Well crap: toilet paper is killing the environment

According to an article in the Guardian, American’s taste for toilet paper is worse for the environment than driving hummers.

I don’t know where to begin with that, I really don’t. It hits close to home given that I just put toilet paper (which I affectionately refer to as “shitpaper” because it frustrates Benjamin to no end — he calls it “bathroom tissue”) on the grocery list.

Benjamin would be the first to tell you that I use too much toilet paper. I counter that I don’t use an excessive amount of toilet paper per session. I probably do have more than the average number of toilet paper applicable sessions per day, due in no small part to my high fiber diet.

The plan from here is clear: buy toilet paper made from non-virgin wood, use fewer squares per session, and eat less fiber. No one said saving the planet was going to be easy.

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I'm a gay geek living in Seattle, WA.

8 thoughts on “Well crap: toilet paper is killing the environment”

  1. Try a bidet! Grab a handheld one for $20 (that’s the exact model we have and it’s fine). Attach it to your toilet and see if you like it; you can always upgrade your fixtures down the road. A quick squirt of water is faster, more effective, and far greener than TP. Then you just need a square or two of paper if you want to dab dry. Huzzah, clean anus! Just call me Heloise. :)


    1. Yeah, that article only touched on it in passing (with the comment “and 100 times more than the average person in China”), but the vast majority of the world doesn’t actually use toilet paper. In places like India, areas frequently don’t have the septic system appropriately for dealing with large amounts of toilet paper clogging it up. Instead, well, they have buckets next to every squat toilet, you put water in the bucket and you pour it on.

      I personally was never really comfortable enough doing it, but I’ve been thinking about it …


      1. It goes between the supply line and the bottom of your toilet tank. Nothing fancy, really just a long-necked vegetable sprayer with an adjustable pressure valve, but it gets the job done. Installation is a 10-minute job with just your hands and preferably some teflon tape. If you end up using it for years like we have then you may end up needing to replace the rubber gasket after a while, which is only slightly more involved. (I just did this last night after this thread jogged my memory.) And Google will supply you with a vast array of alternative configurations and styles ranging from $20 into the hundreds. Just what you can save on paper in the long term is a significant budget, even before factoring in hygiene and ecology.

        And if a neurotic straight suburban dad like me can get over the “girliness” factor, anyone can. :)


  2. I nag my wife for using handfuls (from my perspective) every time she pisses, but what’re you going to do?

    My use averages 12 squares a day of the Cotsco brand, since its double ply I’m down from the 18 squares a day I used of Scott tissue.

    High fiber diet != lots of potty breaks; everyone’s physiology is different. I go once a day usually; “normal” is 1/3 to 3 times a day.


  3. you should have seen my face

    when I read somewhere that Kleenex was making tissue from hard wood trees. cutting down oaks so I could blow my nose on them.

    I thought: my gods! if that’s so, I must be personally responsible for the deforestation of the entire planet!

    ever since then, I’ve been hunting down the “green” brands which use recycled paper and don’t add bleach. for both ends.

    I am trying to think about using handkerchiefs (I can’t even spell that word. and I’d need about 1,000 handkerchiefs) for my *nose*.


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