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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Table of contents
- 1 Gray toilet paper
- 2 Facebook and WhatsApp groups
- 3 100% Recycled paper, 80% post consumer content
- 4 Is recycled toilet paper better for the environment?
- 5 The pros of recycled toilet paper
- 6 The con of recycled toilet paper
- 7 Alternatives for toilet paper
- 8 We buy recycled toilet paper
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
The con of recycled toilet 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.