The US, Germany, and the UK respectively are the three nations using the largest amounts of toilet paper. An average American needs a shocking amount of 141 rolls per year – that’s one roll in just over two and a half days. Often, this toilet paper is made from virgin wood pulp and comes packaged in plastic. That’s a high environmental cost to pay.
Using sustainable toilet paper and reduce your overall consumption is an easy way to have a positive impact. Whether you’re going all the way to zero waste, or just hoping to reduce your impact.
Sustainable toilet paper options
Let’s start with the basics. What is the best sustainable toilet paper option? Much of the toilet paper we buy today in supermarkets is made from virgin wood pulp. This is contributing to deforestation. An alternative is recycled toilet paper, which is significantly more sustainable. However, be aware that recycled toilet paper often contains BPAs, which are a health hazard.
Bamboo toilet paper seems to be a great option, thanks to the many environmental benefits associated with bamboo. It grows much faster than an average hardwood tree and produces 35% more oxygen. It also doesn’t need to be treated with pesticides because of its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties and provides more yield per area.
That’s why you can find bamboo toilet paper at oodles and pinches. It’s completely plastic-free, vegan, and not made from trees.
Reduce your toilet paper need with a bidet
Some countries like France have a much lower consumption of toilet paper. They have a tradition of using bidets. These nifty installations can drastically reduce your toilet paper consumption. While the traditional bidet needs to be installed and plugged into the plumbing in your home, there are cheaper and more accessible options.
HappyPo is a portable bidet, which is a hand-held device that works just like a conventional bidet – but at a fraction of the price, without the need for any structural changes to your bathroom. And since it’s portable you can also use it when you’re traveling, at work, and in other places.
A family cloth may be right for you
There’s another zero waste option, which you may want to try – although it’s certainly not for everyone. Family cloth is a set of washcloths, which is either stored in a container or in a roll. Instead of toilet paper, you’d use these washcloths and wash them after use. Most often, they’re used with bidets rather than on their own, which makes them a lot more sanitary. However, opting for family cloth does mean that you need to do quite a lot of laundry. On the other hand, it means that you’re not flushing any toilet paper down the sewage – a great zero waste option.
There’s no one answer to what’s the best sustainable toilet paper solution. My preference is a combination of a bidet to reduce consumption, along with bamboo toilet paper. However, what works for one person may not work for another, so give the different options a try and see what’s best for you!
The Good Roll Subscription – Bamboo Toilet Paper (24 rolls)From: 20,95€ every 5 months
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HappyPo Portable bidet1,99€ – 24,99€Rated 5.00 out of 5 based on 1 customer rating
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You found out about Zero Waste Lifestyle and this new way of living resonates with your values. But since there so many resources out there (blogs and books for example) and a lot of recipes for things to make from scratch it can be somewhat overwhelming in the beginning.
Before you start digging in your trash can, make sure to separate your organic waste. You can buy a fancy compost bin somewhere or simply use a bucket with a lid. This bucket or bin you put next to your trash can and all organic waste goes in there except for meat and bones. So any type of veggie or fruit peels or cores, food left overs, egg shells but also coffee grounds, tea (without the tea bag), even the cardboard rolls from toilet paper.
Now find a way to getting rid of the contents and that will greatly depend on what’s available in your area. Hopefully you can get a green bin. Or even better you’ve got a garden and can make a compost. If not, maybe a worm bin is for you. If all those options aren’t for you, maybe you can find a friendly neighbor who has and would be willing to take green scraps from you. Also look for larger gardens in the area, maybe there is a compost option there?
We’ve grown used to disposable products up to the point that we’re not even realizing how much waste they create. Find the disposable products that you are using and consider switching to a reusable alternative. For example handkerchiefs: Maybe you can find some lovely cloth handkerchiefs at your local 2nd hand store, or maybe your grandma still has some she could share with you. Another example for a disposable item often used is the plastic straw. There are reusable alternatives made from bamboo, glass and metal. The plastic shopping bag is also one disposable item that can easily be replaced with a reusable alternative. Or those plastic ear swaps! There even reusable ear swaps available made from bamboo.
There are often things in our homes that we either bought in the past or received as a gift, that we don’t use any longer. That happens with clothing and other things like electronics and toys and kitchen tools. Pick a time and date for your first decluttering session, like for example 2 hours on Sunday. And then review all the pieces of clothing in your closet. All of them. And for each item, ask yourself if you really need it. Or if you in reality wear it. Some things we just keep because they were gifted to us and we would feel guilty not keeping them. But there might be another person out there would absolutely wear those pieces. So maybe you can let go of them?
After the decluttering session you might have a bundle of things that you’re willing to let go. Now you can either try to sell them online, give something to friends or find a nice 2nd hand shop where you can donate them. There is a list of 2nd hand shops and also online places where you can sell things in this Guide to Zero Waste in Haarlem.
When you’ve managed to find a nice 2nd hand shop make it a habit to look here for things you need. Many tools for the kitchen and books and toys can easily be found in 2nd hand shops. And if you have kids, 2nd hand shops will save you a ton of money since kids are growing like weeds and need new clothes all the time.
Everything is easier together. Once you’ve done the steps above, you’ll be ready to look into the details, product by product. It can take time to find a good alternative solution for so many things but if you find a group of people that are on the same look out, you can help each other out. So maybe consider joining a Zero Waste Group. There is one specific for Haarlem and one for Amsterdam. Both are in English. If you’re looking for a Zero Waste Group in Dutch, have a look at Zero waste/less waste Nederland.
- Switch from liquid soap and shower gel to soap bars. You can even ditch the shampoo and conditioner bottle and use shampoo bars and conditioner bars which your hair will love.
- Rethink your dental care. There are lots of options to get rid of the plastic in that area too: Bamboo toothbrush, plastic free floss, plastic free toothpaste and powder…. Click here for zero waste dental care.
- And how about plastic free deodorant (also vegan and free of any nasty ingredients btw.)
One important point to always keep in mind:
Don’t get stressed out in the process! You don’t have to be perfect, it is not a contest.
Every thing you can change for the better is just that: it’s better!