Is Toilet Paper Sustainable? Of Course Not.
Toilet paper is an environmental nightmare. No matter how you look at the numbers, toilet paper hurts carbon emissions, contributes to deforestation, wastes tens of thousands of gallons of water, and a surprising amount ends up in landfills around the world.
We’ll look at toilet paper’s impact on the environment and how using a bidet seat or attachment can reduce your toilet paper waste and carbon footprint.
Toilet Paper vs Bidet: How We Compare Them
So, how bad is toilet paper for the environment? It can be challenging to track carbon emissions from the forest to the grocery store shelf, but there is good data to work from.
When it comes to evaluating the environmental impact of toilet paper and bidets, we’ll focus on:
- Water use
- Carbon emissions
- Electrical use
How Much Water Is Used to Make Toilet Paper?
One of the most surprising battlegrounds in the fight between toilet papers vs bidets is water use.
While you might not touch the taps with toilet paper in your home, plenty of water goes into producing toilet paper. A single roll of toilet paper takes 37 gallons of water to produce. That’s more than 437 billion gallons of water to support Americans’ toilet paper habit.
At 1/8 of a gallon per use, a bidet uses less water than even the most efficient toilet flush. For context, a normal flush can use up to four gallons of water, though most toilets use closer to 1.6 gallons.
Toilet Paper Deforestation
In theory, toilet paper companies can use recycled wood pulp or leftover materials from lumber mills. Unfortunately, 98% of toilet paper is used from what is called ‘virgin pulp,’ or pulp that is created from whole trees. In the end, toilet paper production accounts for roughly 15% of current deforestation and consumes approximately 15 million trees each year. That’s wreaking havoc on some important ecosystems in different parts of the world, including in the United States.
And bidet seats and attachments? No wood. No trees. It’s that simple.
Toilet Paper Carbon Emissions
Toilet paper affects carbon emissions in two ways. First, deforestation removes large swathes of forests that actively remove carbon from the atmosphere. Deforestation alone contributes 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
It also expends a tremendous about of energy to use. All those sheets add up to a big toilet paper carbon footprint. The toilet paper habits of a family of four contribute the same amount of carbon as cutting down 27 trees.
In comparison, a single pound of plastic produces roughly three pounds of carbon dioxide. That means a Bio Bidet attachment contributes between three and six pounds of carbon.
Toilet Paper Lifespan
Toilet paper is made from trees that take 20-50 years to mature, driven hundreds of miles to a mill, then driven hundreds more miles to a paper factory, wrapped in plastic packaging (toilet paper packed in the paper is much better), delivered to stores all over the country, and put on shelves. It can take years for a tree to turn into a sheet of toilet paper, but it’s used for just a few seconds, just one time, then flushed. And that’s if it’s flushed. In places with less reliable plumbing, toilet paper can end up in landfills. Toilet paper makes up 15% of all the paper products in landfills.
On the other hand, a bidet seat or bidet attachment can last for years depending on the frequency of use, routine maintenance, and cleaning.
Toilet Paper vs Bidets: The Clear Winner
If your family is serious about reducing its carbon footprint, bringing home a bidet seat or bidet attachment is an excellent way to do your part. Reducing toilet paper use is a step in furthering your commitment to sustainability at home.