Can toilet paper ever be environmentally friendly?

According to the Confederation of Paper Industries, 1.3 million tonnes of tissue is used in the UK every year, with 1.1 million of it being imported into the UK.

How many trees does it take to make 1 ton of paper?

logs marcin-kempa-UJFdzFReEtY-unsplashAccording to data from the Global Forest Resource Assessment roughly 80,000 to 160,000 trees are cut down each day around the world with a significant percentage being used in the paper industry. WWF in an article ‘Price of Toilet Paper for the planet’ say that the amount of wood harvested annually may need to triple by 2050 to meet projected global demands for all industries—including pulp and paper.

Why are Trees Good for the Planet?
Trees absorb CO2. They need it to grow. In return, they release oxygen which helps us breathe. Talk about a win-win scenario.

Only 30% of the world’s population uses toilet roll
Alex Crumbie researcher for Ethical Consumer which did research into ethical toilet paper in 2019 said: “Only around 30% of the world’s population uses toilet roll,” Crumbie added, “so we know that there are lots of perfectly hygienic alternatives to using paper-based products. It’s important we consider what we’re using to wipe our behinds with, because at the moment our precious planet is getting a bum deal.”

The Ethical Consumer report said that when buying toilet paper you should consider these questions:

  • Is it Recycled?
  • Is it made from recycled fibre
  • Is packaging recycled?

If it carries the label FSC Mix it will have been made using virgin wood pulp. There is no need to cut down forests to make toilet roll.

In 2005 Duncan Pollard, Head of WWF’s European Forest Programme said:

“Everyday about 270,000 trees are effectively flushed down the toilet or end up as garbage around the world, such a use of the forests is both wasteful and unnecessary.”

So, what are the alternatives?


bidetIs it time for the bidet to make a comeback in the UK? The woman who started reusable period pants in the US invented the Tushy – an attachable bidet spray for the toilet. In the UK similar attachments to the toilet are sold as Japanese toilets – see a range here

While you may need to use a small amount of tissue paper to dry, you will use MUCH less paper.


Bamboo and Recycled toilet paper and tissues.

bamboo BofgeVFG-_w-unsplash


Bamboo is more sustainable because it grows much more quickly, it regenerates itself, and it doesn’t contribute to deforestation. Plus, it absorbs up to 35% more carbon than similar plants.

Bamboo toilet paper is becoming more mainstream, too, meaning you can shop around to find the best deal.

Who Gives a Crap

You can find recycled and bamboo toilet paper from  Who Gives A Crap (An Australian company so you have to consider the environmental issues of transporting it to other countries) .
They give half their profits to: non-profit organisations working to improve access to hygiene, water and basic sanitation in developing countries.

Cheeky Panda

Chinese grown organic bamboo – the company uses carbon offsetting to offset emissions used in manufacture and transport from China to Felixstowe by sea.
Cheeky Panda’s statement on carbon offsetting says: To offset the carbon used in the production and transportation of our bamboo tissue produce we work with the World Land Trust to fund planting forest on Vietnam which completely offsets all emissions.

Sainsbury Recycled Toilet Paper

This is  UK produced @FSC certified which means: When you see the FSC logo on a label, you can buy forest products with confidence that you are helping to ensure our forests are alive for generations to come.

 Waitrose ECOlogical Toilet Paper

‘Made entirely from recycled paper. Our recycled toilet tissues start with recycled magazines, packaging and office waste. The wastepaper is sorted and only the best quality materials delivered to a UK mill. Next the paper is washed with water and printed ink; plastic and staples are removed. The cleaned paper pulp is pressed, hot air dried and rolled into ‘reels’. Excess water is re-used within the factory. Finally, the paper ‘logs’ are cut into individual toilet rolls, and packed ready for delivery to our stores.’

 Ecoleaf Recycled Toilet Paper

This is widely available online– the company makes recycled toilet roll with compostable packaging. We cannot find any indication that this is a UK company (let us know if you know more?) : Ecoleaf appears to be based in Dubai but their sellers say the product is manufactured in the UK.

‘In 1986 we launched the UK’s first 100% Recycled Paper Toilet Tissue, since then we’ve continued to develop the range.  All ecoleaf paper products are made from 100% recycled fibre sourced exclusively within the UK. Manufactured from 60%+ post-consumer waste supply streams, collected by local authorities, kerb side collections and bona fide waste merchants. The remaining waste fibre is made up from UK manufacturers’ waste such as printers’ trim and greeting card manufacturers’ waste. No chlorine-based chemistry is used in the production process. Sourced and then manufactured in the UK, every effort is made to maximise loads and minimise road miles. Bleach free.’


Some people are using reusable washable cloth wipes – an option that doesn’t’ generate too much enthusiasm – but it is an eco option.

Wet Wipes

Please don’t unless there are medical reasons. These are mainly created with plastic. When biodegradable – they are no less wasteful than toilet paper.

 So, what’s the best alternative to toilet paper?

So, while it is still not clear which alternative is likely to become the UK’s ‘go-to’ option, it seems likely that you are better using recycled or bamboo paper, rather than paper direct from virgin trees. Absolutely don’t buy toilet paper with the words FSC Mix on it – this means it comes from virgin trees.

