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Zero Waste Toilet Paper

Zero Waste Toilet Paper

Zero Waste Bathroom

Last Updated on May 7, 2021

The two most popular questions I get asked are, “What do you do about toilet paper?” and “How do you handle your period?”

I have talked about periods extensively. Make sure to check out my post how to have a zero waste period.

zero waste toilet paper and toilet paper alternatives from www.goingzerowaste.com #zerowaste #gogreen #toiletpaper #ecofriendly

Did you know it takes 37 gallons of water to make one roll of toilet paper!? Beyond the water, think of all the trees it takes. 

Americans use 8 million tons of toilet paper a year. If every US house used just one roll of 100% post consumer recycled TP a year, it would save 423,900 trees. 

Surprisingly, there are a lot of options when it comes to toilet paper. I don’t think that there’s one right answer here, but finding what works the best for you. 

family cloth: 

Family cloth is a horrible name. It seems like the whole family uses the same cloth. *EW*

But, really it’s just a whole bunch of fabric swatches* used to wipe. After they’ve been used, they’re thrown into a wet bag* and washed with the laundry. 

This is out of my comfort zone. I know a lot of people make this transition after cloth diapering because it’s the same principle, but I’m just not there. 

I personally can’t get past the ick factor. We don’t have a washer and dryer, and the idea of having soiled rags around for a while gives me the heebie jeebies. 

If you use this method, let me know about it in the comments. Did you get started because of cloth diapering?

RELATED: My Top 5 Zero Waste Shower Essentials

bidet attachment: 

I have said it time and time again, I LOVE my bidet attachment. We just moved and left our OG Brondell* with the house. It was our moving gift to the new peeps. We’re changing the world one bidet at a time.

I just got a Tushy bidet* for the new place, and I’m really excited to try it out. 

Bidet attachments are great because they reduce toilet paper usage so much! They’re also SO much cleaner. We reduced our toilet paper usage by 60%! 

I can’t imagine using family cloth without having a bidet attachment, but even with a bidet attachment, it doesn’t always get everything. I’d say it gets about 90% though. 

For more information on bidet attachments check out this post

RELATED: Magic Scrub to Clean Your Toilet, Sink, and Tub

recycled: 

When buying toilet paper look for toilet paper that contains recycled content. 100% and unbleached is the best thing to look for! 

If you can only find recycled paper in plastic film (plastic #4), recycle the film with the plastic grocery bag (plastic #4) recycling. You can typically find this type of recycling at front of grocery stores. You can also check out this website to find the closest film recycling to you.  

Another option is to buy this type of paper by the case. When you buy a case, it often comes loose in a cardboard box and each roll is individually wrapped in paper. Look at your local office supply store. Here are a couple of the brands, I’ve found to offer this. 

RELATED: 15 Simple Swaps for a Zero Waste Bathroom

tree free: 

Tree free is a great way to go a little more eco-friendly in the bathroom. I find tree-free paper to be softer than recycled content and stronger even though the ply is the same. 

If you live in a small house like I do, there are a lot of little companies popping up that sell smaller quantities wrapped in paper and come loose in a cardboard box like Tushy and Who Gives a Crap.   

other ideas: 

I’ve heard some people have hand held squirt guns* attached to their toilets which work similarly to a bidet attachment. Other people use just regular squirt bottles*, but I’m not entirely sure how that works? 


Have you used family cloth or a bidet attachment? What’s your favorite way eco-friendly way to get down to business? 

This post contains affiliate linking. It’s denoted with an asterisk. This means if you choose to purchase one of these items I will make a slight commission for referring you. You can read more on my disclosure page

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  1. I’m with you on the ick factor; do you have to do anything else to make sure your washer is completely hygienic after washing soiled cloth? I’ve no idea.
    I like the idea of a bidet attachment because where I live in England it is really hard to find toilet paper that comes in paper; most of it comes wrapped in non-recyclable plastic, so I’m definitely warming to the idea of a bidet attachment.

    1. You wash your underwear in the washing machine, right? "Family cloth", especially if only used for pee, is no more contaminated than undies! We don’t sterilize our washing machines after washing underwear or diapers, and we don’t need to when washing "family cloth" either 🙂 Especially if you throw it in with towels on a hot load and add soap (it’s what soap is for)!

