Globally, the production of toilet roll destroys 27,000 trees per day – almost 9 million trees per year (National Geographic). The UK alone uses 1.3m tonnes of loo roll a year, according to the Confederation of Paper Industries, with the average British consumer reportedly getting through 127 rolls every year.
Not only is the consumption increasing, but there doesn't seem to be much of a shift towards sustainability. In 2019 The Ethical Consumer magazine found that major toilet paper brands are using less recycled paper than in 2011.
There is no need to cut down forests to make toilet roll and thankfully, there are an increasing number of companies producing loo roll from recycled paper, or more sustainable materials such as bamboo. Typically, these eco friendly alternatives are either made from bamboo and/or sugar cane, or recycled materials. We review four bamboo options below (Cheeky Panda, Bumboo, Naked Sprout and Who Gives a Crap) and two recycled paper options (Who Gives a Crap and Green Cane).
Help Me Choose: Sustainable Loo Roll
The large-scale use of virgin paper (particularly the trend for “luxury” four-ply and quilted loo roll) contributes to unnecessary deforestation and only five of the nine major supermarkets assessed in The Ethical Consumer Magazine's survey (the Co-op, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose) offered an own-brand recycled toilet paper.
In addition, a 2017 Greenpeace report warned that large parts of Sweden’s Great Northern Forest, and the biodiversity contained within it, were under threat from the timber industry’s growing demand for virgin wood. As well as the environmental impact of the raw materials, there is increased consumer concern over the chemicals used to bleach virgin pulp. which has led to less toxic alternatives being used, and some companies not bleaching toilet roll at all.
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