When you open the toilet seat and look inside what do you see? If you’re an aspiring eco warrior like me, you’ll have trained the members of your household that ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down’. Unluckily, that one came back to bite me on the proverbial arse, because now none of my kids flush the toilet. Like ever. So it’s important that the eco friendly toilet paper we use doesn’t clog the whole system. But what IS the best eco loo roll? Since the western world are all fast becoming eco hypocrites, we’re all over green toilet paper like a nappy rash, but are we getting it right?
Beyond tutting and flushing, do we know our humble loo roll isn’t killing wild life with bleach, or responsible for deforestation or polluting the air in transit? It’s for that reason, it’s only right that I share with you my extensive research on the best loo roll the UK has on offer, so you too can join the inner circle of eco friendly toilet smugness like me.
Back when I was ‘less old’, the most sustainable toilet paper in the local supermarket was the plastic wrapped one labelled FSC – i.e. it still came from hacking down trees, but was okay because those trees were only grown to be chopped down.
Nowadays it’s a God damn minefield. Organic toilet paper? Plastic free toilet paper? Bamboo toilet roll? Recycled? Biodegradable toilet paper? Bleached? Reusable CLOTH?
*imagines self dropping to knees and wailing to the eco Gods
That’s before we even get to what the best eco friendly toilet cleaner is, (it’s citric acid) or if we should really all be looking at alternatives for toilet paper, like… uh leaves?
Having tried several brands of eco toilet paper now, I feel somewhat qualified to share my learnings. *puts professor glasses on bridge of nose and coughs*.
Toilet Paper Facts
The problem is we definitely have to do something.
According to the national geographic aka the eco bible, we are losing an appalling 27,000 trees a DAY for toilet roll
The average Brit uses 13kg of bog roll a year – that’s like 19 i-pads (thanks to this qwerky little site weight and things for that stat. One (non eco) paper toilet roll takes 37 gallons of water to produce, we simply can’t carry on with that shit. Excuse the pun.
Want more toilet roll facts guilt?
That’s 384 trees per person in their life time… just to wipe your arse.
That means that we, the King of Shitters, are the third largest consumers of loo roll IN THE WORLD.
I’ve been on a bamboo splange lately but now I’ve got the Eco Hypocrite vibes that this is all wrong because it comes from China… and frankly that’s almost a swear word these days. So let’s dig in and find out if my gut is right.
Environmental Toilet Paper – What is it?
This is not a black and white answer, because there are several features of ‘good’ sustainable toilet paper. The two main categories of environmental toilet paper are recycled and bamboo. Let’s pick this bad boy apart.
Recycled Toilet Paper
Recycled toilet roll is basically loo roll that ISN’T made from ‘virgin’ wood. So it’s not from trees that are specifically cut down to make it. Recycled toilet paper brands have a choice of materials they can use to make. And relax, because it’s not from old toilet paper that’s been used already. #phew
Recycled Toilet Paper Facts
The best recycled toilet paper is one that’s made in the same country as you’re at, because this means less transport emissions.
As aforementioned, 100% recycled toilet paper is better because it’s reusing, rather than creating new – which all us good eco hypocrites already know is the way forward.
What is Recycled Toilet Paper Made of?
Recycled toilet paper can be made using recycled wood pulp, which is obtained from two sources. The first is from general offcuts from things like wood furniture manufacturing or *struggles to think of a single other example of things made from wood – drumroll… – Wood flooring – THERE.. Ha!
The second is called ‘post-consumer’ which means materials have been used before for other stuff like paper. Much of the time, recycled toilet paper UK brands are made from a blend of both sources, although re-using is the more environmentally friendly option.
This is so the offcuts can be used for biofuel, which is another totally cool way to create energy for wood stoves and biomass boilers and the like.
So when recycled toilet roll is compared to (dodgy sounding) virgin pulp, the virgin pulp uses almost twice as much water to produce and contributes to bastard air pollution. Especially when virgin pulp is usually bleached, adding even more toxins to the equation.
Just stop bloody cutting down trees and leave them forests alone right? *grrr
How is Recycled Toilet Paper Made?