  2. I bulk buy envision toliet paper through Amazon. It uses 25% post consumer recycled fiber and comes in a box. It’s all wrapped in tissue paper so I can either compost or recycle all packaging. One box will last my boyfriend and me like a year. I’ve talked about a bidet but my boyfriend is convinced he’ll never use it. I may just get one and see what happens ?

  3. I use "family cloth"! I live on my own right now, and have a stack of 16 flannel diaper wipes (bought off Etsy) and a wetbag hanging off of my toilet paper holder. I only use it when I pee as it’s fairly new to me still and I’m getting used to it, but it feels SO clean and soft. I just throw them in the wash with the rest of my clothes. No smell, no fuss, it’s super easy, and probably reduces my (home) toilet paper usage by 10-15% with the minimal amount that I use it. I think I’ll get more comfortable over time and use it more (or be more on top of washing it) but for now, it’s wonderful! I started as part of my commitment to moving towards minimalism and zero waste. Pro tip: get fabric patterns you like. It makes them more fun to use! Also wash flannel before using as it’s not absorbent until it’s been washed…

    1. I did not know that about flannel. I don’t think I’d have an issue with peeing and family cloth + a bidet. But, for pooping and periods, I just don’t think I’m ready. Lol.

  4. I just "upgraded" to a bidet on my toilet and I swear I can’t say enough good things about the change! I’ve informed my family and close friends and even bought two as xmas gifts this year! I have had it only a month now and still have the same amount of TP as when it arrived (save for a little bit). I cut up an old bath towel and use those. I toss them in with my laundry perhaps with some bleach. They get about as dirty as a bath towel.

  5. I’ve always loved the idea of the bidet but am terrified that it’d take forever to dry. I also am thinking of getting a camper to live in, so I’d be worried about it filling up the blackwater tank very fast, causing me to need to haul the camper to a dump station more frequently(adding up to more gas, money, and time).

  6. I also use cloths only when I pee, and wash them in a hot wash with towels. I just cut up a couple of old tee shirts as they don’t fray or need hemming. An unexpected benefit for me is the reduction in itchiness. I only realized the problem was caused by toilet paper when I was away for a week.

  7. I got a bidet toilet seat, and it’s the best thing EVER. If you wish to use them, it comes equipped with a warm water tank at the back of the seat, as well as a heated seat. (I only use them during the winter.) Mine also has a forced air dryer, eliminating the need for any paper at all. All you have to do is sit still for a moment. And all parts (other than the seat) are self cleaning! My husband loves it as well, by the way.
    Seriously, once you use a bidet for a couple of days, you will never want to be without one again!

  8. This video is funny, eye-opening and helped us ditch TP all together. (apologies if it makes you squeamish!)
    https://youtu.be/dKkryfdtMNQ

    We never buy it anymore. Or toddler wipes or anything. Just keep a spouted, large size, measuring cup from Ikea by the toilet – a sturdy one that looks like this: https://www.amazon.com/Norpro-4-Cup-Plastic-Measuring-Cup/dp/B000HJBFFS

    We prefer it to bidets, but bidets are a nice luxury too. We live with our 3y/o (potty training – needs help with clean up) in Washington, State. Saves us quite a bit of money and chucking empty tp rolls out and hauling huge tp packages home from Costco..

    Still a long way to to go become zero waste but it’s my goal. Really appreciate all the tips!

  9. I agree, the family cloth is outside my comfort zone, but still want to "green" the bathroom. This week I tried a 100% recycled bathroom paper and it’s not bad! The wrapper is #4 plastic, so I will recycle it and I also sent a message to the manufacturer asking them to consider switching to backyard compostable paper packaging. Thanks for bringing up the topic and for offering other great, eco-friendly options! DarleneGoesGreen.com

  10. Not that this is a show stopper or anything but, did you keep track of how adding a bidet changed your water usage?

  11. I use family cloth with a bidet almost all the time now and love it! I don’t have kids so I did not get into it because of diapering. I do use a menstrual cup and cloth pads though so I think that made it not so weird. I wouldn’t consider using family cloth without the bidet though, not for number 2 anyway. I definitely get where it would be harder without a washer and dryer though.

