Yes, you read the title correctly! Nevertheless do not panic, we are NOT trying to convince to not use any toilet paper at all. Or worse, a family cloth used all day long by everyone.
Jokes aside, bearing in mind the damage done to virgin forests, it is high time we went for Zero Waste wipe alternatives!
Either by eliminating the need for toilet paper wholly or by choosing a more sustainable, tree-free option. Whatever you choose, do not hesitate to go through a transition period first.
All details and switches away from toilet paper are described below, in addition to what to pay attention to as well.
Bidet: Modern Version!
The most appreciated option in the Zero Waste Community!
An add-on bidet is a device you attach to your toilet bowl, without the need to plumb an additional unit (i.e., the case with standalone bidet).
It is much more hygienic than using toilet paper alone, as a bidet will adequately rinse and clean your private parts, thanks to vertical jets.
It appears that bidets were invented in France, more than 300 years ago. It is still commonly found in French and Southern European bathrooms. And hopefully, its popularity will grow in North America.
You can either install a conventional bidet as a separate unit in the bathroom or, its more modern version, plug a bidet attachment to an existing toilet bowl.
Be aware that it is an investment; around 100 USD, but it can go up to 600 USD for a luxury version, with a heated seat and a warm air dryer. However, it can be used for years (most devices are three years guaranteed) and will save you a significant amount of toilet paper.
For those of you who are not familiar with a bidet, the below benefits should convince you:
- Enhanced cleaning of your private parts means fewer risks of infections (urinary, yeast, etc.).
- For women: bidets are of great help during pregnancy (due to reduced mobility) and periods (ie. properly washes blood and its endometrial particles, which better removes any odor).
- For seniors, it helps them retain independence and avoid the need for someone to wash them each time. Bidets are also extremely useful in case of special medical needs (loss of mobility, incontinence, or Crohn’s disease).
- Environmentally-friendly: using a bidet saves between 75% and 100% of toilet paper used. This green technology is also mindful of water consumption: 1/8th of a gallon per each use, versus 37 gallons required to produce one roll of paper!
All in all, it is feasible to live without toilet paper!
Install a bidet attachment (or a separate unit, depending on your budget), and use it to rinse, clean (and even dry!) your private parts. If needed, you can finish off with washable cloths (see more on this below).
Let’s have a look at our two preferred brands: Tushy, which is more affordable and non-electric. And Brondell, which offers a broader range of products, options, and prices.
Tushy systems are easy to install and offer a 60 day risk-free trial period. They ship internationally and provide adaptors for Europe, UK, and Australia plugs.
We love their design and different choices of color. They have turned bidets into a trendy and modern accessory while respecting the highest ethical and sustainable standards.
- Angle control for a targeted spray (cold or room temperature).
- Ten-minute installation, no electricity or plumbing needed.
- It fits on different toilet styles: round, oval, and elongated.
- A self-cleaning nozzle is included.
TUSHY Spa works the same way, but thanks to its additional hose, it runs to your sink’s hot water; therefore, there is a possibility to adjust the water temperature. This can be implemented if your sink and toilet are close to one another.
And of course, we cannot review this without saying: #greenbum (as per Tushy’s standards!)
The California-based, renowned company started over 15 years ago. They offer a wide range of products at budgets between 140 USD and 700 USD, electric or non-electric.
If aesthetics are important to you, go for Tushy. Brondell is more classic, with a high focus on comfort; their bidets have a variety of features such as programmable wash settings, a heated seat, stainless steel nozzles that are adjustable, etc.
We particularly like the Swash SE400 for its price/quality:
- Water pressure, temperature, and warm air dryer are adjustable.
- Nozzle oscillation provides a gentle massage pulse, as it will move gently back and forth.
- One-touch auto mode.
Cleaning with water is much more hygienic than with TP only. Installing a bidet will help you save at least 75% of toilet paper. Safer and better for the planet!
