What are the Facts & Effects Of Toilet Papers On The Environment?

In the western world, the vast majority of us use toilet paper on a daily basis without a second thought. However, conventional toilet paper is becoming less and less sustainable and is increasingly detrimental to our precious planet. Read on for some interesting facts about toilet paper.

Q - How much toilet paper do we really use?

A - Worldwide, we use around 42 million tons of toilet paper every year. That’s around 184 million rolls, or 22 billion kilometres of toilet paper – almost 50,000 times the distance around planet earth.

Q - What is the difference between conventional toilet paper and recycled toilet paper?

A - There are many differences. Firstly, the production of virgin pulp toilet paper emits 30 per cent more greenhouse gases compared with toilet paper created from recycled waste paper. The greenhouse gas emissions from just the production of wood pulp, which is then used to manufacture tissue paper, is about three times higher than what’s emitted during the collection and transportation of recycled waste paper.

Q - What are the benefits of buying recycled toilet paper?

A - The difference between using new toilet paper and toilet paper made from recycled materials is around 712 million trees. In addition, recycling saves about half the water usage and one third of the energy used to produce conventional toilet paper.

Hands holding shredded recycled paper

Hafiez Razali via Shutterstock

Q - Is toilet paper recyclable?

A - No, toilet paper is not recyclable. It’s a single-use product, so after it’s used, it’s flushed away and disintegrates. This is another reason why recycled waste paper is a much better choice for creating toilet paper.

Q - Is water wasted to produce toilet paper?

A - Yes. Cleaning and preparing pulp requires water – in fact a whopping 140 litres of water is needed to manufacture a single roll of toilet paper. 

Q - What is the environmental impact of using toilet paper?

A - Worldwide, the equivalent of almost 270,000 trees are either flushed down the toilet or dumped in landfill on a daily basis, and roughly 10 per cent of that – 27,000 trees – is attributable to toilet paper. According to NASA, the world's rainforests will be gone by 2100 if we keep cutting it down at the same pace. Check out this counter for up-to-date info on how much resources we’re currently extracting from the earth. 

Pine forest cut down

Timothy Epp via Shutterstock

Q - Is it necessary to cut down forests for toilet paper?

A - No, absolutely not! There are plenty of better options available, including buying bamboo toilet paper or recycled toilet paper. “There is no need to cut down forests to make toilet roll, yet this is precisely what is happening,” said Alex Crumbie, a researcher for Ethical Consumer. “Only around 30 per cent of the world’s population uses toilet roll so we know that there are lots of perfectly hygienic alternatives to using paper-based products. It’s important we consider what we’re using to wipe our behinds with, because at the moment our precious planet is getting a bum deal.”

Q - How can we make better choices when we buy toilet paper?

A - As mentioned above, bamboo or recycled toilet paper are much better choices than buying conventional toilet paper, which is made using pulp from virgin trees. You could even consider ditching toilet paper and installing a bidet at home.

Q - Is recycled toilet paper a better choice than conventional toilet paper?

A - Every day 27,000 trees are cut down to make regular toilet paper, so by choosing recycled toilet paper you’re helping to reduce deforestation. Trees that are saved from being cut down for toilet paper can be left in place to produce oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide and gases, and provide natural habitats for our animal friends.

Rows of tree logs waiting to be processed

 OlegRi via Shutterstock

10 interesting facts about toilet paper

1 - It takes 71.48 bathroom visits to use just one single roll of toilet paper.

2 The average person uses 8.6 sheets during each trip to the bathroom.

3 - Apart from being used to wipe after toileting, loo roll is most commonly used for wiping and blowing your nose!

4 - A roll of toilet paper lasts five days in the most-used bathroom of a house.

5 - A staggering 384 trees are cut down to make a lifetime’s worth of toilet paper for just one person.

6 - The average person flushes a toilet more than 2500 times a year.

7 - The US Army used toilet paper as camouflage. During Desert Storm, the US Army used toilet paper to camouflage its tanks.

8 -  Toilet paper is designed to decompose. Even though they may feel similar, toilet paper and facial tissues aren’t the same. The fibres used to make toilet paper are very short, which allow the paper to begin disintegrating within seconds of becoming wet. This design allows the paper to dissolve in septic systems. After getting wet, toilet paper still retains about 15 per cent of its dry strength.

9 - Toilet paper is ranked third in overall sales of non-food items, and accounts for more than $4 billion in US sales annually.

10 -  Before toilet paper was invented, people used to use a wide range of materials to wipe their private parts, including hay, corncobs, leaves, sticks, stones, sand moss, hemp, wool, husks, fruit peels, ferns, sponges, seashells and even broken pottery. Ouch!

While at Pure Planet Club we don’t currently stock recycled toilet paper, you can purchase a box of 36 rolls of our tree-free bamboo toilet paper as one-off option, or you can also set up a handy subscription so your environmentally friendly eco toilet paper is delivered directly to your doorstep – plus you’ll get 10% off each carton. Just set and forget, all from the comfort of your home. We are always adding new products to our range too so watch this space and sign up for our newsletter to be first in the know.

Did you know? National Toilet Paper Day is on August 26.