What's the Best Bamboo Toilet Paper?
A Deep Dive into the Data
If you’re here, you probably already know about the deteriorating condition of our forests. You’re ready to do your part by making the switch to bamboo toilet paper (and paper towels too!) But as public awareness grows and more people show interest in eco-friendly alternatives, more and more companies have popped up to answer the demand.
In order to help you decide which bamboo paper products are right for you, we’ve created this guide to assess some of the leading brands.
We’re going to compare each bamboo toilet paper company in three different categories: Sustainability, Affordability, and Philanthropy.
Sustainability: Bamboo Toilet Paper Brands
As a consumer, it can be hard to know if a brand is truly eco-friendly or green-washing you. Luckily there’s a great resource for learning about the sustainable practices of toilet paper companies. The NRDC (Natural Resource Defense Council) provides an annual, third-party report on the eco-friendly practices of toilet paper companies across the country.
With the release of the 2021 report card, The Issue With Tissue, we have a ready-made comparison by a reputable source.
Here’s how the bamboo brands stack up:
Psst – 500 is the highest score a bamboo toilet paper can get. In order to achieve the top score (600), a company must use 100% recycled material. You can read more about recycled vs. bamboo in our blog.
Of course, while we trust the NRDC, it’s hard to know the real meaning behind the numbers on a scorecard. So let’s take a closer look at how the scores are calculated, and you can compare for yourself!
There are two main categories to look at: Bamboo sourcing & the bleaching process.
#1 Bamboo Sourcing
While bamboo is an excellent alternative to trees, not all bamboo farms are equal. Just like its tree-filled counterparts, bamboo forests can have drastically different environmental impacts. Though widely considered a more renewable (and therefore more sustainable) resource than trees, how it is sourced is still important. If a company clear-cuts a forest to make way for their bamboo farm, it sort of defeats the point.
To signal that they are cultivating and harvesting their materials sustainably, a bamboo company can now achieve FSC certification. The FSC – or Forest Stewardship Council – is a non-profit, third party organization that provides certifications to companies who source responsibly.
The NRDC report card awards the most points to brands with recycled content, then to FSC-certified bamboo, then to FSC-certified tree products.
No points are awarded to non-FSC products unless the company can show proof that their materials are sourced responsibly. Several of the bamboo toilet paper companies without FSC certification received points in this way.
Cloud Paper proudly makes all our toilet paper with FSC-certified bamboo.
#2 The Bleaching Process
Why bleach toilet paper in the first place? It turns out the bleaching process is part of what makes toilet paper soft to the touch, and increases its absorbency. However, not all bleaching processes are equal when it comes to eco-friendliness.
Chlorine bleach (or elemental chlorine) harms the environment and is dangerously carcinogenic. Most paper companies discontinued this practice years ago. However, with the reduction in chlorine bleaching came a new alternative: ECF.
Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) bleaching uses a chlorine compound called chlorine dioxide. And while it creates less environmental impact than its dangerous predecessor, the process still produces dioxin – the same toxic pollutant as elemental chlorine. The amounts of dioxin are greatly reduced, but experts agree that it is still likely harmful.
A better alternative is the Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) process. TCF uses only non-chlorine agents, such as oxygen and peroxide, completely eliminating dioxin pollutants. At Cloud Paper, we use the peroxide method when making our paper products.
The final alternative is Processed Chlorine Free (PCF), a designation which can only be given if the product includes recycled materials. Since bamboo toilet paper and paper towels are made with virgin grasses (yup, bamboo is a grass!), you won’t see the PCF label on any bamboo brands.
The NRDC awards the most points for PCF bleaching, then TCF bleaching. They give no points to companies using ECF bleaching.
We hope this gives you a peek behind the curtain and the confidence to assess the eco-friendliness of a brand. But we know sustainability isn’t the only thing to consider when purchasing a household product. You have to consider the cost, too.
Affordability: The Most Bam(boo) For Your Buck
At Cloud Paper, our mission is to change the world and end deforestation. But if we’re going to make sustainability the standard, it has to be affordable.
We’ve all had the experience of standing in the toilet paper aisle staring at price tags, getting dizzier and dizzier as you run the mental math to figure out which is actually the cheapest. Don’t worry, this time we did it for you. We broke down how many rolls in a package, how many sheets in a roll, and determined exactly how much you’re paying per sheet so you can make a fair comparison.
Here’s how the best bamboo toilet paper brands stack up:
Now if you’ve selected a brand that’s both affordable and eco-friendly, you can be pretty happy with your choice. But there is one additional category that we find equally important: Philanthropy.
Philanthropy: Doing Right by Our Planet and Its People
At Cloud Paper we believe that having a planet-positive product isn’t enough. We want to make a difference as a company and in our community. And although it can be a bit difficult to quantify, we’re going to give you the lowdown on what the various bamboo brands are doing to have an impact.
Cloud Paper: Cloud Paper partners with The CarbonFund to 2x offset all carbon emissions from transportation, all the way from bamboo forest to your doorstep. We also plant one tree for every customer review, and five trees for every customer referral, with One Tree Planted. Finally, Cloud Paper regularly partners with Food Lifeline to donate rolls to households in need (100,000 rolls and counting!).
Who Gives a Crap: Who Gives a Crap contributes 50% of its profits to help build toilets around the world for communities in need. Their program, WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) works with 9 different organizations to further their cause.
Reel Paper: For every purchase of Reel Paper, $0.50 goes toward SOIL, a nonprofit program in Haiti that provides toilets, but it doesn’t stop there. The program actually collects and treats the waste to transform it into compost.
Seedling by Grove: Seedling partners with the Arbor Day Foundation – a group that attempts to recover areas across the US that have been affected by deforestation. They plant one tree for every 100 rolls sold. Grove is also a CarbonNeutral company.
Tushy: A portion of Tushy profits go toward Samagra Sanitation, a nonprofit organization that provides neighborhood toilets to impoverished Indian communities. Unfortunately we were not able to find out how much of "a portion" of profits are being donated.
No.2: We were unable to find any information about No.2’s philanthropic initiatives.
Choosing the best bamboo toilet paper for you isn’t as simple as a scorecard. You have to factor in cost, location, shopping habits and lifestyle. How important is it that your brands are supporting their community, or donating to a good cause? Would you rather pick up toilet paper at the store, or have it delivered to your door?
These factors together determine which bamboo toilet paper is right for you. But we hope our comparisons have helped you make an informed decision.
The statistics on sustainability of bamboo paper brands comes from the 2021 Natural Resource Defense Council’s Issue With Tissue report. Comparisons on pricing and philanthropy were done in-house with publicly shared information.