still uses a chemical mix to break down the different types of recycled paper (after metal staples and other materials are removed) and make a recycled paper pulp
Bamboo fibres need to be extracted from the bamboo plant, and a chemical mix is used to do this – although it’s a different chemical mix used compared to what is used for bamboo textiles
Regular toilet paper obviously uses a chemical mix to turn the wood fibres into a paper pulp
Some companies re-use (once or twice) their chemical mix, and then treat it to remove as many harmful chemicals as possible before releasing it as water waste – this is the most eco friendly option
– Chemicals Used To Treat The Paper
Chemicals may or may not be used to whiten, color and scent the toilet paper
The most eco friendly paper ideally shouldn’t use any harmful chemicals, although even the most eco friendly options might use at least some bleach or chlorine to whiten their papers or for coloring and scenting
So, look for how much overall chemicals are used in the product – the bleach, dye/ink, and fragrances/scenting used
Some toilet paper can include very small amounts of BPAs in them – even recycled toilet paper.
But, this might be a small concern though amongst everything else
– Resources Used, & Environmental Footprint Of The Production Process
The growing, production and delivery processes use electricity and energy, water, land and other resources
Generally, recycled and bamboo toilet paper use less resources and have smaller eco footprints than regular virgin tree toilet papers.
But, look for info from the toilet paper company on their footprints and resource usage based on the individual products they offer and their specific production processes.
Stats on energy and resources efficiency of the toilet paper process are what you might look for
– Packaging, & Toilet Paper Roll/Core
Generally, you want to look for recycled paper packaging over plastic packaging.
And, bigger packages with more rolls saves on total packages (so does less individual roll wrapping)
No toilet paper roll core, or at least recycled cardboard cores, are best from a sustainability point of view
– Locally Made, & Transport & Delivery
Some people may also want to check it’s sourced and made in their country (locally) and not internationally – this can sometimes decrease the sustainability footprint
Transport and delivery can also have a carbon footprint (fuels burn greenhouse gases)
Manufacturing local doesn’t always cut down the greenhouse gas footprint as ship freight can be more efficient than local road freight
Look for specific statements from the company on their transport footprint
A company that delivers to your door may be adding to their carbon footprint instead of delivering in bulk to a retail store – so you might ask about this before you buy
Other Potential Buying Considerations
Regular and bamboo might be softest, but it depends on the product, and thickness or number of plys
Regular and bamboo might be strongest, but it depends on the product, and the thickness or number of plys
Regular TP tends to be cheapest, but recycled and bamboo are still very reasonably priced and competitive i.e. they are not much more in price compared to the environmental benefits
– Money Back Guarantee
Some bamboo and recycled toilet paper brands offer a money back guarantee if you find their product isn’t to your satisfaction
– Social and Corporate Responsibility
Some brands donate a portion of their profits to social causes like building toilet for communities who don’t have access to them.
Contributing to social causes may be important to you
Takes into consideration that the toilet paper works as it’s supposed to, and looks, feels and smells to a level that the consumer finds satisfactory
The toilet paper should be able to be produced at a level that people are satisfied to pay.
Also, job creation should be taken into consideration
Things A Buyer Might Look For When Buying Sustainable Toilet Paper
Some things a buyer might look for on the packaging of a toilet paper product, or the company website, might be:
– Use Of Different Resources During Sourcing & Production
Information from the company on how much water, land, energy and other resources it takes to produce their product
– Use Of Chemicals
Ideally uses as little chemicals as possible including pulping chemical mix, bleaches, dyes/inks and scenting fragrances
If minimal bleaching is done, it ideally uses oxygen, ozone, sodium hydroxide, or hydrogen peroxide (which is naturally occurring) over chlorine dioxide
When inks and dyes are used – potentially more eco friendly inks like soy inks might be more desirable
Product is BPA free
The waste water is re-used or treated before being disposed of
– Carbon Footprint
Information on the overall carbon footprint (including how they freight and deliver their product – local road freight can be more damaging than international sea freight)
Paper packaging that can be recycled might be more sustainable in some ways than single us plastic
Also, using less material in the packaging is desirable over more material. Individually wrapped rolls adds to waste and overall footprint. But, generally, individual wrapping is needed to keep each roll moisture free and hygienic during shipping when paper wrapping is used
Also, bigger rolls, or more rolls in a bulk package also saves more packaging waste compared to smaller rolls, or smaller packages overall with less rolls
Using recycled cardboard cores in each roll, or no core at all, might also be desirable from a packaging point of view
– Local Sourcing
You may want to check it is sourced and manufactured in your home country as opposed to overseas – local sourcing may have a lower sustainability footprint in some cases
– Measuring Sustainability
Information from the company on exactly how they measure their eco friendliness, sustainability and social impact
– Contributing To Causes
Some companies may give a % of profits to social causes like building toilets and sanitation/waste systems for those who can’t afford them
– Limitations On Sustainability
Something to note though is that there are some limitations to how eco friendly a toilet paper products can be
For example, essentially all TP needs to chemically pulped, bleached/whitened, and needs to be wrapped/packaged in some way.
