Is it possible to find zero waste toilet paper?
As you make sustainable bathroom swaps, you may have noticed that one disposable paper product, in particular, leads to a whole lot of waste.
This post will dive into four zero waste, low waste, and eco-friendly toilet paper options and alternatives.
We will break down what you need to know about each option with the pros and cons as well as places you can purchase each option!
Why Choose Eco-Friendly Toilet Paper or Alternatives?
Despite making up about 4% of the world’s population, Americans are responsible for more than 20% of the world’s tissue consumption.
The average person in the U.S. uses a whopping 141 rolls of single-use toilet paper per year. (Germany comes in right below the U.S., with the average person using 134 rolls and the UK isn’t far behind with 127 rolls per capita.)
What’s the problem with all this tissue?
Well, the majority of American toilet paper companies source tissue pulp from the boreal forest in Canada. In total, industrial logging takes down over one million acres of boreal forest annually. As NRDC points out, that’s equivalent to cutting down 7 National Hockey League rinks every single minute.
Over 15 million trees are cut down and pulped each year just to satisfy American demand for toilet paper.
And globally, 27,000 trees are cut down every single day for tissue production.
Beyond losing trees — which sequester and store massive amounts of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere — the loss of boreal forest impacts Indigenous Peoples’ way of life and leads to the decline of and loss of species.
Plus, producing toilet paper requires more than just pulp from trees. That pulp has to be manufactured into that toilet paper, which requires an immense amount of resources.
Each year, over 500 million pounds of chlorine are used to produce toilet paper just for the U.S. alone, a Scientific American article pointed out.
And a Tree Hugger report estimated that a single roll of toilet paper requires 37 gallons of water.
Now for the good and bad news…
Good news: There are alternatives readily available.
Bad news: Most major tissue companies are not using these alternatives.
(more) Good news: There are plenty of smaller and mid-size companies that are offering eco-friendly and zero waste toilet paper options. We’ll explore them in this guide!
Note that this guide includes partners and affiliates. As always, all brands meet rigorous sustainability criteria and are brands we believe in!
Eco-Friendly and Zero Waste Toilet Paper Options
The main zero waste toilet paper swaps you’ll find on the market today are:
- Bidets. Essentially sinks for your bum!
- Reusable cloth toilet paper. If this makes you a little uneasy, don’t worry, we’ll talk more about this option later!
- Recycled paper toilet paper. Reduces waste on the front end, though does eventually result in waste when discarded.
- Tree-free bamboo toilet paper. Not zero waste, but an eco-friendly toilet paper option that’s lighter on the planet than tree-based TP.
Bidets are the best way to reduce or even eliminate toilet paper use.
Beyond the obvious sustainability benefits, cleaning with a water-based toilet paper alternative will get you way cleaner and make you feel fresher too. After using a bidet for a while, you may wonder how you ever felt right without one![This post has information about how to use a bidet plus my personal first-time experience.]
While bidets are common in some countries like Japan, Argentina, and many European countries, bidets are not so commonly found in North America (yet).
Here are some options though that just might turn you into a bidet convert!
TUSHY’s thoughtfully designed bidets are affordable, effective, and simple to install with no electricity or additional plumbing required. Their bidets are also easy to use — you just turn the nozzle for a stream of water to clean your bum! You can select between The TUSHY Classic, which is the simple option with just cold water (this is the one I own — check out my review here!) or the TUSHY Spa with a hot water option (your toilet must be near a sink to install this one).
Through their partnership with Samagra, a percentage of TUSHY’s profits provide families in India access to clean community toilets
Conscious Qualities: Zero Waste Toilet Paper Alternative, Gives Back, WOC-Founded
Price: $129 for Classic | $149 for Spa
2. Bio Bidet
If you have a bigger budget, Bio Bidet’s bidet seats and bidet toilets come with advanced features like air dryers, heated seats, and multiple cleaning modes, like “feminine cleansing” and “posterior wash”. As you might imagine, though, these options are more expensive with the seats for a few hundred dollars and the toilets starting at $2,300.