Basically the recycled paper, like old newspapers n’ stuff are mulched down with a load of water until it turns into gooey pulp.
After that the pulp is pumped full of air to make the ink rise to the top in a foamy layer, which is then skimmed off the top, like cream baby.
Then water is removed by pressing the pulp into rollers, which dries it out and (if necessary), has bleach applied to make it all white and clean looking.
Next, the pulp is smeared evenly all over screens and dried off in a special drying machine. After that, the new thin sheets of loo rolls are embossed to make them more absorbent (for those runny days).
The inner cardboard loo roll tubes are then wrapped around and around with the new toilet paper and hey presto, you have yourself a recycled toilet paper roll. Da-Daaaa!
Can You Recycle Toilet Paper?
No, because who in their right mind would want to put someone else’s old poo anywhere near their butthole? Don’t answer that. And for second, who would collect their old shitty toilet roll and have the gall to put it in their recycle bin. Just no.
Recycled Toilet Paper Made in UK
These recycled toilet roll brands are using 100% recycled fibre from the UK and are basically the don of recycled toilet paper that you can buy from an ethical stand point.
Please note, some of these products have an affiliate link attached to them which means that if you choose to purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Boxroll is for those you of feeling patriotic, because it is a British company that manufactures in the UK, using UK recycled post consumer water and is packaged with UK made packaging. You can’t really get more of a British brand than that! the kind of toilet paper you’ll find in refill shops and zero waste so we are talking proper eco friendly toilet paper.
You get 24 rolls of 100% recycled, stark naked in a cardboard box that sealed with vegan ink and glue.
Although there are a generous 300 sheets per roll, it is only 2 ply so on the thinner side of the fence.
If that’s too thin for you, you can opt for the 3 ply version, although they only have x150 sheets in them so a little more pricey but still good value.
Boxroll is made in a tissue mill in North Wales which is then boxed up in East Midlands (aka T’up North).
At £14.50 for 24 rolls, that works out as 60p per roll. Not bad.
Ecoleaf was the first company in the UK to produce 100% recycled paper toilet tissue. They’re one of those brands you can imagine was launched in the 80s and was immediately dismissed for being hippy wierdos.
But these days, they are bathing in the glory of being listed as one of the best eco friendly toilet paper brands you can get.
With recycled fibre that’s exclusively sourced in the UK from 60+ post-consumer waste supply and the rest from manufacturers waste, they have no chlorine bleach. Even their packaging is compostable.
At its cheapest, it’s just 57p a roll for 200 sheets.
My only gripe about the holy grail of earth friendly toilet paper is that it is a bit flimsy. I did buy a round of last June, is that unfortunately we ended up just using LOADS of it and we seemed to be going through a roll a day.
Essential Recycled Toilet Paper
Essential Trading is another super sustainable toilet paper, which is made from washed recycled paper from office waste with oxygen bleaching process using soap and air aka no chlorine. It’s also one of the softest eco friendly toilet paper brands, which your butthole will appreciate I’m sure.
The outer packaging is made from GM Free potato starch, which is 100% compostable and biodegradable. Mind you, it is worth knowing that compostable and biodegradable packaging actually has NO regulations in the UK, so isn’t always trustworthy. My gut says avoid plastic if you can.
Essential is also free from BPA, palm oil, optical brighteners, inks, dyes, chemicals and GMOs and if that ain’t enough to hook you, it’s even suitable for vegans.
One of the best recycled toilet paper UK soil has to offer, the essential brand was awarded the Ethical Consumer Best Buy for Toilet roll – so if it’s good enough for them… Who am I to argue?
Much as Essential is competing for the most eco friendly toilet paper crown and EVEN THOUGH it’s just 50p a roll, it’s only 180 sheets and 2 ply thickness, which makes it finger pokingly thin.
And I’m not sure I want that as my toilet reality.
Made from 100% recycled paper, Traidcraft has the lowest sheet count out of them all at just 166 but it IS 3 ply so it’s a bit thicker than Essential. At 62p per roll, it’s not the cheapest either.
The plastic wrapping is LDPE so can be recycled with your usual plastic bags (but it’s still plastic). One nice thing about this brand is that, true to the name a percentage of your purchase helps to support Traidcraft’s Fair Trade producers.