And, if you’re re-designing your bathroom – perhaps consider installing a bidet or bidet attachment to your toilet.

Meanwhile the world is going mad to plant more trees – perhaps we should also put some energy into reflecting why and how we continue to waste this precious resource.




Save the Date SustFest2020

Sustainability Festival 2020

The Sustainability festival is unique as it is run by you – individuals and groups in the district encouraging each other to live with a lighter touch on the planet.

Welcome to the website for the Sustainability Festival 2020!

A working group for SustFest2020 has been meeting…plans prepared, fund-raising started… (as usual we have to fund-raise from scratch – so sponsors wanted!).. and events are now rolling in!

Volunteers from Sustainable St Albans charity and St Albans Friends of the Earth are already working hard to get the festival off the ground.

Dates will be: Saturday 23rd May to Sunday 7th June 2020

From residents’ associations running litter picks or local bike rides; pre-schools running events on reducing single-use plastic; schools holding eco-weeks on recycling; or businesses encouraging employees to use reusable water bottles. Why dont’t you organise something for the festival?

Bike repair

There will be art events, talks, walks, tours…

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Groups across the district are being asked to organise an event for the fifth Sustainability Festival in 2020 which will take place across two weeks from Saturday 23rd May to Sunday 7th June. Groups must register the event before 9th February.

For local businesses – from cafes to warehouses! For local community groups such as residents associations, women’s groups, wildlife groups, allotment groups and more. Includes all of our district’s faith groups – you can organise a walk -to -church day, or eco-mosque talk. Schools can be very creative; with school-based litter picks, or plastic recycling days, or creating art work on one of the environmental themes.

The festival is created by local groups; community; business; faith and schools (and other youth groups) in St Albans District, across St Albans, Harpenden, and villages such as Sandridge, London Colney, Redbourn and Wheathampstead.

Groups should organise an event that will take place during the festival weeks. The event must be about one of the ten themes of environmental sustainability – taken from Bioregional’s One Planet Living planet living themes whitepicFor more information about how to organise an event please look at the website


Ver Players donate £1500 to Sustainable St Albans

Did you see this wonderful news in the Herts Ad: the Ver Players donated £1500 to Sustainable St Albans from their annual charity concert! It is a huge donation that will make a significant impact on the work that we can do locally – we are so grateful to all the musicians – and their supporters – for thinking of us.

They held a really exciting concert for their annual fund-raiser – and its fantastic to see that local musicians can garner such support from around the district – great music and a brilliant atmosphere.

Sustainable St Albans is a charity, and we are run by volunteers – both the six people on the trustee group, and the committed volunteers who work all the year round to provide the Open Food Gardens, the Thermal Imaging Camera sessions, Our Planet, Our Future events, talks and films in the Harpenden area, and the exciting new Playing Out project – where streets can close the road for a day to allow residents to meet and chat, and children to play outside. And, of course the volunteers who make up the SustFest working group, and all the volunteers who help us with running events and stalls.

Fabulous news – Ver Valley chose to gift the proceeds from their charity night to Sustainable St Albans – first time ever that our environmental charity has been selected in this way by a local group – and we hope to do them, and you the local community, proud!


Lets get growing – in our local – Sopwell – community

‘Grow Community – Sopwell’ is a group of volunteers in Sopwell ward, St Albans who want to encourage and enable local residents  to grow their own food at home and in community spaces, to reduce food waste and to share surplus food in the community and with local charity groups. See the delicious Pumpkin soup recipe at the end!

They also aim to promote local wildlife conservation and restoration projects, connect ongoing initiatives and bring the community together through these activities.

In this week’s blog we talk to Kate Swindells, a Sopwell resident who has started this new local growing project – Grow Community – Sopwell – which is supported by Sustainable St Albans and the growing project FoodSmiles.

Why have you started Grow Community Sopwell?

Having set up an eco Facebook group for mums in St Albans (SAMs eco team)  I can see so many people wanting to do better with plastic-free and low carbon emissions living.

“Growing your own fruit and veg is a great step to being ‘greener’ and is pretty easy once you’ve got started.”

Knowing our local community pretty well and being into gardening myself, it made sense to start off a community growing group in the area where I live. Luckily for us a similar group  Foodsmiles have already set up the Incredible Edible community gardens in the city centre, and we are gaining advice and support from them about how to set it up!

Are there any local groups who want to get involved?

We’ve got the support of our local councillors, churches, and some of the local youth groups already. The local primary schools are also very happy to be supported in what they are already doing and we have strong links with the local allotment society. In the wider St Albans community, we have support from Sustainable St Albans and Foodsmiles which we’re really pleased about.

Do you grow food in your garden at home?

I love to grow food at home, it’s my escape! This year we’ve grown potatoes, loads of leafy vegetables, beans, peas, tomatoes, leeks and pumpkins, and we’ve just bought a miniature apple tree. A lot of the veg is grown in our old recycling boxes! They’re a good size, deep, and have drainage holes already.

Find out more about Grow Community – Sopwell

There will be refreshments, kid’s activities and a pumpkin soup demo as part of Hubbub’s #PumpkinRescue food waste campaign.