How green is your toilet tissue?
A few weeks ago, Sainsbury’s announced that they are releasing a new toilet roll that would save
140 tonnes for CO2 every year. It’s a lofty claim, and one that does stand out among many other
companies who produce recycled toilet tissue to appear to the environmentally conscious.
But are some of these companies really making a green product? And which is the best buy?
Toilet tissue is made from virgin wood. It seems rather ridiculous, but in order to make toilet tissue trees are cut down. Even tissue with an FSC logo can be made from virgin wood, because FSC certification only means that a company is using sustainable practises. According to the Guardian, the average Briton uses 50 toilet rolls each year, a massive environmental impact in and of itself, but astronomical when you consider that most commercial toilet tissue is made using harsh chemicals such as chlorine bleach, and all of those fancy patterned and scented tissues contain chemical fragrances, lotions and dyes. These things are horrible to introduce into the environment and can adversely affect the tissue’s ability to biodegrade. They can also irritate sensitive skin and cause allergic reactions. By purchasing recycled toilet tissue, especially one containing locally sourced materials, zero chemicals and even recyclable packaging, you ensure that you reduce your carbon footprint and the affect our toilet tissue has on our planet.
Every supermarket has its own brand of toilet tissue, and increasingly almost every supermarket also has its own eco-friendly variety. Tissue made of 100% recycled paper is the most popular, and below are the stats for each major supermarket brand.
- Morrisons—100% recycled paper, and holding the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo.
- Co-operative—100% recycled paper, with an FSC logo.
- Tesco—100% recycled paper, with an FSC logo and a tiny Mobius Loop.
- Waitrose—100% recycled paper, with the European Union Ecolabel.
- Sainsbury’s—100% recycled paper, with an FSC logo.
- ASDA—“Shades” and “Smart Price” varieties both made of 100% recycled paper; “Shades” is FSC certified, while “Smart Price” only has the Mobius Loop.
What do these logos mean?
Having FSC certification means that a company uses sustainable forestry practises as determined by a third party audit of the company. The EU Ecolabel is awarded to companies whose products “have a reduced impact on the environment throughout their life cycle”. The Mobius Loop (the recycling symbol) is used to tell consumers that a product can be recycled, although the symbol is not governed by strict rules and consequently even if a product has the Loop that doesn’t necessarily mean it can be recycled in your area.
There are two types of name brands: there’s the name brand that sells an eco-friendly variety of their product, and there’s the name brand that does nothing but produce eco-friendly products.
- Andrex—a big name brand that has recently released an eco-friendly toilet tissue made from recycled paper and natural bamboo. Packaging is also recyclable, made from 100% recycled materials, and all product materials are locally sourced. It is FSC certified and carries the Mobius
Loop. Can be found at most supermarkets.
- Papura—made from 90% sugar cane and 10% wood pulp, and produced without bleach or dyes or animal testing. Can be found at Waitrose.
- Nouvelle—made from 100% recycled high-quality paper and carries the Mobius Loop. Can be found at most supermarkets.
- Essential—made from 100% recycled paper, biodegradable, and free from chlorine, bleaches, dyes and brighteners. Can be found in organic and fair trade shops, as well as online eco retailers.
- Ecoleaf—part of the Suma brand, their 100% recycled toilet tissue also has 100% compostable packaging. They use locally sourced post-consumer waste and manufacturers waste, and they don’t use bleaches, dyes or any other nasty chemicals. Can be found in organic and fair trade shops, as well as online eco retailers.
Photography: Macron*macron(Est Bleu2007) @Flickr