Other Recycled Toilet Paper Manufacturers
Recycled toilet roll can be found in your local supermarket, but just be sure to check the labels before you buy, because a lot of these guys are just being a bit greenwashy and doing the whole ‘mixed fibres / FSC / .2% is recycled kind of a game plan:
- Sainsburys recycled toilet paper
- Tesco recycled toilet paper
- Aldi recycled toilet paper
- Nouvelle recycled toilet tissue
Bamboo Toilet Roll
The next biggy on the journey to the best eco toilet paper is bamboo. It’s worth mentioning here that all bamboo toilet roll is made in Asia, since that’s where bamboo grows best. There is obviously an environmental cost for transportation which has to be considered.
So Why is Bamboo Toilet Paper Better?
Bamboo is Fast Growing
Well for a start, bamboo grows fast. And I mean really fast. Where chilled out trees take a few decades to grow to their full maturity, bamboo is already there in just 3 to 4 MONTHS. In some cases it’s been known to grow 3 foot in a single DAY.
So it goes without saying that bamboo is very very sustainable. It makes sense if you need to create a product on a grand scale.
Bamboo is Natural
The other thing is that bamboo makes a much more natural toilet paper. This is because bamboo grows without the need for chemicals and pesticides. Less of that means more healthy soil, less dead insects, a better eco-system and a more healthy planet.
Bamboo is Strong
Bamboo is strong. Like He-Man / She-Ra strong. Whilst it’s extremely lightweight and flexible, bamboo is able to withstand incredible pressure and is used to build homes that last for years without deteriorating.
Bamboo is Hygienic
Ideally we want our loo roll to be hygienic and bamboo totally ticks that box too. Bamboo contains something called bamboo kun, which is an antimicrobial bio-agent giving a naturally anti-bacterial quality to its fibres. Not only does that mean bamboo is able to repel bacteria and microbes, it means it’s safe and clean for us to use too.
Bamboo is Ethical
Because of where bamboo is grown, bamboo production gives communities in developing countries the chance to grow local economies. Well paid stable employment is the foundation for happier communities
Bamboo is Environmentally Friendly
Bamboo stores twice as much carbon as trees, enabling them to act as carbon sinks. Their strong roots lay deep in the ground helping soil health as well as keeping it stable against landslides. They also produce up to 35% more oxygen than the equivalent amount of trees!
Bamboo is Flushable
Clogged pipes are nobodys friend so it’s important to have toilet paper that doesn’t block the pipes. The problem with the ‘luxury’ thick toilet paper is that it is prone to blocking the toilet in a flash.
What is Biodegradable Toilet Paper?
Biodegradable just means it will break down into nothing. All things break down eventually, it’s just some (like plastic bottles) take 500 years.
Bamboo toilet roll is 100% biodegradable, which means it breaks down quickly making it easy to flush away.
When using bleach free toilet paper, you are skipping out on adding chemicals to the water system. That means you’re not inadvertently causing harm to wildlife that relies upon the waterways either.
Ethical Toilet Roll Brands using 100% Recycled Fibre or Bamboo Fibre
Who Gives a Crap
Catchy titled and bursting with personality ‘Who Gives a Crap’ are a brand where ‘toilet paper builds toilets’. Founded in Australia back in 2010, these guys tick MANY of the ethical consumer boxes, since they give a whopping 50% of profits towards building toilets in developing countries. In doing so they’re helping to prevent 289,000 children under the age of 5 dying from diseases caused by poor water and sanitation.
They are plastic free, and are made using 100% Recycled Fibre from China / Bamboo fibre from China.
In September 2020, Who gives a crap announced their carbon neutral delivery where they offset the impact of their freight shipping from China. They’re also busy implementing renewable energy in their supply chain which is undoubtedly a hugely positive step.
They’re also B Corp™ certified for the ‘highest standards of social and environmental impact’. Ink and dye free.
That said, they do whiten their loo roll and they do insist on wrapping each individual roll in paper, which is arguably a bit wasteful, albeit a bit prettier.
