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?

Bidet

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.

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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.’

Wipes

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.

 

 

 

Organise a Playing Out scheme or a street party now and bring sustainability to your street!

Street parties are fabulous aren’t they? Bunting, tables of people in the middle of the road, food and entertainment, laughter and music. As for Playing Out schemes, sessions might have less of a fanfare but, short and regular, they can be easier to organise and a sturdy foundation for the community on your road. They get children out in the fresh air and neighbours out onto the street to meet each other – while passing round a packet of custard creams.

With the Big Lunch in early June every year and the Great Get Together later in the same month, street parties are still a big thing and not just for royal occasions. More and more parties are being held simply so neighbours can enjoy each other’s company. This year there is even the big VE Day celebration which is a perfect excuse for a party. 

street party st albans

Meanwhile, Sustainable St Albans and St Albans District Council have now made it possible for residents to apply to close their road more regularly than just a one-off party – up to 8 times per year for the purposes of play and community building through the new Playing Out Scheme introduced this January.

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Free information sessions

Sustainable St Albans’ Playing Out project and volunteer group, Our Street Party, are organising a whole series of information sessions this March. Free to attend and no need to book, they are the perfect chance to find out all about how to organise a one-off street party or a regular Playing Out road closure scheme in your road. More details at the bottom of this article.

How do road closures bring sustainability to a street?

You might be wondering how street parties and Playing Out sessions are relevant to sustainability. Surely they are just about people sitting in the (fingers-crossed!) sunshine, enjoying a cup of tea or a barbecue? Yet it’s true – by organising a road closure on your street, you could actually be doing your bit for sustainability! One look at the Bioregional One Planet Living list of the ten areas of sustainability (below) and you start to realise that these types of community events tick an awful lot of boxes. 

Health & happiness as well as Culture & Community are the obvious ones. It’s not hard to see how pulling residents together on the street outside creates a community – one where cultures mingle, isolation is reduced and all the positives of a good neighbourhood can be strengthened. All those children running around in the fresh air has got to be healthy too!

Yet there are more. Getting to know your neighbours equates to becoming a part of the community. And doing that makes people care about where they live. People have more interest in Equity and local economy when they find out their neighbour runs a local business or charitable organisation. They resolve to shop locally when they hear another business is shutting on the high street. They organise a meal out in a local restaurant with new people they have met.

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And how about Local and Sustainable Food? We all love to talk about our gardens!  We can swap tips with neighbours about growing tomatoes, inspiring each other (or commiserating!). Encouraging one another to grow our own, hearing about local growing projects such as Food Smiles and Incredible Edibles, sharing our knowledge about local food sources – all this is natural conversation between neighbours on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

As for Land Use and Wildlife, there is so much to enjoy in your immediate neighbourhood. From discussions about sightings of garden birds, to plans for Hedgehog Highways (see Wilderhood Watch St Albans), it’s incredible what can come out of such community building events. Residents spend more time in their neighbourhood and see it in a different light – and suddenly there is a proposal to turn a patch of wasteland into a community orchard. 

Of course, Sustainable Transport has to be on the list. From an environmental point of view, children playing on the street immediately outside their house is better than driving to the park. Children learn to ride their bikes right outside their own front door. Before you know it, the parents get bikes and a whole family uses bikes instead of cars for local journeys. 

coleswood road harpenden 10-3-19

From neighbours organising a litter pick (Zero Waste) to sharing information about solar panels (Zero Carbon), there is just no arguing that community building is an important foundation for getting people to care about the environment in the first place.

Organise an event on your street this Summer!

So if you want to do your bit for sustainability but don’t know where to start, why not start with your own neighbours? Get them out onto the street to meet each other and build a community. Who knows what small changes in sustainability your street party might make to your neighbours’ lives – and the ripple effect those might have.

Find out more

To find out more about Playing Out, visit our Playing Out St Albans District webpage.

Watch our new video:

To find out more about Street Parties, visit www.ourstreetparty.org.

Free information sessions March 2020

2020 Twitter Playing Out Information Session copy

Street Parties*: Mon 2 March, 7.00pm The Beech House, St Albans.
Playing Out: Mon 2 March, 8.00pm The Beech House, St Albans.