So, tradeoffs might be made to offer certain benefits for products (such as performance and certain traits of the TP)
Examples Of Brands That Offer ‘Eco Friendly & Sustainable’ Toilet Paper Products
We have no affiliation with the following companies, but based on our research, these companies offer some of the more prominent eco friendly and sustainable TP products on the market at the tim of publishing this guide:
– Who Gives A Crap
Offers both bamboo and recycled toilet paper options.
50% of profits go to help building new toilets worldwide to those who don’t have them.
Also offers a money back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied with the product
– Pure Planet
Made from 100% bamboo and sugarcane recycled waste material from the manufacturing industry.
No plastic packaging
Offers bamboo toilet paper, that is not chemical bleached and has no BPAs, and has no plastic packaging
– Seventh Generation
Uses a minimum of 50% post consumer recycled toilet paper
– Georgia Pacific Envision
Contains at least 25% post consumer recycled paper, and meets some other eco standards in the production of their toilet paper
Each company and products has it’s pros and cons, and can change their processes and offerings over time
So, check what their current offers and product details at the time you buy.
Zero Waste Toilet Paper
A good zero waste toilet paper might:
Have 100% post consumer recycled
Have recycled plastic packaging
Have a recycled cardboard core, or no core at all
Come in one single box, with one piece of packaging instead of individually wrapped rolls
Re-use and treat the waste water in the production process that contain chemicals for pulping, as well as the bleach, and dye waste water
Organic Toilet Paper
There aren’t really any toilet paper products branded specifically as organic on the market yet.
But, bamboo and recycled toilet papers are the closest to organic at the moment.
You might buy the toilet paper products that:
Use very little or the least environmentally harmful chemicals for pulping
Use little to no bleach, or at least use alternative chemicals to chlorine dioxide
Use reduced ink/dye and scents/fragrances
Use recycled paper (from office, school and household paper waste) or bamboo (bamboo uses no fertilizer or pesticide) over virgin forest paper
Something to note is that toilet papers that use little to no bleach or chemicals, may look brown or less white, and may not be as soft as regular toilet paper.
But, it depends on the individual product.
Vegan Toilet Paper
Doublecheckvegan.com has a good guide on vegan toilet papers
Overall, Is Toilet Paper Actually Eco Friendly & Sustainable Compared To Other Options?
Options other than toilet paper might include:
– Toilet wash flannels/cloths
These are essentially the same material washable baby diapers are made of
Washable flannels are generally not desirable for most people in developed countries because of the ‘yuck’ factor and health/hygiene concerns.
Bidets might be on a similar level of eco friendliness and sustainability as recycled toilet paper and bamboo toilet paper – but, that’s a generalisation.
– Wet wipes
Wet wipes can be ruled out right now because of the pipe blockage problems they can cause (both on private property and at the public level), and the concerns raised with their true level of biodegradability and compostability.
This may change in the future though if manufacturers are able to make 100% guaranteed to disintegrate wipes that don’t contain plastic or any synthetic chemicals
– Comparing TP vs bidets vs wet wipes
Read more here in this TP vs Bidet vs Wet Wipes Comparison Guide.
– Other ways to go to the toilet
1. Various toilet paper company sites (checking their products, how they are made, and stats or information given on sustainability of the growing and manufacturing processes)