How far are you willing to go to save the planet? How about as far as the bathroom?
I ask because a search for “reusable toilet paper” on Etsy reveals 1,645 results. Yes, you read that right.
Regular toilet paper— at 1.5 pounds of wood and 37 gallons of water per roll— is surprisingly wasteful. Most of us would hear this and say: sure, but what is the alternative? Well, a few months ago I stumbled upon the concept of the “family cloth.” I mean, reusable toilet paper sounds like a horrible idea, but… I was going to keep an open mind. I did some research, read articles both for and against.
The conclusion I came to was this: Nope.
In the interest of environmentalism, recycled toilet paper would seem to be the next best option, right? But my experience has consistently been that recycled brands are harder to find, cost more and— just as a bonus—suck. They were usually too thin, too rough or both. And either way, toilet paper goes down the toilet and disappears, so it didn’t present much of an immediate problem for our Year of No Garbage.
What was a problem: the plastic overwrap.
Inexplicably, even the recycled toilet paper at my store comes with plastic overwrap. Seriously- why do companies think we’ll buy recycled paper to save trees but ignore the This-Will-Outlive-Your-Great-Grandchildren-Overwrap? I’m looking at you Seventh Generation.
Yes, you can recycle plastic overwraps of all kinds in the plastic bag recycling at the supermarket, but many people won’t, and more plastic is always bad. Not creating it in the first place is far preferable.
Enter the Australian-based company Who Gives a Crap, which besides having a terrifically easy to remember name, is a solution I’m liking right now. Some things I like about them:
- They donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets for people who need them. 800 children die every day from poor water and sanitation.
- Their products are 100% plastic free.
- They have a sense of humor. To draw attention to their 2012 crowd-funding campaign, co-founder Simon Griffiths sat on a toilet for 50 hours; he wrote contributors thank you notes on pieces of toilet paper.
As you might expect— when you’re ordering your sustainably sourced toilet tissue— it is expensive. Just how expensive? I ordered 48 bamboo rolls for $52, which means I’m paying just over a dollar a roll. According to the toilet paper math mavens of the Internet, of which there are greater numbers than I imagined, this is nearly twice what I should be paying for an ordinary roll of TP.
A slightly cheaper option is Who Gives a Crap‘s recycled paper line, for which you are paying about a third more.
The expense is one obvious downside. Then there’s a global footprint involved in home shipping, but where is it really coming from? Australia? A production facility in the U.S.? And how does that compare to the shipping of products like Cottonelle or Charmin to my supermarket? As of now, I don’t know.
The upside is that I like their product a lot: it is thick, soft and comfortable to use. And their subscription service means you never have to worry about forgetting to buy toilet paper at the store ever again. Just like supporting local businesses or buying organic food, if you’re willing and able to pay the higher price for things you believe in, then it is worth checking these guys out.
My bottom line (so to speak?)? The plastic packaging overwrap is gone. So I’m pretty happy.