Previous to my plastic-free challenge, I was used to buying the super large packs of Cottonelle, Charmin, or store-brand toilet paper on sale and getting a great bargain when I added in my coupons. Oh, how I love a good deal! Well, we were down to our last roll in the house this week and I wondered Can I even buy toilet paper without the plastic wrapping? Technically, the answer is “yes”. Seventh Generation and Natural Value brands sell single paper-wrapped rolls. It is true that by buying these individually wrapped rolls I could avoid plastic, but it would seem to defeat the purpose of trying to create less waste. That is one of the main reasons I’m trying to cut back on my plastic use, after all.
I decided to look into my options. If I had to buy plastic-wrapped packs of toilet paper, I wanted to, at least, be a more eco-conscious consumer. I began to investigate a bit. Most of the brands we know (the Charmins etc.) make their toilet paper from virgin wood fibers. According to the Seventh Generation website, “If every household in the US replaced just one 12-pack of 300 sheet virgin fiber bathroom tissue with 100% recycled, we’d save 1,900,000 trees…”. Greenpeace reminds us that, “Recycled toilet tissue products help protect ancient forests, clean water, and wildlife habitat. It is easier on the Earth to make tissues from paper instead of trees.” Check out this toilet paper guide to see how your favorite brands rank. I’m making the switch to buying tp made from a minimum of 80% post consumer content and processed without chlorine. Look on the back of the package to see the post-consumer content. Don’t be fooled by the words “100% recycled”. Why cut down trees to wipe our rears when recycled tp is an option?
I bought three of the tp guide’s recommended brands and decided to see which was the best value. I’ll admit that none of the top recycled toilet papers feel as luxurious as the non-recycled variety. My top pick was Seventh Generation. It is made from 80% post-consumer content and has a soft feel. The price is right at $9.99 for 400 square foot 12-pack and comes to 2.4 cents per square foot. My next choice was Natural Value, which is also made from 80% post-consumer content. It felt almost exactly as soft as Seventh Generation. The cost was $6.99 for a 250 square foot 12-pack and came to 2.7 cents per square foot. Green Forest ranks highest on the environmental scale because it is made from 90% post-consumer content. It was also slightly thinner than the other brands. It costs $6.99 for a 297 square foot 12-pack and 2.3 cents per square foot. After checking out all of these brands, I came across Safeway’s brand of recycled products, called Bright Green. Again, this brand of toilet paper is made of 80% post consumer content. I haven’t had the chance to buy some and see how soft it is, but the price is right. A 250.5 square foot 6-pack of double rolls costs $3.99 and only 1.5 cent per square foot. Make sure to check out square footage and not number of rolls when you evaluate the cost value, as each brand is different. Also, look for sales, shop around, and clip coupons to get the best bargain for your bum.