Every week we bring you a new, simple idea for reducing your carbon footprint and protecting the planet. This week, we look at the environmental impact of toilet paper, and the easy switch you can make to reduce it.
We’re all aware of the importance of saving paper, and most of us try to do our bit when it comes to reducing, reusing and recycling – but that’s a bit tricky when it comes to toilet paper! It’s probably the only material we can legitimately get away with using once before getting rid of it, and that’s a problem.
The average Brit gets through 127 rolls of loo roll every year, which adds up to a UK total of 1.3 million tonnes of tissue. All of this paper has to come from somewhere, particularly virgin paper – that is, ‘brand new’ paper made directly from trees that are pulped. Sustainable forest management works to ensure trees that are cut down are replaced. The FSC logo on toilet packs is a good indicator of companies that support this practise. However, this is not always the case.
Plus, toilet paper requires a huge amount of water and energy during the manufacturing process. According to Brondell, a single roll of toilet paper uses 37 gallons of water to manufacture, while producing and transporting toilet paper uses 17.3 terawatts of electricity every year.
The most sustainable toilet paper, then, is recycled toilet paper. But according to Ethical Consumer magazine, most of the major UK toilet paper brands are using less recycled paper in their products than in 2011, while only five of the major supermarkets (Co-op, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose) offer an own-brand recycled toilet paper.
But, by taking into account a whole host of factors including resources, habitat protection, palm oil use, animal rights and pollution, Ethical Consumer has determined which toilet papers boast the best environmental credentials. So consider switching up today – it’ll have no bearing on your behind but make a big difference to the planet.
The overall winners: Ecoleaf and Who Gives a Crap
Both scoring 14.5 points out of a possible 20, Ecoleaf and Who Gives a Crap’s recycled toilet paper tops the charts for sustainability.
You can order 12 rolls of Ecoleaf’s recycled toilet paper for just £5.63 from ethicalsuperstore.com, or a case of five packs for £26.74 – that’s less than 45p per roll!
Over on whogivesacrap.org, meanwhile, prices start at £24 for 24 double-length rolls of 100% recycled paper, or you can take out an eight, 12 or 16 week subscription and save £5. Better still, 50% of all the company’s products go to building toilets for those in need around the world.
The highest scoring household toilet paper brand names
Unfortunately, the major toilet paper brands didn’t score particularly highly. Nicky and Regina achieved 12 points, while popular names such as Cushelle and Velvet scored just 7.5 points. Andrex – perhaps one of the most well-known toilet paper names in the country – scored just 6.5.
Eco-friendly toilet paper at the major supermarkets
Again, a poor show from the UK’s supermarkets. The top performers, according to Ethical Consumer, are Co-op and Waitrose’s recycled offerings, although they boast a score of just 5.5 points each. Sainsbury’s recycled toilet paper scores 4, Morrison’s recycled toilet paper scores 3 and Tesco’s recycled loo roll scores a paltry 2.5.
The toilet roll to avoid at all costs: ASDA
ASDA, which doesn’t offer any recycled toilet paper option, scored an abysmal zero points. According to Ethical Consumer, the supermarket’s toilet tissue got the worst possible rating for every criteria except environmental reporting, palm oil use and ‘controversial technologies’, for which it obtained a middle rating. So even if you’re not prepared to buy online or switch to a different supermarket, at least consider making the move away from ASDA’s own brand option – any points are better than none at all.
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