Today’s post is all about sustainable loo roll. Or toilet tissue if you’re being a bit fancy. Whatever you like to call it, it’s something we all need in our lives.
Bidet, or not bidet
Remember those weird bidet basins in many 80s bathrooms that no-one knew how to use? Wonderful doll baths they were. My friend’s Mum used hers as a foot spa. I don’t think proper bidet use in the UK ever really caught on.
In some countries, such as France, you probably know that bidets are common for keeping derrières clean. In Asia, you might also have seen toilets that have hose attachments by the cistern. Turns out these aren’t for cleaning the loo in place of a brush (as I thought). No, they’e supposed to be used in place of toilet roll to rinse your bum. Lovely.
Now you can even get expensive toilets that have water sprayers built in. But these aren’t very mainstream. I’m not sure they’ll ever really catch on in the UK. And can you imagine using a public one? It’s hard to trust that it would be hygienic enough given how disgusting so many public toilets are.
So I reckon loo roll is here to stay for the foreseeable. With that, let me tell you about some greener options I rate.
Recycled toilet roll
I’m a big fan of Waitrose’s ECOlogical range generally. The toilet roll is one of my favourite products. It’s made from FSC recycled paper which is unbleached and free from nasty chemicals. You can get it in a 9-roll pack. It’s cheaper than most unrecycled toilet roll, at around 40 pence per roll.
If you’re wondering where it comes from and how it’s made, according to Waitrose this is the process:
- Recycled magazines, packaging and office waste paper are sorted and sent to a UK mill
- The mill washes the paper with water to remove printed ink, plastic and staples
- This paper pulp is pressed, hot air dried and rolled into reels or logs
- Excess water is extracted and used elsewhere in the factory
- The paper logs are cut into individual loo rolls
- Then, Bob’s your uncle
Well, they didn’t say that last bit.
Contrast this with conventional toilet paper that’s manufactured from wood pulp. This pulp usually comes from a high percentage of ‘virgin fibres’ (AKA wiping out our forests). It’s then infused with a cocktail of nasties and heavily bleached with chlorine to make it bright white and softer. This manufacturing process uses way more water and energy than the making of recycled rolls.
As you might expect, the ECOlogical toilet paper is a bit scratchier than some of the mainstream unrecycled “luxury” brands. But it’s definitely not in the sandpaper zone. Who needs to be wiping their backside with wannabe velvet anyway? Especially when soft and strong comes at a high environmental cost.
I must flag that some worry that recycled toilet roll is not a good option because it may contain bisphenol-A (BPA), a known endocrine disrupter. I’m not concerned about this because research shows that the concentrations would be negligible. You’d be exposed to far more BPA by handling things like thermal receipts than you would by using recycled toilet paper.
My only criticism of the ECOlogicial toilet paper is that the outer packaging is still plastic. Hopefully that will change sometime soon. For now, you can recycle the packaging with other plastic bags at supermarket bag collection points.
Bamboo toilet roll
If you’d really rather have something 100% BPA-free without compromising on sustainability and that’s a bit softer, a good alternative is Cheeky Panda.
It’s made from FSC certified bamboo which apparently grows 30 times faster than trees. Bamboo also produces 30% more oxygen, whilst absorbing 35% more carbon than our branchy, twiggy friends.
And Cheeky Panda bamboo is grown without any fertilisers or pesticides. They don’t use bleach or fragrances either.
Cheeky Panda previously wrapped their toilet tissue in plastic too but seem to be moving away from this towards the use of brown paper instead. Hooray! Products bought from them directly in bulk are all plastic-free and packaged in cardboard boxes.
So there you have it, a small everyday change in your bathroom that could make a big difference to our planet over time. Why not give greener loo roll a try? I’d love to hear how you get on.
ECOlogical toilet paper, 9-roll pack £3.95, Waitrose. Cheeky Panda toilet paper 9-roll pack £5.49 from Ocado and various online stockists, including direct from www.thecheekypanda.co.uk.