Who Gives a Crap Bamboo toilet rolls are 3 Ply and have 400 sheets in a roll. Pricewise, you’re looking at 83p per roll (when buying a box of 48), which puts them in joint second place most expensive on my list of bamboo loo rolls.
Founded in 2019 by an Indian businessman, Bumboo are relative new kids on the block. They’re in cohorts with Eden projects and plant a tree for every box purchased, which is a nice touch.
Soft and luxurious, Bumboo is another brand using only 100% bamboo and come in plastic free packaging. I quite like that they give the option of having the toilet paper wrapped or unwrapped, satisfying the most eco picky shopper.
Whitened (although not with chlorine I hasten to add), with no ink and no dyes.
As with all the ‘big’ bamboo loo roll brands, Bumboo is available in boxes of 24 or 48 and you set up a subscription.
Bumboo are also 3 ply but only have 300 sheets in a roll. At 79p Bumboo is smack bang in the middle on my bamboo price list.
Naked sprout is your choice if you’re looking for chemical free toilet paper. These are unbleached, with no chemicals at all.
A small British independent, Naked Sprout claim that carbon emissions in production of their ‘naked’ rolls are 30% lower than recycled toilet paper. In terms of their transport, naked sprout say
“We transport our products by sea freight and use the closest possible ports to our factory and warehouse, to ensure road miles are kept to a minimum. We… deliver using Royal Mail – by using existing network and infrastructure of daily deliveries they have – this also reduces our impact on the environment. As a company we do as much as we can to limit our carbon footprint”.
They are plastic free and like their counterparts come in boxes of 24 or48. 300 sheets per roll, 3 ply and 83p per roll.
They do give school children in Kenya clean drinking water for one year for every box sold, which also adds a nice ethical flavour to this wholesome brand.
British owned Skin Kissed niche is a more luxury feel from bamboo. With 4 ply sheets, this loo roll is softer and 300 sheets per roll gives you value for money. To add to the ‘chic’, each roll is individually wrapped in stylish pink, black and mint colour paper.
Skin Kissed boasts of super softness, which is completely sewer safe and won’t block your toilet. They’re also proudly plastic free and use no chemicals or dyes.
They do however, whiten these rolls, which are made only from organic FUSC Forest certified raw materials, from responsibly managed forests and controlled sources.
A 20% donation of profits also goes to children’s charities.
The Cheeky Panda
Another Australian company formed by husband and wife team Chris and Julie. Cheeky Panda toilet roll is BPA free, formaldehyde free, chlorine free, fragrance free and has no inking agents. It’s also certified vegan and cruelty free.
Cheeky panda are another one on my list who’ve got the Certified B Corporation™ certified, meaning they’re measured in accordance to their entire social and environmental performance.
This 3 ply loo roll has 180 sheets a roll and is the cheapest of my bamboo loo roll recommendations at just 56p a roll.
They also donate ‘part’ of every pack purchased to help the WorldLand trust which protects plant and animals in endangered rainforests.
More recently, cheeky panda donated 10% of their profits to a save the whales charity and in 2020, gave £10,000 towards the WDC conservation projects.
Even though it has a terribly (vegan) cheesy name, I’ve included Bamboo Bobbi on value alone. For those who want to keep it on the eco real but are feeling a little more thrifty, Bamboo Bobbi is your go to.
Although admittedly not as feel good as some of the others, because they don’t donate to charities, Bamboo Bobbi are still worth considering.
Available in boxes of 48 rolls only, bamboo bobbi are no frills but do the job. Made from 100% hand cut FSC traceable bamboo, these are unbleached, dust and chemical free.
At just 60p per 3 ply roll, with 200 sheets each, this is a solid, good value choice if you need to keep the price down.
Importantly, they are as naked as a newborn with no inks, dyes or scents. They’re also plastic free packaging and vegan.
Plastic Free Toilet Roll
There is almost no point in buying recycled loo roll if you’re going to wrap it in single use plastic right? Plastic free recycled toilet paper should be hot on the list if you want guilt free bum care.
Millions of tons of plastic are dumped in the oceans every year, either from waste ships or because it travels into the sea from rivers. Most break down into microplastics that are near impossible to retrieve and have been found in the deepest parts of the ocean. Marine life will and do eat plastic because they think it’s food.
