2020; what a strange year it has been. We’ve all been in and out of lockdowns, social distancing from friends and family, wearing face masks, and of course back in March, buying way too much toilet paper. And don’t even deny it, Google trends data says it all.
Toilet paper is considered a necessity for many people around the world, but with deforestation and the climate crisis, many are looking at alternative toilet papers. But is this rise in demand for alternative toilet paper good for the planet?
According to theworldcounts.com, globally we use around 22 billion kilometers of toilet paper per year. This distance almost equates to traveling the circumference of our planet… 50,000 times! With the worldwide population purchasing around 184 million rolls of toilet paper each year, it probably comes as no surprise that this has damaging environmental impacts on our planet.
In fact, the 42 million tonnes of toilet paper which is used each and every year means that it takes around 712 million trees to produce. So far this year, over 27 million hectares of forests have been cut down or burned. Deforestation affects ecosystems, wildlife and habitats, weather patterns, and the climate of the earth. Forest loss is not decreasing and according to Greenpeace, if we carry on with the current rate of deforestation, there will be no forests left by the year 2100.
The production process of toilet paper not only requires trees but water and oil too. About 1,165 million tonnes of water is used each year during toilet-paper production, as well as around 78 million tonnes of oil. WWF highlights the importance of freshwater resources as with poor water management, wasting and/or using too much water can and has caused water shortages for about 1/3rd of the population worldwide. As for oil, its impacts on the environment are just as damaging from both emissions and biodiversity stand points. As getting access to crude oil often involves drilling under the ocean floor and harming marine mammals, fish, and birds, especially when it comes to accidental oil spills. The method of fracking for oil also produces large amounts of water wastage which usually contains many contaminants.
Using toilet paper that is made from recycled paper is better for the environment as it requires no trees to be cut down and it also saves around half of the water usage. Recycled toilet paper isn’t the only eco-friendly option on the market either. There’s also toilet paper which is made from bamboo. According to RIO, bamboo is sustainable as it grows rapidly requiring less water and no fertilizer. It also produces 35% more oxygen than other trees, and is strong and flexible as well as being cheap and versatile. Companies that work with bamboo and recycled materials to produce toilet paper are also taking extra steps to be environmentally friendly with their packaging, carbon footprint, and sustainability missions. If you’re looking to switch your conventional toilet paper for a more earth-friendly brand, check out some of the leading organizations below.
Who Gives A Crap
Who Gives A Crap has been hailed by many organizations and studies as the leader of the board when it comes to not only producing a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative for toilet paper but also for their impact on human rights and tackling poverty. They work with well-known partners such as Water Aid and donate 50% of profits to help build toilets around the world.
Reel makes 100% bamboo toilet paper as well as completely plastic-free packaging. Similar to Who Gives A Crap, their mission is to illuminate illness by providing toilets to areas around the world that need support with water, sanitation, and hygiene.
Seventh Generation has a huge line of products, recycled toilet paper being one of them. They use plant-based real ingredients and recycled packaging across their product lines. Their toilet paper is Rainforest Alliance Certified and is made from 100% recycled paper.
So if care about your environmental footprint and you’re wanting to make a difference by helping to save 712 million trees from being cut down each year, check out alternative toilet papers!
Also by Anna: 5 Simple, Sustainable Lifestyle Changes You Can Make
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Photo: Google Trends; Canva