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The Environmental Impact of Toilet Paper

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

Did you know that wiping your butt is killing our environment?

What people don't realize is that toilet paper is one of the most environmentally destructive products.

But... How is that possible?

In this article, we will take a closer look at the true environmental impact of toilet paper and how's affects our planet.

Why Toilet Paper is Horrible for the Planet

The environmental impact of toilet paper is a major concern for many scientists, but not so much so for the average consumer. A recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council reveals that major toilet paper manufacturers are decimating forests and are a major contributor to global warming. The NRDC's report outlines the environmental impact of various brands of toilet paper, and it rates each brand according to its carbon footprint. Even worse, it shows how the largest manufacturers are also the worst offenders.

2021 toilet paper sustainability scorecard infographic rating best and worst toilet paper brands

A major problem with toilet paper is the fact that it contributes to a greater percentage of global carbon emissions than even a gas-guzzling car. Although it is a modern convenience, this wasteful product is also one of the most damaging products in the environment.

Which Countries Use the Most Toilet Paper?

The United States uses more toilet paper than any other country. The average person in the United States goes through more than 57 sheets of tissue paper per day or almost 20,805 sheets per year.

What's shocking is that the U.S. hosts roughly 4% of the world’s population but consumes more than 20% of the world’s toilet paper- and that comes at a huge cost to our planet.

infographic chart world toilet paper consumption by country

Where Does Toilet Paper Come From?

It is important to understand that most toilet paper does not come from recycled materials. In fact, toilet paper is made from trees- trees that are chopped down specifically to make this product.

What's important to note, is these aren't the trees in your backyard. A single roll of toilet paper requires 1.5 pounds of virgin pulp that comes from trees in delicate ecosystems- and when they are chopped down, it can have a devastating impact on the environment.

There is a definitive link between major U.S. toilet paper manufacturers and the decimation of one the most important ecosystems in the world- the Canadian Boreal Forest.

According to a report by The Guardian, the boreal forest straddles more than half of Canada and is home to 600 indigenous tribes. Its vast expanse allows it to store a significant amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the equivalent to the annual emissions of 24 million automobiles each year.

Unfortunately, since 1996, over 30 million acres of the boreal forest have been chopped down to make way for the production of toilet paper- an area the size of the state of New York.

Toilet Paper Problems

It's not just deforestation that's a problem with toilet paper production; it also takes a toll on the environment in other ways. For one, making toilet paper emits greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, which contributes to climate change. The manufacturing process also requires large amounts of water and energy, which can create all sorts of pollution. What's more, the use of toxic chemicals in the production of toilet paper can harm both water supplies and workers.

Is Toilet Paper Biodegradable?

In reality, all toilet paper options are biodegradable, even the ones that are considered bad for the environment. That's because they are all made from natural materials. Although, there are specially made biodegradable toilet paper that dissolves up to 4x faster, with the downside being the increased cost.

Eco-Friendly Toilet Paper Alternatives

1. Recycled Toilet Paper

One way to reduce your environmental impact when it comes to toilet paper is to choose recycled content over virgin fiber products whenever possible. You can also look for brands with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, which ensures that the paper is made from sustainable sources.

Recycled toilet paper is a relatively new idea, and most people are unaware that it even exists. It can be processed to make non-woven polymers that are mixed with virgin pulp fibers for making tissue paper products, such as toilet paper.

2. Bamboo Toilet Paper

bamboo forest

Another popular alternative to traditional toilet paper. It is made from bamboo, which is a renewable resource. Bamboo toilet paper is biodegradable and can be composted. It's also relatively soft and strong. Another plus: it comes in recycled packaging.

3. Fabric Swatches or Towels

two bathroom towels sitting on a blue background

Another option is to use fabric swatches or towels. These can be washed and reused time and time again, and you can be happy to know that you aren't contributing to deforestation.

4. Bidets

barumi bidet toilet seat converter kit

Bidets are the most environmentally beneficial toilet paper substitute available. A bidet uses less than an eighth of a gallon of water per usage. This is much less water than it takes to produce a single roll of toilet paper. It's more than just great for the environment; you'll be saving a ton of dough as well.

With Barumi's bidet toilet seat converter kit, you will not only save thousands of trees but you will also cut down on water. There is also an eco-mode feature that will cut down energy use even further.

Why is This Important?

As the effects of climate change are being felt across the globe, it is more important than ever before for individuals to do their part.

When you choose green options for your everyday life, including recycled toilet paper or even a bidet, you are helping to lessen the impact of consumerism on the environment. You can start by checking out some of these alternatives and making the switch today.

It's important to remember that every small change counts, so let's all do our part to save the planet!


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