You might think that toilet paper is just a sanitary tool. But we should, if you haven’t already, put in the effort to choose the right one that matches not just our skin but also our values.
As important as it is, here are four things to consider the next time you purchase your toilet paper rolls.
1. The number of plies
When people buy toilet paper, the number of plies is what most would take into consideration. “Ply” refers to the layers of sheets in toilet paper. Naturally, more plies make the toilet paper thicker and softer.
But at the same time, it is less cost-effective and more harmful to the environment, especially if it’s not made of eco-friendly materials (more on this later). A thicker toilet paper that does not break down easily may also clog a toilet bowl, which tends to happen when you flush away one too many.
2. The material used
Toilet paper, like other paper products, comes from wood pulp. With the extensive usage of toilet paper around the globe, imagine how many trees have been sacrificed if we use virgin pulp to produce toilet paper.
As environmental concerns rise, some toilet papers are now made from recycled paper. Apart from saving trees, recycled toilet paper also uses less water in production, reduces energy consumption, and generates fewer air pollutants during production.
Another eco-friendly option is tree-free toilet paper, which is made from the fibres of bamboo and/or sugarcane. Bamboo and sugarcane regenerate faster than trees — three to four months as opposed to 30 years — making tree-free toilet paper a more efficient alternative.
3. How long does it take to biodegrade?
As all toilet papers are made from natural materials, they are biodegradable. But the issue lies in the length of time taken to biodegrade. On a side note, one of the main reasons why plastic is the nemesis of a green environment is because it takes forever to break down.
Regular wood pulp toilet paper requires more water and takes longer to break down than toilet paper made from bamboo and sugarcane. Tree-free toilet paper may be more expensive, but it requires much less energy to produce and is one of the most sustainable toilet papers.
The number of plies, as mentioned in the first point, also affects how long it takes to biodegrade. A single ply may be good for the environment, but it may not be sufficient for your sensitive areas.
4. Is it unbleached?
Chlorine is used in a bleaching process to turn toilet paper white. As chlorine can rapidly react with other chemicals to produce dioxins and other cancer-causing pollutants, it is detrimental to the environment and our health.
Toxins may enter our body through wiping and eventually cause serious illness or cancer. Fragrances and dyes used in toilet paper may also cause medical issues or allergic reactions. Although unbleached toilet paper may be harsh to the touch, it is ultimately the safest option.