5 Eco-Friendly Reasons why we Should Buy Recycled Toilet Paper

5 Eco-Friendly Reasons why we Should Buy Recycled Toilet Paper

In our quest to be an environmentally conscious consumer, we probably consider to buy recycled toilet paper, don’t we? In this article, I want to explore the pros and cons of recycled toilet paper and some alternatives.

Some might have the wrong idea of recycled toilet paper. However, I can reassure you, it’s definitely not recycled from other toilet paper but rather other paper products. There really is no yuck factor! 🙂

Recycled paper is either made from paper previously used for magazines, posters, printing paper, and the like. This is also called post-consumer content. Or it is made from cutting waste from paper manufacture.

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Gray toilet paper

I can’t remember Tom and I ever buying white or decorated toilet paper. Even in our student days in the 70s, unbleached toilet paper was for sale at Hema, a well-known Dutch department store.

That was packed per 4 rolls in plastic, which we did not think about at all at the time. At some point, recycled toilet paper came into the shops. Ever since we have been using the recycled kind, we have been looking for paper packaging. As long as we lived in the Netherlands without success.

Related: 9 Tips to Reduce Packaging for Consumers (and Listening Producers)

Facebook and WhatsApp groups

Completely against our expectations (Spain and plastic-free hardly go together), we quickly found a solution here. A separate group arose from the ZeroWasteMurcia Facebook group that jointly orders toilet paper from a wholesaler.

The paper is recycled and is packed in a cardboard box that is also made from recycled material.

This wholesaler supplies the catering industry and anyone who orders a large quantity. The more boxes ordered at once, the more discount they offer.

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In turn, one of the group members arranges the order, payment, and delivery, after which everyone can pick up their box at that person’s location.

Fun fact

Talking about Facebook, do you remember the fierce discussion a few years ago about hanging the roll, to the front or backward?

Some claimed that the choice of one of these hanging methods was linked to one’s identity or gender, and would be argued over in relationships.

People who choose forward-hanging paper find it more convenient because the sheet is clearly visible and easier to unroll, or more hygienic because the chance of the wall being smeared is smaller.

Supporters of paper hanging backward point out that this makes it easier to keep the loose paper out of sight.

100% Recycled paper, 80% post consumer content

This is what it sometimes says on packages of recycled toilet paper, but what does it mean?

Post-consumer content is materials that have been used and thrown away. So when we put our old magazines, newspapers, and boxes into the recycle bin, that’s post-consumer content. This is important because it means that what we use can be made into functional and valuable materials – toilet paper is both functional and valuable, isn’t it?

Recycling keeps paper out of landfills and saves millions of trees from being cut down. So when we see that our toilet paper is made from 80% post-consumer content, we know that only 20% of it is coming from scrap during the manufacturing process of other items.

Is recycled toilet paper better for the environment?

According to official numbers in the US, 1 ton of recycled paper saves:

  • 17 trees
  • 7000 gallons (± 32.000 liters) of water
  • 4100 kWh of energy, enough to power our home for six months
  • 60 pounds (± 27 kg) of air pollution
  • 2.5 cubic (± 1,9 m3) yards of landfill space
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In the US, more than 68 million tons of paper and cardboard products are recovered annually, which is a recycling rate of 64,7 percent. In the UK this percentage is over 80%.

Not all recycled toilet paper is created equal

When buying recycled toilet paper, it’s important to compare a few bits of information.

  • How much post-consumer content contains toilet paper? The quality industry standard is 80%.
  • What chemicals are used? Some toilet paper is bleached with harsh chemicals. That may make it look nice and white but it’s certainly not environmentally friendly. Choose chlorine-free products, with either TCF (totally chlorine-free) or PCF (processed chlorine-free) references.

The pros of recycled toilet paper

Buying recycled toilet paper is a responsible and environmentally-friendly practice. It saves forests from being destroyed, pollution entering our atmosphere, landfills from overflowing, and harmful chemicals from entering our soil and water supply.

And with the right packaging, single-use plastics are prevented.

Related: What are the Positive Effects of Deforestation or are the Negative Effects Worse?

The con of recycled toilet paper

Reusing paper

Not only old magazines are thrown in the wastebasket, but also receipts and labels made of thermal paper. Thermal paper contains BPA (Bisphenol A), a chemical that is considered to be hormone-influencing. By the way, plastic also contains this substance.

