Bog Standard Loo Roll Hitting A Bum Note?

green toilet paper

Toilet paper – it’s probably not too high up on most people’s list of considerations with regards to the environment but it is something that we take for granted in this modern world. It is also something that we all use, bidets aside.

I struggled with whether I should even bother writing this article; I couldn’t make up my mind as to whether I/we should be sweating the little things like this but in the end the numbers proved that we should at least give it some consideration.

According to this article from the Guardian, the average person in the UK goes through about 50 rolls of toilet paper each year. Tesco has got carbon labels on its own brand loo roll and says it comes out at 2g per sheet for standard toilet tissue and 1.3g per sheet for the recycled stuff. With 240 sheets on the average roll, that would result in annual carbon footprint per person of 24kg for standard rolls and 15.6kg for recycled paper.

So, an 8.4kg CO2e saving per person per year – sounds like we should all just get on with life and use whatever loo roll we want right? Well, yes….and no.

Ok so that is only about the same as driving 25 miles in the “average” UK car but this is where it starts to get a little more interesting because there are roughly 60 million people in the UK which would mean the equivalent of 1.5 billion fewer road miles each year in the UK alone if we all switched to recycled toilet paper.

Clearly 504,000 tonnes of CO2e is small in the grand scheme of things but it is certainly not to be sniffed at.

Andrex Eco To The Rescue?

I bring this whole subject up because while I was shopping the other week I saw Andrex Eco on sale and thought I’d give it a try. It is made from 90% recycled paper and 10% bamboo.

I was already buying (and very happy with) Waitrose’s own brand recycled toilet paper but I was curious as to how the bamboo would effect things.

What I would say straight away is that because it is 3-ply instead of my usual 2-ply, it was certainly that bit thicker and a bit stronger although the bamboo might have had something to do with that.

Is it soft? Well it’s probably not as soft as some of these ludicrous Shea butter or cashmere-enriched options (if you think I’m joking – I’m not!) but it was plenty soft for me and do you really need such extravagance for your backside? I’d argue not.

My biggest problem is that because it is 3-ply and not the standard 2-ply I was using, it is likely that the carbon footprint is at least 50% more.

So no, I will not be switching to Andrex Eco going forward. I don’t see the toilet as an area of my life in which I need luxury so the extra layer is just not necessary for me.

I think I’d be fighting a losing battle if I tried to convince everybody in the country to switch to recycled toilet paper but half a million tonnes of CO2e is a huge amount when considered in its own right. It just goes to show how quickly things add up.

So, will you switch to a 100% recycled 2-ply sheet like me? Or do you think I’m missing the point here?

Steve (156 Posts)

I am chief writer and editor on Green Steve. Blogging since 2011, I like to delve into a wide number of topics to help people reduce their carbon footprint. You should follow me on Twitter here. And add me to your Google+ circles here.

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