These days, we are starting to look more deeply at habits we have that might damage the environment. Things that we take for granted like using toilet paper.
Since bamboo is becoming more popular in products because of how sustainable it is, it is now being used as a toilet paper alternative.
But, is bamboo toilet paper better than traditional? Is it safe to use? Read on to find out all you need to know about bamboo toilet paper to make the right choice.
In this article:
- Is bamboo toilet paper environmentally friendly?
- Does bamboo toilet paper block drains?
- Is bamboo toilet paper septic safe?
- Bamboo toilet paper vs recycled toilet paper
- Why is bamboo toilet paper so expensive?
- Pros and cons of bamboo TP
- The problem with traditional toilet paper
- Why and how to go toilet paper free
- Bottom Line
Is bamboo toilet paper environmentally friendly?
Bamboo toilet paper is generally more environmentally friendly than traditional toilet paper due to the better sustainability of the material it’s made of – bamboo.
However, there are some important moments that need to be discussed. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, bamboo toilet paper is better for the environment because:
- bamboo helps to rebuild soil
- bamboo grows 20 times faster than typical trees of the northern forest
- bamboo toilet paper production process releases 30% fewer greenhouse gasses.
Besides, growing bamboo requires no pesticides and the plants absorb 5 times more CO2 than trees.
However not all bamboo toilet paper is equally sustainable. Often bamboo growers get rid of already existing forests in order to start a bamboo farm. It causes damage to the existing ecosystem and severely impacts the biodiversity of the area.
To make a sustainable choice look for toilet paper products that are FSC certified. It will ensure its low impact on the forest.
Another important point is the bleaching process. Most of us are used to toilet paper being white. Before 1990 elemental chlorine was used to achieve the white color. Elemental chlorine is both bad for the environment and our health. In 1990 the chemical got banned from being used to bleach toilet paper. And the producers proudly displayed an ECF (Elemental Chlorine Free) certification on their toilet paper package.
However these days it’s really not enough. ECF toilet paper is still processed with chlorine bleach, just a different kind. What you want in your toilet paper is a TCF (Totally Chlorine Free) which means no type of chlorine was used to bleach the toilet paper.
If you don’t care for the white color you can go for unbleached toilet paper which is even a better choice.
The best bamboo toilet paper is also fragrance-free and hypoallergenic as well as being panda friendly.
Does bamboo toilet paper block drains?
Some “ultra-thick” and “heavy-duty” traditional toilet paper are known to clog toilets. It happens because even though all toilet paper is technically biodegradable, some may take up to a week to disintegrate in water and may clump up in your pipes.
The bamboo fibers are highly water-soluble and will come apart very easily which allows the water to pass through without an issue. If you are not using an excessive amount, bamboo toilet paper it is not likely to cause a clog.
Toilet paper made out of bamboo is stronger which means you can clean yourself with less tissue. If you use a couple of squares per use then you won’t have any issue with it clogging your plumbing.
If you are still concerned about the safety of bamboo toilet paper for your drain you can do a simple experiment:
- Rip off a couple of sheets of bamboo toilet paper and put it in a decent size jar full of water.
- Close the lid tightly and vigorously shake the jar for about 10 seconds.
This roughly simulates what happens with the toilet paper after you push the flush button. What you want to see in the jar after the experiment is the sheets of toilet paper broken down into small pieces. This means it won’t clog your drain.
Is bamboo toilet paper septic safe?
Bamboo toilet paper dissolves easily when it is in contact with the type of bacteria and fungus that is found in your septic tank. It drops down to the bottom of the tank and then quickly becomes a sludge.
Bamboo toilet paper doesn’t contain any additives. This helps it to disintegrate faster than traditional toilet paper. It’s what makes bamboo toilet paper a good choice for RVs and campers.
You should be regularly using a septic tank treatment anyway to add more of the beneficial bacteria that helps break things down. But, you won’t need to use it more often because of the bamboo in your tank.
Bamboo toilet paper vs recycled toilet paper
When you care about the environment you want to make the best choice you can. Both recycled and bamboo toilet paper claim to be sustainable options. But after doing some research it turns out that there is no clear winner in this battle.
What toilet paper is better for the environment?