  12. I guess we use "family cloth", but we’ve never thought about it that way. We have rags set aside for drying off after using the bidet. Once you learn how to use it, all that is left is the water. When we were learning how to use it at first, we would use a couple squares of toilet paper to "check" that everything was clean. But after a while you get really used to how to clean yourself with it and all you need is something to dry with. It’s no different at that point than drying off with a towel after a shower. It is especially awesome on my period – if you angle yourself the right way you can get your lady bits all clean and fresh as well. Soooo much nicer than toilet paper, and so much more effective.

  13. I live in Italy ( well, I’m Italian !) And I’m trying my best to become a 0 waster. In Italy is not so easy to reduce waste, at least plastic wise. A lot of ( great ) rules about food safety makes it very hard to just pop in a grocery store or butcher shop with your own container…..
    But the bidet is part of our culture. When we DON’T find one we consider this very weird…matter of facts Italians don’t understand how other populations can survive without !!! We use it on a daily basis to wash and rinse after every number 1 and 2, every time there’s a trip to the bathroom to change the pads, before and after a love moment with our partner, to wash our feet before bedtime. Yes, Italian mom’s teach every kid to wash intimates and feet before bed to have a relaxing night and don’t bring any germs in bed.
    With 5 people in my family It doesn’t even pop in my mind the idea of using a rag. But I do buy only recycled paper. The wrap is made with 100% biodegradable ingredients and can be disposed in the wet waste or flushed down the toilet. For my opinion Yes, it takes gallons of water to make a roll of toilet paper but all we need to clean us up is just a little bit, not a handful. A couple of squares can go down the toilet while the rest can be cleaned on the bidet. And if you jump into a large bucket while you take a shower you can save the water that can be used to flush the water or mopping the floor.
    Thanks to all for the beautiful tips ! I love this blog

  14. Definitely started using "family cloth"after cloth nappies (diapers) and reusable wipes. You asked. It is some work after washing them, hanging every cloth. I guess that’s when dryers come in handy, but in the UK, dryers are not very popular. But when married to the right person, it’s a chore that can become rather fun, we have always started really funny conversations when hanging our cloth everything. (wipes, hankies, rags, etc).

  15. I have a halfway solution. Washing after number 1, using toilet paper after number 2. I don’t have a bidet attachment but use a 2l water bottle to rinse. I have to fill the bottle every so often, bit don’t mind that little effort. To me drying my lady parts with a family cloth afterwards is the same as using a towel after a shower.

  16. I use recycled toilet paper that is unfortunately packaged in plastic. I emailed the company and to comply with Australia standard hygiene laws they had to seal the toilet paper and didn’t think using paper on every roll would be eco-friendly. I thought about Who Gives a Crap, but considering it is shipped from China and the brand I use is made in Australia, I hope the less travel time weighs out the plastic. I recycle the plastic wrap with Redcycle anyway.
    However, this post has almost convinced me to give a bidet a try! I LOVE the idea of being about to properly wash up after sex or while on my period. Then I would only use a bit of cloth to dry provided I felt I cleaned myself enough. I’ve been using cloth pads recently and loving them.

  17. The "squirt bottle" method reminds me a lot of a Peri Bottle that many woman use during postpartum. I have one from Frida Baby that is angled ("Frida Mom Upside Down Peri Bottle"), which makes a huge difference compared to the regular squirt bottle that the hospital gave me (after birth). I hadn’t thought about continuing to use this bottle as a makeshift bidet, but might have to try it. My only concern is about keeping it sanitary in between uses.

  18. I have the public using our toilets and want to try to cut down usage. Do you know which type of toilet paper people use less of – rolls, 1 ply, sheets ?

  19. Thanks for sharing such informative article regarding the idea of not using toilet paper to have zero waste toilet paper.

  20. I saw a product called Bagez, a garbage bag holder for garbage cans or rubbish bins as our buddies from the UK call them.
    From what i see, it takes away the hassle of washing out bins, because now any bag can be used in the bin, no matter the size..
    i’m going to try it before i start getting into by bin, to do some scrubbing.
    Do you have any idea about it?