Street Parties*: Friday 6 March, 10am. The Harpenden Arms, Harpenden.
Playing Out: Friday 6 March, 11am. The Harpenden Arms, Harpenden.

Playing Out: Mon 9 March, 10.30am at The Enchanted Tea Rooms, 71 High St, Redbourn, AL3 7LW.

Playing Out: Tuesday 10th March, 8pm in the St Stephen Suite (upstairs), St Stephen Parish Centre, Station Road, Bricket Wood, St Albans, AL2 3PJ.

Playing Out: Mon 16 March, 10.30am, at Caledon Community Centre, Caledon Road, London Colney, AL2 1PU.

*Street Parties information sessions are run by Our Street Party.

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One School’s Journey to Cutting Single-Use Plastic

Six year-old pupils on a school Eco Team complained to their teacher about the waste generated by the free school milk programme so their teacher, Andrea Bootle, decided it was time they took action.

Binning the cartons

“Every Friday, our bins were overflowing with little milk cartons”, says Andrea, Eco Teacher at Crabtree Infants’ in Harpenden. “Each child could get five of them a week. Each carton had its own straw. And with 180 children in the Infants’ school, even if only half of them had milk ordered for them, the maths was staggering. 90 children, 5 cartons a week, 39 weeks a year….17,550 little cartons and straws to landfill a year.”

The Department of Health in the UK states that every child under the age of five in the UK is entitled to a free 189ml serving of milk whilst in attendance at a registered day care provider for two or more hours a day.  For many children at Crabtree Infants’ School, as at other schools, parents continue to pay for milk after the free entitlement has ended and the children very much enjoy their break-time drink.

“The children loved getting their milk but the waste upset them”, continues Andrea. “We looked at options for recycling the cartons, but since many still contained liquid, we couldn’t see a sensible way to deal with the waste. Adding to that all the plastic that the blocks were shrink-wrapped in and the waste was extraordinary. The Eco Team really felt it was time to act. During the Sustainability Festival, the children pledged to make change happen.”

With the help of their teacher, the Eco Team wrote to the school’s designated milk provider who offered them an alternative – a supply of re-usable plastic beakers and large containers of milk delivered to the school instead of individual cartons.

crabtree school milk 3

“Obviously, we were nervous at first.” explains Andrea. “Particularly with the new Reception children – we had visions of floods of milk all over the carpet if they were given open beakers. And the washing up was also a bit of a concern. However, all the staff have been amazing and supported the Eco Team’s changes with no objections and the children have coped with it well.”

crabtree school milk 2

Georgia Frost, Reception Teacher, agrees: “The children in Reception enjoy socialising at the snack table. They have gained independence by pouring their own milk, whilst being eco-friendly. It allows them to take some responsibility for the whole world around them; something we encourage in all aspects of school life.”

Stopping the flow of single use water bottles

Soon beakers of milk became the norm for the school and the bins are no longer overflowing. But the children did not rest there.  The Eco Team came up with another type of single-use plastic they wanted to stop: single-use water bottles for school trips.

“The children already brought in their own water bottles every day”, says Andrea. “Yet on school trips the school-provided packed lunch came with one and sometimes two disposable bottles of water. When it all arrived for our Year 1 and 2 trip to Southend the children were horrified by the stack of 240 throwaway plastic bottles of water just for one day.”

Again, by raising the issue with their provider and changing their school policy for trips, the children were able to make a big impact. Children now simply take their own reusable water bottles on school trips just like they do on an ordinary day.

The children were so right to challenge what we do”, concludes Andrea. “Their determination has saved thousands of cartons and straws from ending up in landfill and hundreds of unnecessary single-use water bottles. I’m extremely proud of them.”


Check with your school milk provider and caterer about their policies and how you can work together to cut single-use plastic. Crabtree Infants’ School receive their milk from Cool Milk and uses Herts Catering for their school meals.

crabtree school milk 1

 

 

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…

View original post 240 more words

SustFest20

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 principles.one planet living themes whitepicFor more information about how to organise an event please look at the website www.sustfest.org