Toilet Paper: Paper, or Plastic?

frog figurines next to toilet paper
Photo by Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay.

Toilet paper is one of those things that we all buy and use. But have you ever noticed that the vast majority of brands wrap it in plastic? Then you take that package home and throw the plastic in the trash because it’s not recyclable. My family used Quilted Northern for years and threw away that plastic packaging every week. I tried Charmin brand once, and they wrapped every 4 rolls of toilet paper in plastic. Those were then wrapped inside of the 16 pack with more plastic packaging.

I’ve looked everywhere locally – Food City, Publix, Wal-Mart, Target, Earthfare, and Whole Foods. The majority is plastic wrapped, sadly. You can buy individual rolls of toilet paper that are wrapped in paper at the local stores, but that is not cost effective for a family.

Affordable plastic-free toilet paper?

The first thing I did a couple of years ago was to check, as blogger Beth Terry is an authority on living plastic free. In 2007 she addressed the issue and discovered that she could buy a case of 60 paper wrapped rolls of Seventh Generation toilet paper from Amazon (click here for her article). The company uses recycled paper and post-consumer recycled paper in their products. I do not normally buy in bulk, but I was about to make this switch when I discovered the company, Who Gives a Crap. Their claim: “We make all of our products with environmentally friendly materials, and we donate 50% of our profits to help build toilets for those in need.” I decided to give it a try since they seemed legitimate. I received my box (see image) and was really excited!

Who Gives A Crap toilet paper
My Who Gives A Crap toilet paper order.

Believing that some things are too good to be true, I posted on’s discussion board about the company. Beth Terry had heard of it but not yet tried it. Since then, she has not only tried the product and switched to it, but she extensively interviewed the head of product and sourcing of Who Gives A Crap via email and asked important questions about their claims and products. It’s a good interview and I respect the company even more now. Please read it!

FYI, their toilet paper is free of BPA, which apparently does show up in recycled toilet papers. Another issue for another post, but one which covered thoroughly.

I did not get paid or receive gifts to write this post. However, if you decide to try Who Gives A Crap, please use this link and we’ll both get $10 off our next order.

Are there alternatives?

Yes, there are. Bidets are like an additional toilet used for washing your nether regions. Installed in the bathroom, usually next to the toilet, and more popular in Europe and Japan than North America. If you still don’t understand how they function or how one would use a bidet, read this. For the history of the bidet, read here.

Does the use of a bidet reduce toilet paper consumption, and hence save trees? According to an article in Scientific American, they not only save trees but they save water (water from the production of toilet paper).

Personally, I’d be willing to try this but there is just no room in our small bathroom.

There’s also something called family cloth, which are basically reusable cloth wipes that you launder after each use and then use again post laundering. I had a family member who made her own to use while she was pregnant because she was peeing so frequently – brilliant! I’ll refrain from writing a lengthy dialogue about it for now because there are so many articles already out there. Here’s one from BuzzFeed that I enjoyed reading. But I did find articles that indicated that this practice can spread germs – on the other hand, what did we do before the modern toilet paper roll?

That’s another article for another day, I think.

Have you found other brands of plastic-free toilet paper? Or have you tried one of these alternatives, or even another that I did not cover? I’d love to know if you’ve thought of something else!