A Green Resolution: Switching to Eco-friendly Toilet Paper

This year, I solemnly resolve to switch from planet-killing conventional toilet paper to eco-friendly recycled toilet paper.  Most of my green practices end up saving me money: buying secondhand, eating lower on the food chain, and conserving electricity.  However, every once in a while my frugality and eco-consciousness conflict.  I just couldn’t fathom spending extra money on something like toilet paper. 

I already avoided buying almost all other paper products, so I figured I was doing enough.  I had this nagging feeling, though, that my T.P. preferences needed to change.  But why?  Would buying recycled toilet paper make much of a difference?  I learned that we wipe out virgin forests by supporting conventional brands.  Read more about it here.

Conventional toilet papers also use chlorine dioxide, an environmental toxin.  Sarah van Schagen wrote on grist.org, “If every household in the U.S. replaced just one roll of toilet paper with recycled paper, we’d save almost half a million trees.”  That convinced me—it’s time for my old ways to change. 

So how do I make the switch without blowing my budget?  You could avoid using toilet paper altogether.  Imagine the savings!  Here are some toilet paper avoidance methods for the extremely dedicated Earth enthusiasts: 

  • The dietary regulation technique: It is possible to streamline your diet to the point of not needing toilet paper.  Or so I’ve read.
  • The continental: This involves a bidet and some extra air-drying time.
  • The Swiss Family Robinson:  This approach requires an invigorating forage through nature to collect appropriately absorbent leaves and grasses.
  • Depression-era Renaissance: For years people gave the Sears Roebuck catalog a new purpose.
  • Wash-n-dry: It’s like using handkerchiefs . . . for your backside. 

I put some serious thought into each method above and dismissed it for one reason or another.  It looks like I’m going to have to loosen my purse strings and buy the more expensive, eco-friendlier toilet paper.  After steeling myself for the inevitable bankruptcy I was sure would follow the great T.P. switch of ‘08, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could support the eco-friendly brands without risking financial ruin.  My regular grocery store carries twelve double-rolls of Seventh Generation toilet paper, which is made from 100% recycled paper, for just $11.  That amounts to 16.5 cents a square foot.  The cheapest conventional T.P. costs 7.88 cents a square foot and the most expensive costs 28.44 cents.  That puts the Seventh Generation product at below the average cost of conventional brands. 

Not everyone is a believer in New Year’s resolutions.  Some say they set an impossible standard, leading to crushed dreams and bitter disappointment.  I’ve always enjoyed making a few attainable goals at the beginning of a new year.  (I’ve also been good about “forgetting” the resolutions I don’t follow up on.)  My year 2000 resolution to bring canvas bags into the grocery store is still going strong.  Buying recycled toilet paper will turn out to be an even easier resolution—costing no extra time, no extra energy and just a few cents more at the grocery store.


  1. I find that if u can get a buying group between a few families, you can get better purchasing power and buy from paper suppliers to commerce rather than buying from the supermarkets and u may get better value as often commercial toilet rolls are longer in length and recycled paper is available. We use green earth toilet paper.

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