A pair of girls legs in pyjamas, covered in a pile of colourfully wrapped toilet paper
52 Acts, Eco-Friendly Alternatives

4. Eco-friendly Toilet Paper

I think that one of the best ways to make positive moves for the environment is not to always look for huge changes or grand gestures, but to examine your most everyday items and actions and the impact they can have. Whether it’s in terms of packaging, carbon footprint or materials used, it is always helpful to think about what we do or  have, and how we can improve on it.

Most people can’t organise a mass litter-pick or plant a tree every day but we can all make smarter choices when it comes to buying things.

A lot of people will say that we cannot consume our way to a better environment and I agree. However I also believe that there is wisdom and power in voting with your feet.

There are certain things that we all have to buy: food, clothes, toiletries and so on. If it’s something you ultimately need to purchase and consume, then making the most ethical decision truly does make a difference! You support environmentally-conscious businesses whilst walking your money right away from the ones that would do harm. Being zero waste isn’t about acquiring the right ‘kit’, but about making better choices the more you learn and as opportunities present themselves.

So, having used up my festive Tesco loo roll with gold reindeer printed on it (it was on offer – don’t ask) I decided it was time to examine where my toilet paper could be doing more and think I found a good replacement with Who Gives a Crap.

A box filled with toilet paper wrapped in colourful paper by Who Gives a Crap.

I ordered a great big bulk box of 48, as well as 12 boxes of forest-friendly tissues to boot. I’m sure most of us already know the good points about buying in bulk and the fact that I bought what probably amounts to half a year’s supply did alleviate some of the guilt I felt about having it delivered by courier; as opposed to picking it up on my weekly shop. As these rolls aren’t available in shops however, this is currently the only buying option.

So what made me choose them? I’ll cut it down to three main points.

  • Packaging – The rolls are minimally packaged and entirely plastic free. They come wrapped in colourful, recyclable paper to prevent any water damage or other problems that could strike during transit. From my research, most if not all other eco-friendly brands in the UK still wrap their goods in non-recyclable plastic film. The outer box did have those long, plastic ties wrapped around to secure it but I still feel the packaging overall was kept to a minimum and was almost all recyclable.
  • Source – The rolls themselves are crafted from either recycled paper or bamboo, making them sustainable and forest friendly.
  • Ethics – Aside from the recycled rolls and minimal packaging, the company also donates 50% of their profits to improve sanitation and build toilets in the developing world – where diarrhoea can still be a death sentence for some. They are partnered with WaterAid, a wonderful organisation who provide safe drinking water, hand-washing facilities and better sanitation as well.*

Supporting worthy causes with something I would buy anyway? Yes please!

My first order arrived the other day (to my parents’ house which caused some serious confusion, especially with the company name printed on the side of the box) and I can testify that the loo roll itself is fantastically soft and good quality. Some recycled rolls I have used in the past have had a definite ‘papery’ feel to them, but Who Gives a Crap rolls are as good as the website (and several other bloggers) have said.

A large pryamid of colourful, Who Gives a Crap toilet paper

They are advertised on the site as double-length so I can see them lasting a long time, especially with how many I purchased and the price point is only a little higher than a regular supermarket brand (at 18.8p per 100 sheets to 15.0p). Factoring in the fact that 50% of that money will go to a charitable cause and the toilet paper itself is free from any harmful dyes, chemicals and is forest friendly, I think that additional 3.8p is well worth spending!

Also, you can have a lot of fun stacking and messing about with rolls when they arrive, which of course I did! I’m very happy with my purchase, the speed of the shipping (easily arrived within a week) and the company as a whole. I’m very happy to finally be supporting them!

A Sailor Moon pop figure posed on a mountain of toilet paper

Thanks again for reading, guys! If anybody has any other ideas for everyday ethical swaps, I’d love to hear them. I’ll be in Dublin for the week, so may not have another ’52 Acts’ post, but my friend and I are planning to visit some great Vegan restaurants in the area so maybe we’ll have a post about that instead – we shall see!

~ Lois

*Depending on when you are reading this, if you make a donation to WaterAid before the 31st January 2018 and are a UK National, the government have pledged to match what they raise before that time up to £5 million! I’ve done it – and would love it if you would too!