Recycled Or Sustainably Sourced Toilet Paper Rolls
Before going into detail on this topic, it is crucial to understand what a Tree-Free Toilet Paper is.
In a nutshell, they are made of fibers from several sources, but not wood pulp (as in conventional TP produced from virgin paper):
- Agricultural residues
- Wastes from textiles and rope
- Fiber crops
Bear in mind that conventionally, wood pulp is made from forests, not necessarily respecting sustainable practices.
They lack the certifications towards responsible harvesting and production.
Therefore, to help decrease deforestation, it is crucial to opt for recycled toilet paper or paper made from bamboo fibers (technically, a type of grass) instead of trees.
Indeed, bamboo regenerates much faster than trees: about 20 years for trees to grow back after being harvested, but only three months in case of bamboo.
Is it Zero Waste?
Even though there is not a Zero Waste Toilet Paper “stricto sensu,” it is possible to purchase rolls that tick the boxes of a sustainable option:
- The rolls are ethically sourced (100% recycled material or from renewable bamboo) and do not come from virgin forests (Tree-free).
- The toilet paper is not wrapped with single-use plastic, but with cardboard, for example.
- It is far less toxic (no inks, no dyes) and biodegradable. There is always a need for specific agents such as hydrogen peroxide or chlorine dioxide to white the paper. However, eco-friendly brands, as the ones described below, make sure to regularly test and guarantee their toilet paper as BPA-free. Moreover, most of them thrive on implementing a natural, sustainable swap in our home. Unfortunately, yellow (natural color after recycling) toilet paper does not sell, hence the need for whitening.
Who Gives A Crap - Australia
What is the difference between the two? Is it possible to recycle toilet paper? Rest assured, both are widely considered greener products than conventional toilet paper:
- Recycled toilet paper makes use of either virgin or recycled material in the form of paper pulp. (So no, recycled toilet paper is not made of previously used sheets!). On the other hand, the bamboo paper is made from cultured bamboo. Not all bamboo is sustainably grown, so make sure to verify the presence of labels, such as Rainforest Alliance or CCBA.
- The main difference lies in the price and quality: bamboo paper is softer, but also more expensive.
- Whichever you choose, make sure they come wrapped in eco-friendly packaging such as cardboard boxes, and not the single-use plastic packaging we all know too well, unfortunately.
- Stay alert: recycled toilet paper can contain BPA. Therefore, make sure to have a closer look before purchase!
- According to one of the founders at ‘Who Gives A Crap’, carbon footprint-wise, recycled paper is the best choice followed by the bamboo option. Bamboo trees grow faster than other forests’ types and do not require fertilizers. They are an exceptional renewable resource and a better alternative to wood pulp.
About the company
For them, toilet paper means much more than just wiping buttocks; it is about helping people in need. The founders said their business idea was triggered when they realized that 2.3 billion people did not have access to a toilet.
They have donated over $2.6 million AU dollars to charity since their start in 2013, i.e., 50% of their profits.
Their goal: to improve access to hygiene, water, and basic sanitation in developing countries (yes, they help build toilets!). At the time, they were appalled to see (us included!) that most toilet paper is still made with virgin trees, which require enormous amounts of water and energy to produce.
We highly recommend their Zero Waste toilet paper; made with 100% recycled paper, and septic system safe.
They are guaranteed with no inks, dyes or scents and are incredibly soft thanks to their 3-ply rolls. And only 1 USD per roll, which is more affordable than most of their competitors.
What is their source? They use what is called recycled post-consumer waste paper. In their case, from local schools’ material close to their production facilities, such as BPA free textbooks, workbooks, office paper, etc.
Moreover, we appreciate the fact that you can either make a one-time purchase or choose the subscription, tailored-made option!
Who Gives A Crap ships from the US, the UK, and Australia. Bear in mind that because of the size of their packages, their shipping fees tend to be high. Have a look here.
Why is Every Roll Wrapped In Paper Separately?
There is a fact on single-use plastic packaging: that is a no go and should be avoided at all costs, whether for toilet paper rolls or other goods.