Not all bamboo fibers are created equally. But if the bamboo is sourced from the FSC certified producer it is sustainable. It grows fast, takes care of the soil quality, and doesn’t require pesticides.
However in most cases, either bamboo pulp or toilet paper needs to be transported all the way from Asia which is not ideal. Energy and water also needs to be spent to process fiber into pulp.
Recycled toilet paper production process requires less energy and water because it is easier to make pulp from paper compared to virgin wood fibers.
Not all recycled toilet paper is made of 100% postconsumer recycled paper. Sometimes, it’s only 50% of recycled paper and 50% of virgin wooden fibers which is better than all wood but kills the point of using the recycled paper.
A big downside of recycled toilet paper is that it contains BPA. It’s a chemical that is linked to infertility. It gets into toilet paper from the plastic traces and ink in the recycled paper. Unfortunately there is no way to avoid it.
The studies show that it doesn’t pose significant health risks to us consumers due to its low concentration in toilet paper. However it’s a different story with the environment. The chemical will eventually get into the water system and will affect the wildlife.
What toilet paper is better from a consumer point of view?
Consumers have reported that bamboo toilet paper is generally softer than recycled toilet paper. It is due to the nature of the bamboo fibers that are softer than rough wooden fibers. Recycled toilet paper is much cheaper than bamboo toilet paper (more on the cost below).
Depending on the stores you are frequenting it may be hard to find bamboo toilet paper on the shelf yet. You may have to order it online.
If you do want to use recycled toilet paper over bamboo because of its single use status then look for ones that are unbleached and made without dyes or fragrances.
Why is bamboo toilet paper so expensive?
The biggest reason for the high price of bamboo toilet paper is scale. It is not nearly as big an industry as traditional toilet paper and the companies that make it are not able to do things on a massive scale to reduce the cost to make it.
There is also the cost to harvest and process the bamboo. Since it isn’t like trees, the pulp is a little more difficult to process.
Lastly, there is the cost to get it to market and then the marketing. Again, since this is a much smaller operation, the cost to get it out to the consumer is greater especially since it requires more money to promote since it is a different type of product than what people are used to or looking for.
Pros and cons of bamboo toilet paper
There are many advantages to using bamboo toilet paper, but some might still feel like it isn’t worth it. It pays to know what the disadvantages are as well. Here are some of the pros and cons to keep in mind before you make the switch.
- Easily biodegradable
- Very strong
- Lasts longer than a roll of traditional TP
- Great for sensitive skin
- Fewer chemicals used than on recycled toilet paper
- Works great for septic tanks, RVs and campers
- Is more expensive than traditional TP
- Not available everywhere (You need to buy online usually)
The problem with traditional toilet paper
The biggest problem with traditional toilet paper is its impact on the environment. It takes a lot of trees for us to wipe our bums and it is totally unnecessary.
The raising of these forests is also energy intensive and pollutes from start to finish even though the trees planted do absorb lots of CO2.
It takes a lot of water to make the pulp which gets wasted or has to be processed before it goes back into the environment.
Then there is the impact on the environment from the processing and siposing of the TP. It uses a lot of bleach to whiten and soften the wood pulp to make it comfortable to use. And for some reason, people want their toilet paper to be white.
There is recycled toilet paper that can offset some of the destructive practices of the paper industry in making the TP but is not exactly eco friendly itself.
Often there are a lot of chemicals that are used to process the toilet paper. If you do want to use recycled toilet paper over bamboo because of its single use status then look for ones that are unbleached and made without dyes or fragrances.
Why and how to go toilet paper free
Your best bet is to go toilet paper free and use alternatives rather than look for sustainable toilet paper. No toilet paper is truly sustainable and that even includes bamboo. Sure, bamboo is better than cutting down a forest to make sure you can wipe your butt, but it is the lesser of two evils.
The best thing to do is to get yourself a bidet and leave toilet paper behind for good. Using a bidet is sanitary, great for the environment and saves you money.
I hope this article opened up your eyes as to the options you have for your toilet paper needs. Bamboo toilet paper has it’s advantages and disadvantages but overall it is a good alternative to using traditional toilet paper.
If you have any questions at all then drop a line in the comment box below and I will get back to you ASAP.