It is not known exactly how harmful this could be, but from 2020 BPA is banned from thermal paper in Europe.

I do not know what the turnover rate of the recycling process is. It is possible that the recycled paper still contains some BPA.

Alternatives for toilet paper

In some countries, the use of toilet paper is considered unhygienic. Instead, they wash with water.

A few years ago I was in Turkey for a tour of a university. Several toilets only had a hose with a tap next to a hole in the floor. Luckily there was also a toilet that was normal (sorry, in my eyes normal).

If you don’t want to use paper, a bidet next to the toilet is an option.

Another paperless alternative is the Japanese toilet. In it, water comes out of an opening at the back of the toilet. Some even have heated water.

We buy recycled toilet paper

For Tom and me, the pros outweigh the cons, so we buy recycled toilet paper in bulk with our group. That had an unexpected extra advantage last year when the covid-misery started.

Many supermarket shelves were empty because people started hoarding toilet paper. Our box was only half empty and since there are 92 rolls in a box, we had enough for a while, LOL.

What do you think, toilet roll face forward or backward? Let us know in the comment box below.

8 thoughts on “5 Eco-Friendly Reasons why we Should Buy Recycled Toilet Paper”

  1. The toilet roll must face forward! Very important lol. And I had always wondered if it was worth buying recycled toilet paper considering that it must use a lot of chemicals to process it. Your article has me thinking that I should invest in a bidet. I thought about getting one a few years ago and I really don’t know what I’m waiting for. It seems like the best solution all around. And if another Covid-type shortage in toilet paper comes along, I’ll be unaffected 😉 Thanks for the article!

    • Hi Nicole, why would there be chemicals involved in producing recycled toilet paper? On the contrary. It does not need to be bleached because it doesn’t need to be pure white. It’s never printed with ink. At most, the decoration is embossed.
      That’s what I like most about recycled toilet paper; no ink, no bleach, no chemicals. 🙂

      And I agree with you, the toilet roll should face forward. 😉

      Thanks for your comment and stay healthy.

  2. We’ve always bought recycled paper, I honestly don’t see the point of buying crisp white, perfume-infused toilet paper. The perfume has zero purpose, it’s not like it lasts, and why should you go for bleached paper? As long as it’s absorbent and soft, I’m good to go.

    • Good to hear, Dennis, and I totally agree with you. There indeed is no point in bleaching paper that is literally going to end as waste. I wish more people would think the same as you do. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment and take care.

  3. My husband uses the bidet, I’m more of a tp fan. To each his own, but when it comes to paper I always reach for recycled one. It’s safe for the environment, for myself and the price is usually either the same or a tad higher.

    • Hi Alexis, it’s always great if we have a choice. No matter what’s it about. 🙂

      It’s not my experience that the price of eco-friendly toilet paper is either the same or higher. We have it cheaper than the perfumed and bleached quality in the supermarket because we buy it in bulk together with a lot of other people.

      Once you go look for it there are several ways to cut on your expenses and still have a mindful and sustainable lifestyle. Although I do realize that it’s easier in some areas than in other places. In the Netherlands, where I come from, it is definitely easier than over here in Spain.

      Thanks for your comment and take care.

  4. Hi Hannie,
    This is a great article. I have used recycled toilet paper for years, which is essential if we want to live sustainably.
    Nowadays, I use standard toilet paper, but that is no option. I might better go back to recycled toilet paper. I know that many Muslims use water, and maybe it is just how we are used to it. Brought up with toilet paper, we are so spoiled. Do you not think so?
    There are other ways. If I think about the time, people had no toilet paper at all, and they managed as well.
    We are a spoiled generation, and that is very much the truth. I will look into recycled toilet paper again because that is an excellent way to save the planet! Thank you very much, Hannie! 🙂

    • Hi, Sylvia. LOL, when you wrote about people in the old days, I immediately had an image of people using big leaves in the forest to wipe themselves. No idea if they did that, but it brought a smile to my face. 🙂

      Yes, I consider myself being spoiled in all kinds of ways. Yet, on the other hand, we’re not spoiled. Every time has its own challenges we have to deal with and nowadays it’s climate change. That is a huge challenge, bringing along a lot of responsibility for all of us.

      In the old days, people didn’t get very old. So the comparison with the past is not always in the favor of our ancestors. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment, Sylvia, and take care.


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