But what about the fact that these recycled rolls from whogivesacrap are wrapped in paper individually?
The main reason is hygiene and moisture protection during transport. The second underlying reason is economical. To wrap one roll or six rolls together saves very little cardboard (less than 1%).
Therefore, to reduce their overall paper usage, they decided to shorten the length of their recycled paper sheets by 1 mm.
Pure Planet Club - USA
Pure Planet Club’s toilet paper rolls come wrapped in paper and are guaranteed to be tree-free and plastic-free.
They are committed to the avoidance of single-use plastic, as it is dangerous to aquatic life and often carries harmful toxins. We are sure you will particularly appreciate their design and logo on each packaging (cutely drawn marine life).
We particularly like the ones made from renewable bamboo: double length, with 300 sheets for each roll. And, you get 10% if you submit to a subscription (they function with ReCharge).
Last but not least, Pure Planet extensively explains their relationship and business practices with China:
“We source the materials for our rolls from well-managed and sustainable plantations in Asia; we also manufacture in China since this region is one of the world’s leading produces and growers of bamboo and the supply of this raw materials is simply not readily available within the US.
We do, however, work closely with the factories that manufacture our rolls to ensure quality control, ethical practicing, and fair-trade wages are being maintained and up-to-standard at all times.”
Washable Towels And Rags
Have a look at these super soft bidet towels from Tushy!
These are eco-friendly, naturally anti-bacterial, and super absorbent towels. These bamboo butt towels are for you, if you are ready to go TP free completely (or at least, partially. Small steps count!).
We avoid calling these rags’ family cloth’, as it seems like everybody in the house would use the same one during the day. Rest assured, it is not the case.
Typically, we would recommend that you start using washable (and, therefore, reusable) rags for the lighter needs. At least, in the beginning, when you need to go through a transition phase.
You can, as such, combine it with recycled toilet paper or toilet paper made from sustainable bamboo.
Should you go with this Zero Waste option, make sure to wash the clothes at a maximum a day or two after use, with a scorching program. We, therefore, do not recommend it if you do not own a washing machine, as just rinsing it in the sink will not correctly disinfect the cloth.
The question regarding water and electricity used for cleaning the cloths stays on the table, of course.
Therefore, we believe in this option as part of a balanced mix rather than the only way to go Zero Waste in your toilet.
Indeed, you can use them to wipe off your avant-garde butt, or to dry off after the bidet cleanses (Not all of us can afford the Spa aka luxurious version with an air drier).
What Is The Issue With Conventional Toilet Paper?
In a nutshell, its sourcing and bleaching practices. Did you know that most conventional toilet paper is bleached, and steeped in dioxins?
On average, Americans use 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper each year, which represents 15 million trees being pulped.
And, to produce the paper, billions of gallons of water are required in addition to over 250,000 tons of chlorine for bleaching. This is on the manufacturing side. Deforestation is a well-known issue in the climate change crisis in terms of carbon emissions.
On average, a person will use the equivalent of 384 trees within their lifetime to wipe his or her behind.
Conventional toilet paper is one of the worst throwaway products, a few seconds of use but entirely devastating forests for manufacture. As shown above, via our review, cutting trees for wiping your private parts is illogical and unnecessary!
And, opting for Zero Waste Toilet Paper is not as scary (or weird) as it sounds. It is a matter of a smooth transition and the right waste-free choice for you and your loved ones.
Toilet paper has no secrets for us anymore!
This article is aimed at enlightening you on the need for change and why you should go for Zero Waste Toilet habits.
Namely, three options were detailed: bidets, recycled toilet paper rolls, and washable cloths. You are welcome to try a mix of these and go through a smoother transition, due to the sensitive nature of the topic.
Do not hesitate to share your experience with us!
A bit funny, a bit whacky. Lots of curiosity, lots of creativity. All for organic, minimalism and local. More of zero waste, more for our future 🌿