The U.S. tissue market generates $31 billion in revenue every year, second only to China, and Americans, who make up just over 4 percent of the world’s population, account for over 20 percent of global tissue consumption.NRDC – The Issue with Tissue
The devastating impact of wood pulp toilet paper
Oh, where to start. Well, I could mention that the United States, a single country, is responsible for 20% of the global tissue consumption. I could talk about how the resource for that wood pulp product comes directly from chopping down old-growth trees in the Canadian Boreal forest. I could highlight the fact that over 600 indigenous communities live in that forest, alongside songbirds and martins and caribou.
I could also talk about how the Canadian Boreal forest is a natural carbon sink that’s being cut down at a rate of 7 NHL ice rinks every 60 seconds. Do you know what this means? It means we’re actively releasing carbon back into the atmosphere and destroying our ability to absorb greenhouse gas emissions that all we know contribute to climate change.
But you can read all about that in NRDC’s report. But will you? Probably not. I mean, who really wants to think about this kind of stuff? Shouldn’t we just leave it to government officials to make changes and keep wiping away until they do?
The problem is, this is a multibillion dollar industry. Numbers like that mean that it’s unlikely we’ll see top-down changes anytime soon. That is, of course, until there are no forests left. And what will we do then? I don’t want to think so negatively. I want to show you the solutions you can easily implement in your home, today.
Eco-friendly alternatives to wood pulp toilet paper
Our bathroom habits are taboo topic to talk about. I know. But in the same way we need to reassess single-use plastics in our homes, and that requires behavioural changes, we need to talk about what goes on behind that closed door.
Some of you will be more open to change than others. I get it. That’s why this list has solutions for everyone. Take a look and let me know if I missed any great alternatives.
Bamboo toilet paper
Switching from wood pulp to bamboo toilet paper is akin to switching from plastic zip-tops to reusable silicone bags. There’s really no behavioural change required. In fact, the only difference is you buy it online and it arrives straight to your door, which I find really convenient.
Bamboo is more sustainable because it grows much more quickly, it regenerates itself, and it doesn’t contribute to deforestation. Plus, it absorbs up to 35% more carbon dioxide than similar plants.
Bamboo toilet paper is becoming more mainstream, too, meaning you can shop around to find the best deal. So far, I haven’t found anything cheaper than Who Gives a Crap? and this company also donates half of all proceeds to helping build toilets in developing countries. They also have recycled toilet paper options and options for paper towels and facial tissues too.
Growing up in North America, I thought bidets were only for the rich and famous. It was until I met my Middle Eastern partner that I realized how wrong I was. Bidets give you a small water bath so you can then either drip-dry or just pat-dry.
If a proper bidet is out of your budget, you can makeshift one with an eco-friendly watering can or even a reusable water bottle.
At first, I was skeptical, but now, using water is the only thing that makes sense in my mind. It’s more hygienic and seriously cuts down on toilet paper used.
This option works really well in conjunction with a water bath. The water does the cleaning, the cloth does the drying. This way, there’s no paper needed at all.
You can use regular wash cloths, thick cloth napkins, or use upcycled cotton sweaters and sweatpants if you want to go the extra eco-mile.
Now, I could keep going. I could list all the types of leaves you could collect and use as toilet paper. I could tell you to use receipts and newspaper and smooth rocks and…are any of you going to do those things? I’m certainly not. If you do, let us know how it goes. Until then, I’m happy lowering my impact with the water bath and bamboo toilet paper. In the future, I may go really green and switch from bamboo to a cloth option, but we’ll see.
The important thing isn’t which eco-friendly alternative you choose, it’s that you ditch wood pulp toilet paper.