If you don’t know what today is, take a seat. Because there’s a good chance you didn’t realize August 26 is National Toilet Paper Day in the U.S. — a day to mark an essential invention we use every day but probably never gave much thought to. (At least until the pandemic laid store shelves bare, turned neighbors into tissue hoarders, and made us appreciate how much we can’t live without the stuff.)
Toilet paper dates back hundreds of years to China, which came up with it first. In 1391, the first recorded use of toilet paper appeared in a Chinese text called “The Dream Pool Essays.” The author, a philosopher and scientist named Shen Kuo, noted that his countrymen used paper “to preserve their dignity and cleanliness.” Today, toilet paper is manufactured all over the world. But it wasn’t until the late 19th century that it became widely available in the U.S. Before this, people would use various materials, including leaves, grass, shells, stones, and even sticks.
Yet, in recent years, toilet paper’s impact not just on our lives but the environment has also generated news — whether it’s deforestation, the use of inks and dyes in its production, or the plastic it comes packaged in. In response, manufacturers have had to adapt to evolving consumer demands for greener alternatives. Of course, choosing a more sustainable toilet paper is far from the only eco-conscious choice you can make in the bathroom, which is often home to unhealthy chemicals, cleaners, and fresheners. Here then are a few simple things you can do to make your bathroom a bit eco-friendlier.
Choose sustainably-sourced toilet paper
According to estimates, toilet paper manufacturing uses up to fifteen percent of the world’s trees. And the process of making toilet paper is hugely energy intensive, consuming large amounts of water and chlorine. As a result, choosing eco-friendly toilet paper is one way to help reduce our impact on the environment. While bamboo-sourced tissue is one such option, recycled toilet paper — rather than virgin paper — is another sustainable choice.
Avoid wet wipes
Are wet wipes really a good option for sustainably-minded people? Actually, in many cases they are not. Because while most wet wipes are marketed as “flushable,” they shouldn’t be flushed at all, because they don’t break down like toilet paper does. They are often made of synthetic materials that can clog toilets and cause expensive plumbing problems. In addition, wet wipes can damage septic systems and cause environmental problems when they end up in waterways.
So, what should you do with wet wipes? The best option is to throw them in the garbage after using them. That might not be as convenient as flushing them down the toilet, but it’s better for your plumbing and the environment. The best option is to either not use them or look for strictly environmentally friendly ones.
Low-flow toilets are a great option to save water — and therefore save money. These toilets use less water per flush, and they can save a significant amount of water over time. If you’re not ready to invest in a new toilet, there are still plenty of ways to save water. You can make a big difference by simply reducing the amount of water you use each time you flush. Try putting a brick or stone in the toilet tank to limit the amount of water used per flush.
It’s also important to remember that the average person uses about thirty-seven gallons of hot water each day. So, consider taking shorter showers and turning the water off while you're brushing your teeth. Making small changes like these can have a big impact on the environment.
Tackle the tub without chemicals
If you’ve ever scrubbed a bathtub, you know it’s not the most fun job in the world. But it’s important to keep your tub clean, both for hygiene and aesthetic reasons. While there are many chemical-based cleaners on the market, these can harm the environment. Fortunately, there are plenty of eco-friendly options for cleaning your tub. One popular method is to use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. This natural combination can break down soap and water deposits without damaging the finish on your tub.
Another option is to use a rubbing alcohol-based cleaner. This will disinfect your tub and leave it sparkling clean. And if you’re looking for a more natural (and old-fashioned) way to clean, you can always try using just hot water. Whichever method you choose, keeping your tub clean doesn’t have to be tough on the planet.
Freshen up naturally
We all want our bathrooms to smell fresh, but sometimes using synthetic air fresheners can do more harm than good. Luckily, there are simple and natural ways to keep your bathroom smelling clean and refreshed. One option is to simmer a pot of water on the stove with a few slices of lemon, orange, or grapefruit and then put the still-warm water bowl in the bathroom. The citrus will help neutralize any odors, and the steam will help freshen the air.
Another option is to put a few drops of essential oil on a cotton ball and place it in a small bowl near the sink. Some good choices for bathroom odor-fighting include eucalyptus, tea tree, and lavender. Finally, make sure to open the window and let some fresh air in every day. Ventilation will go a long way towards keeping your bathroom smelling fresh.
Ditch the traditional liquid detergent to clean your towels
SaltyLama's eco-friendly detergent strips are the perfect way to keep your bathroom towels clean. Hypoallergenic and free of harsh chemicals, they’re the ideal alternative for consumers looking to detox their cleaning chores. And because they’re both cruelty-free and biodegradable, you can use them without worrying about what harm you are causing the planet. Sample some now — you don’t have to wait in a line at the store to buy them — and make the switch.