Toilet paper is something we all use, but most of us don’t know its impact on the environment. For example, did you know that an average American uses one hundred rolls of toilet paper in a year? That’s a lot of trees being cut down just to produce toilet paper!
So…is toilet paper biodegradable?
As the basic component of toilet paper is wood pulp, we can safely say that toilet paper is biodegradable. The issue, however, lies in the way that it is produced and disposed of.
What are the problems associated with standard toilet paper?
From the growing to the selling, paper manufacture is an energy-intensive, chemical-laden, and water-wasting process.
It has been estimated that standard toilet paper is made using virgin tress with a mix of 70% hardwood and 30% softwood. Unfortunately, this means that standing trees are cut down to make toilet paper!
Another issue is the sheer number and quantity of chemicals used to convert wood into pulp and then into paper. All these chemicals are not treated properly before being released into the ecosystem. Moreover, even after being manufactured into toilet paper, the chemicals linger in the paper. After disposal, they rot in our septic tanks and make their way into water treatment plants, through which they become part of the water stream again. The additives used in the standard paper also make it take quite a while to biodegrade.
Apart from chemicals, the amount of water utilized to make toilet paper is also not minuscule. For example, around 6 gallons of water are used to make one roll of toilet paper!
What is the difference between standard and biodegradable toilet paper?
There are now biodegradable toilet paper options available in the market. Biodegradable paper is made from more sustainable sources like sugarcane, bamboo, hemp, or kenaf. It is a bit more expensive than normal toilet paper butis way more sustainable.
Depending on the thickness of the tissue, how much water is available, and the weather conditions it is exposed to, the time taken for toilet paper to degrade varies. Normal toilet paper can take as little as one month to decompose in most cases. However, it could take between 1-3 years for it to decompose fully in some conditions. Biodegradable toilet paper breaks down 4 times faster than traditional toilet rolls!
Biodegradable toilet paper also requiresa lot less water to produce than traditional toilet rolls. It also does not clog your septic system as much as normal toilet paper does.
Why should you buy biodegradable toilet paper from here on?
Recycled paper is not soft enough to make toilet rolls. Hence, your best bet is investing in biodegradable toilet paper, even though it is slightly more expensive.
For those concerned about their septic system clogging as well, it is better to use biodegradable paper. Biodegradable toilet paper is not bulky and does not take up much space in septic tanks. They also break down quickly with very little water.
Thicker plies might be your first choice when you shop for toilet rolls, but the thicker the roll, the more difficult it is for it to degrade. So instead, we suggest buying 1-ply made with a single sheet for everyday use.
Additionally, most toilet paper comes wrapped in plastic. This can clog up waterways and litter landscapes for thousands of years. To remedy this, you can buy your toilet paper from trustworthy brands that use compostable or biodegradable packaging.