Paper Wrapped Toilet Paper
Brands like Who Gives a Crap loo paper are wrapped in paper, which has long been a bitching topic on many a facebook thread, but they argue it’s for hygiene reasons, which does admittedly work well for corporate and business settings I guess. Also the wrapping paper could essentially be saved and used to actually wrap presents and the like – I saw this one lady do this on my facebook zero waste group for her Christmas presents and actually it looked pretty cool.
Worst Toilet Paper
I can’t very well write a mammoth blog this size and not include the toilet paper to avoid can I?
- The stuff made with the green washy nonsence FSC mix – that just means ‘we chopped down virgin trees for this because we couldn’t be arsed to use recycled materials’.
- Colourful loo paper. Look I don’t care if pink loo roll goes with your bathroom. If it’s coloured, it’s had extra unnecessary processes added and that’s just crap.
- Likewise, chlorine bleached toilet paper will get into the waterways and do nasty stuff to our rivers and things – you know that just ends up back at us, after killing a few wildlife
- Plastic packaging – Just fuck off with that
- ‘Luxury’ extra thick ‘quilted’ bollocks toilet roll – it’s like using a duvet as a skirt. Just no.
These are the brands using FSC mix, meaning they’ve basically chosen to carry on chopping down trees / ignore the plastic / climate crisis and continue to do business as usual. So fuck them (even you Co-op – I’m so disappointed in you right now).
- Aldi Saxon
- Andrex Classic
- Cushelle / Velvet
- Lidl / Floralys
- Marks & Spencer (gasp)
- Regina / Nicky
- Sainsburys Toilet Paper
Best Eco Friendly Toilet Paper UK
Congratulations for making it this far. You are now officially a complete eco toilet paper geek. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but we can wear the turd crown together. #hi-five
Ultimately there is no absolutely net zero completely guilt free way to wipe your ass crack or your Royal Vajesty. Even if you have a bidet and skip toilet paper altogether, you’d still be using water. I guess you could install a squatty and hope for loose hips and a great aim… it is good for the ol’ colon alignment after all. Or no. Let’s just not go there.
I would say this:
During ‘lockdown 1’ when toilet roll sales increased by a fifth (I mean what the merry fuck) and frenzied bog roll grabbing seemed like people must literally shitting down their own legs.
Meanwhile, the smugness I felt as I glanced casually in the ‘loo roll drawer’ and realised we still had about 2 month supply was Gold.
In fact, we always have a boxful because I order my toilet paper on subscription.
Having bought my loo roll in bulk for about 3-4 years I can tell you it’s a game changer, but you do need space to store it of course.
By bulk ordering, only do I never have to be without toilet roll like ever again, I’m also reducing my impact on the environment because I’m not order many little iddy biddy four packs any more. (And I mean frankly, with a house of girls, we do go through toilet paper like it’s some kind of national sport).
Anyway, I digress (again).
After this frankly absurd amount of time learning about toilet roll, my most environmentally friendly toilet paper imaginary award goes to…. Drumroll…
NAKED SPROUT… TA DAAAA!
This was a lot harder than I thought!
Ultimately, bamboo has won me over as most eco green toilet paper for me because of the sheer eco credentials. The fact that Naked Sprout is a British brand, is unbleached AND naked is what won them brownie points (just SO many poo jokes).
Although the price is up there I agree, it feels good to know that out there somewhere we’re supporting a kid getting clean drinking water.
Much as I REALLY like the ethos of Who Gives a Crap (Bamboo) too (and you do get 100 sheets more per roll), and especially their carbon neutral offsetting thing, I just can’t help but feel all that extra paper wrapped around the individual rolls is just a bit unnecessary.
I also just don’t see the need for the whitening process. If we’re wiping shit on it, why does it need to be white?
And as I’m on my eco high horse, I choose less.
Thank you for baring (snarf) with me in my full investigation of the most sustainable toilet paper. I hope you agree with my invisible award and would love to hear if you agree or disagree in the comments below. Feel free to let me know your best environmentally friendly toilet paper and why. Happy poo-ing!