52 Acts, Eco-Friendly Alternatives

1. Christmas Gift Wrapping

Hello everyone, and welcome to 52 Acts of Environmentalism!

I know the festive period is more or less over but I thought I’d do my first post about my Christmas wrapping routine, as it’s one of the main things I switched up this year to be more eco-friendly.

Standard wrapping paper is probably one of the biggest missed opportunities that I can think of. Unless otherwise stated, the majority of it is plastic-coated, plastic-based or has added embellishments such as foil or glitter which means it cannot be recycled.  Since it’s meant to be ultimately disposable and it’s only real function is to cover gifts, I don’t see the logic in using materials that are going to hang about in landfill for years upon years.

Although I like the idea of wrapping paper, if there were an alien species that landed on earth around Christmas time, (which sounds like a plausible Doctor Who special) how would we explain it? No big deal – we just take a couple of hours each year concealing what we’ve bought, to place it under a tree for a while before Cadbury-selection-box addled children tear into it like angry seagulls.

It’s a crazy tradition, but I really do like it! I like it less however when I think how much unsustainable wrapping paper is being used every year – and that the paper from last year is probably still sat in a landfill somewhere, not biodegrading.

Supposedly, each year we jovial Brits will throw away 227,000 miles of wrapping paper. Consider for a moment that the distance between Land’s End and John O’Groats (the two extreme points of Mainland Britain) is 874 miles. We could arguably paper the road between them almost 260 times.

I know that in my household, my family will normally produce about two bin-bags worth of crumpled up, used wrapping paper. Times that by every household in Britain and you can see we have a real problem on our hands. Here is how I tried to make a small difference:

My Recyclable Gift Wrapping Routine

Here is a list of the swaps I made that meant that the gift I gave could be unwrapped and the used paper, tape, decorations and tags could go straight into our blue bin!

  • Brown Paper – Remember how Julie Andrews bigged up brown paper packages in The Sound of Music? Well now, it’s my go-to for gift wrapping! Brown paper is available from any office supply shop or post office and is much cheaper than your typical flamboyant Christmas wrapping paper. I got an enormous industrial roll which should last me a few years at least for a little over a tenner. Not only is it recyclable, but it can be composted too and gives your presents a stylish, minimalist look – especially when paired with some simple red and white string!

A candle on brown wrapping paper with scissors and washi tape rolls around.

  • Washi Tape – As pictured above, you can get several varieties of festive washi tape around Christmas and as it is paper-based, it’s recyclable too! No more picking sellotape off your paper before you can recycle it. But watch out when you’re getting it off the roll – it can tear fairly easily!

An origami bow placed on a brown paper-wrapped present with washi tape ribbon

  • Embellishments – Brown paper is great but on it’s own, is not necessarily the most Christmassy!  Paper gift tags and rough hewn string are again, fully biodegradable and can be composted if you have a bin. This was an easy one but in terms of package decorations, the market is saturated with nasty plastic ribbons of all shapes and sizes. I had a think and busted out my old-school origami skills to make some handmade paper bows!

Group of people having made a selection of festive origami bows

They look a little daunting but are fairly easy to master. I even taught my whole family to do it (with varying degrees of success) which made for a great Christmas Eve activity. And who knows, maybe even a new tradition?

Other Alternatives to Standard Wrapping Paper

  • Reusable Gift Bags – Whether cloth or sturdy paper, you can continue using these for years and they are not dissimilar to traditional holiday items like Christmas stockings. Perhaps there is less unwrapping involved but you can pair it with brown paper wrapping or even newspapers which would have gone in the recycling anyway.
  • Cloth wraps / scarves – Some shops such as Lush have introduced these for wrapping up soap and other gift items. You can wrap up gifts quite neatly with reusable scarves or bolts of soft fabric which can then be kept and used next year. They also take up less space than the three unravelling rolls of wrapping paper that you’ll cram under the stairs!

Whatever you choose to do next year, I hope we can all spare a thought for unnecessary waste and what we can do to cut it down. A lot of these are very simple swaps, after all!

It seems pretty daft to wish you a Merry Christmas for just under eleven months time, so instead I will wish you all a happy new year and a splendid 2018!

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about me or about this blog, feel free to check out my About page!

(Featured Image Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash)