Avoiding Plastic Toilet Paper Waste

I’m not quite to the point where I’m even considering foregoing toilet paper (and I’m not sure I ever will be, honestly). I do know there are other options; I distinctly remember walking into a restroom in Thailand, seeing the small bucket inside a large bucket of water and no toilet paper, then promptly walking out to ask my husband’s cousin for instructions. I had been warned about squatter toilets at length — something that really isn’t daunting at all — but no one had thought to mention the completely foreign (to me) method of cleaning. I’ll fully admit here that I spent the rest of my month in Thailand with a healthy supply of tissue in my purse.

What I do want to avoid is the plastic toilet paper comes wrapped in. I thought it would be easy; I mean, when I was a kid, our toilet paper came wrapped in paper. But at Winco and Target, everything came in plastic. The best I could do was get the biggest package (which I already do). So I did some searching. The ones wrapped in paper were specialty types made of bamboo or sugarcane bagasse and, unfortunately, out of my price range (though I do like the idea). So I kept searching and then… I found bulk toilet paper for sale at Office Depot online. The same stuff I buy, but wrapped in paper and boxed in cardboard. There’s an Office Depot just a mile and a half from my house, so it looks like I’ll be going there the next time I need to resupply.

But here’s what I don’t understand: Why do offices get the plastic-free version, but regular folk get the plastic version? Is toilet paper so visually appealing that we have to see it through clear plastic to buy it?

And why do the cardboard-boxed versions have to be individually wrapped in paper? At least the wrapping is recyclable and won’t kill a bunch of sea animals, but it’s still wasteful to wrap every single roll in paper.

I know paper has its own problems. Using the bucket of water method probably saves more water than the production of the toilet paper and packaging it would replace, and the cardboard box of the paper-wrapped certainly weighs more than the plastic wrapping, and that definitely adds up in fuel for transportation. But I can’t justify using plastic wrapping for something that isn’t in any danger of spoilage or contamination.

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