Conscious Qualities: Zero Waste Toilet Paper Alternative
Price: $49+ for attachments, $120+ for seats, and $2,200 for toilets
Reusable Cloth Toilet Paper
This zero waste toilet paper option is not for everyone and also certainly has some special considerations! Here are some tips for using this waste free toilet paper while staying safe:
- Use the reusable cloths along with a bidet. This way, the bidet can do the initial cleaning and the cloths would mostly be used for drying off. This is probably the most sanitary way to wipe with reusable cloth toilet paper!
- Make sure you have an allocated place to store soiled cloths. Clean this basket or bin regularly.
- You may also want to have everyone stick to their own reusable cloths by having a separate color or style for each person in your household. Although the cloths should be washed and sanitized in between uses, the mental image of sharing toilet paper may still cause hesitation.
- If not washed properly, this sustainable toilet paper option does bring the risk of spreading bacteria. Wash the reusable toilet paper cloths on hot and potentially on the sanitization mode of your washing machine to reduce this risk. The energy required to clean the reusable toilet paper is of course not so environmentally friendly, so this is something to consider when you’re weighing the various eco-friendly toilet paper options available.
- Have some eco-friendly toilet paper (see the options below!) to use as a backup. This way, you don’t necessarily have to commit to using the reusable cloths 100% of the time if that makes you or your family uncomfortable.
Alright, now let’s get to the reusable zero waste toilet paper options!
Created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the stockpiling of toilet paper, Marley’s Monsters Toilet Unpaper replaces the need for disposable TP options. The rolls are made in Oregon from 100% cotton flannel and are rolled on a kraft tube so that it fits on your existing toilet paper roll holder.
Price: $38 for roll of 24 (1-ply)
If you prefer an organic option, check out RagPads washable toilet paper cloth wipes made from 100% GOTS-certified organic cotton and are not bleached or dyed. The wipes do not come in a roll form, so RagPads also sells a toilet paper cloth wipes holder designed to hang on your existing toilet paper roll holder.
Price: $36 for set of 12 (2-ply)
For an even lighter impact on the planet, Besse Margaret has zero waste toilet paper rolls made from upcycled cotton flannel fabric! The fabric used is leftover from Besse Margaret’s zero waste paper towels so the patterns will vary. You can also purchase a vinyl tube along with the roll so that it easily fits on to your existing toilet paper roll holder
Price: $12 for roll of 12
Best Eco-Friendly Toilet Paper Options
Whether you’re not ready to dive into the world or reusable toilet paper or you’d like to have a back-up, there are still some more eco-friendly toilet paper options to choose from.
The main types available today are recycled toilet paper and bamboo toilet paper. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of each.
Recycled Toilet Paper
- Pros: Can reduce paper waste by increasing demand for recycled paper. Doesn’t require cutting down any trees or plants.
- Cons: Usually contains BPA, a known endocrine disrupter (this is because receipts get put into the recycled paper stream)
- Pros: Can be softer than recycled paper options. Does not contain BPA. Bamboo sequesters carbon, produces oxygen, and restores soils. Typically less chemical-intensive to produce than recycled paper.
- Cons: Requires extraction of new resources. Usually more expensive. Most bamboo is harvested in China (so, for American companies this can mean a lack of full transparency into their supply chain and also long shipping distances)
Reel creates dye-free, ink-free bamboo toilet paper. The company’s eco-friendly toilet paper ships in plastic-free packaging that is 100% compostable or recyclable and uses only water-based dyes. Reel also donates a biodegradable toilet to villages in Kenya for every roll of toilet paper bought.
Sustainability Qualities: Bamboo, Black (Co-)Owned, Plastic-Free Packaging, Gives Back
Price: $30 for 24 3-ply rolls ($1.25/roll)
PlantPAPER’s sustainably-sourced bamboo toilet paper is completely tree-free, chlorine-free, and toxin-free. There are no bleaching agents used on PlantPAPER’s TP and their shipments come in plastic-free 100% recycled cardboard packaging. The sustainable toilet paper company has options to either try one package of toilet paper or subscribe for regular shipments.
Sustainability Qualities: FSC-Certified Bamboo, Non-Toxic, Recycled Plastic-Free Packaging
Price: $45 for 32 3-ply rolls; $125 for 96 3-ply rolls ($1.30-1.40/roll)
TUSHY is best known for bidets, but if you’re not pairing a bidet with a reusable cloth option, there may be a need for eco-friendly toilet paper to pat dry. TUSHY delivers with its soft, premium bamboo toilet paper. The brand uses “biological pulping” for turning bamboo into their toilet paper, so they do not use any chlorine, bleach, or emulsifying agents.
Sustainability Qualities: Bamboo, Unbleached, Plastic-Free Packaging
Price: $69 for 36 rolls ($1.90/roll)
Bippy creates (actually!) soft and strong bamboo toilet paper and ships the rolls in 100% recycled shipping boxes and plant-based biodegradable cello tape. From the brands I’ve tried, Bippy offers the best sustainable toilet paper in terms of comfort. The company also uses a closed-loop process, recycling their water and eliminating 90% of dioxins by using a treatment called Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF).
Sustainability Qualities: Bamboo, Elemental Chlorine Free, Recycled Packaging
Price: $32 for 24 3-ply rolls ($1.33/roll)
5. Bim Bam Boo
Bim Bam Boo is another bamboo toilet paper brand producing tree-free TP! This women-run company sources their bamboo from FSC-certified sources and their manufacturing partners have certifications like Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF), ISO 14001 and ISO 9001.
The paper core for their rolls is made from recycled paper and their packaging is recyclable (though not recycled).
Sustainability Qualities: FSC-Certified Bamboo, Elemental Chlorine Free
Price: $30 for 24 2-ply rolls ($1.25/roll)
6. Pure Planet
Pure Planet’s toilet paper is made from bamboo and sugarcane waste and the rolls come in plastic-free packaging. The pulp for Pure Planet’s tissue is also whitened using an Elemental Chlorine Free process.
Sustainability Qualities: Bamboo and Sugarcane, Plastic-Free Packaging, Elemental Chlorine Free
Price: $60 for 40 3-ply rolls ($1.50/roll)
Bumboo is a tree-free tissue paper brand from the UK. The eco-friendly toilet paper company makes soft, sustainable TP from bamboo sourced from FSC-certified co-ops and they use minimal (recyclable) packaging — you can even opt to buy your toilet paper without wrappers. In addition, Bumboo plants a tree for every box purchased
Sustainability Qualities: FSC-Certified Bamboo, Plastic-Free Packaging, Plants Tees
Price: £22.50 for 24 rolls; £38 for 48 rolls (£0.79-0.93/roll)
Caboo makes soft sustainable toilet paper from bamboo and sugarcane. The company actually sources the “bagasse” of sugarcane, which is a part of the sugarcane plant that is typically discarded. Caboo’s TP is also Elemental Chlorine Free, BPA-free, and non-GMO certified
Sustainability Qualities: Bamboo, Elemental Chlorine Free
Price: $25 for 24 2-ply rolls ($1/roll)
Who Gives a Crap is a toilet paper brand with a heart. The company not only sells environmentally-friendly tree-free paper products like toilet paper and facial tissue but also donates half of their profits to helping build toilets for those in need.
Sustainability Qualities: Recycled Paper or Bamboo Options; Donates 50% of Profits
Prices: $48 for 48 recycled 3-ply rolls($1/roll) | $52 for 48 bamboo rolls ($1.10/roll)
BONUS: More Eco-Friendly Toilet Paper Options
Beyond recycled and bamboo toilet paper, there are other less popular eco-friendly toilet paper options.
Aria is an eco-minded brand with toilet paper and other paper products made from responsibly-sourced trees and processed with 100% renewable power. The company plants three trees for every tree used and is Sustainable Forestry Initiative certified.
Sustainability Qualities: Responsibly-Sourced Paper, Renewable Energy, Plants Trees
Price: $20 for 24 rolls ($0.83/roll)
Peach creates premium toilet paper from eucalyptus fibers. The company’s TP is chlorine and toxic chemical-free and their signature Peach motif is dyed with plant-based coloring. 10% of Peach’s profits go to the organization Safe Horizon, which provides support for survivors of abuse and trafficking.
Sustainability Qualities: Eucalyptus Paper, Chlorine-Free, Gives Back
Price: $24 for 8 rolls ($3/roll)
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