Toilet Paper (from trees) is back in the Headlines. ‘Is Wiping our Bottoms Wiping out Forests?’

Back’side’ to the Future | Trees or Bamboo?

Toilet Paper: It’s not (as the panic buying highlighted) about shortage. It’s about sustainability.

When you wipe your bottom you may be unintentionally wiping out forests. In last week’s post we wrote about supporting renewable energy that protects our world. The focus was on Biogas as a sustainable energy source, using cattle poop mixed with food waste as the basis of our article. However, fortunately cows don’t use toilet paper/tissue as do such an increasing percentage of the human race. The reason we mention it is the world’s biggest manufacturers use a lot of trees and a lot of water to make toilet tissue. We’ve all been made aware of, and many countries are beginning to react about, the destructive use of plastics which are proven to be damaging to both land and sea. But, why would we necessarily think that toilet tissue, ‘That flush-away daily cleanser we simply pop in the toilet and it disappears,‘ would be anything for us to be remotely concerned about?

Meanwhile, the Amazon burns and Forests are being cut down at an Alarming Rate. The really important issue here (rather than the recent occurrence of toilet paper panic buying) as WHO recently pointed out, is ‘The world has lost 178 million hectares of forest since 1990.’ That’s seven times the area of the UK! With that staggering statistic in mind – add to that how much devastation can be historically, and presently, aligned to cutting down trees for toilet paper production (let alone the amount of water and chemicals used in the process.) We can clearly see that we have reached a crisis point in regards to the impact on our forests, the amazon and our planet. This leads us onto the introduction (if you’d not heard of them already) to an organisation that is kicking up about the use of trees for TP [toilet paper] and we wanted to give that some publicity and their findings an airing…

Trees or Bamboo… and gallons of water too! In this brief article we have no intention of sending you to sleep with reams of information, facts and figures, but we wanted to flag up a few things that may be of interest, or an influence on your choice of which toilet tissue and certain other products to use [e.g. kitchen towel, face tissues, and even wet wipes.] As a comparison, let’s take a quick look at the key ‘need to knows‘ regarding toilet paper/tissue and the advantages of bamboo for sustainability and similarly the environment. We’re focussing on ‘Bamboo vs Trees.’ But in regard to their importance on earth – Trees are essential for our planet and exactly why they have to be saved and protected, not used for toilet paper. Trees are vital, as the biggest plants on the planet they give us oxygen, store carbon, stabilise the soil and give life to the world’s wildlife.

‘Bamboo instead of Trees for Balanced Sustainability. The Benefits.’ Bamboo is a very fast growing, renewable and an easy-to-grow resource. It is an extremely versatile material with countless uses, including; construction, clothes, food and fuel. Bamboo shoots are used in Asian food preparations and in Japan, the antioxidant properties of bamboo skin can prevent bacterial growth and are used as natural food preservatives. Bamboo is well-known for being a Panda’s favourite meal. No fertiliser, pesticides, or herbicides are needed for them to grow, as unlike most crops bamboo requires no agricultural chemicals to thrive. Bamboo absorbs carbon dioxide and releases 35% more oxygen into the atmosphere, more than a similar community of trees. The list is endless and the more we learn about bamboo it’s obvious as to why, ‘it’s a true miracle of nature.

The Natural Resources Defense Council [NRDC] are moving and shaking regarding TP from trees, as it’s not on most peoples radar or list of priorities, but ought to be. A number of you in the know may be following Shelley Vinyard from the NRDC, a campaign expert who has written many articles on the subject of boreal forests. Shelley provides a clear and well-researched view. For further reading, and to expand on the focal points we’ve made above, here are a few sources of useful information from NRDC to check out: ‘All Your Questions About Toilet Paper Answered‘ from June 24 2020, ‘The Issue with Tissue.’ Another useful resource is Mongabay who frequently comment on deforestation with their, ‘News and Inspiration from Nature’s Frontline.’

Is Bamboo the New You? or ‘What’s the most climate-friendly tissue paper for you and our planet.’ By way of an introduction. To find out about the hottest new influencers in the world of bamboo toilet tissue and our more eco-friendly household products + where you can buy them – here’s a list of links to just a few of the many game-changers (in no particular order) to get you started. Each offering alternates to TP from Trees [availability of brand may depend on your location]:

The Cheeky PandaWho Gives a CrapBumbooCabooNo. 2ReelTushyBim Bam BooPurePlanetClubSilknSoft

We’ll leave you with a few last thoughts to ensure we protect this precious asset. ‘How can we harvest bamboo in sustainable ways to save the bamboo eco-system, to plan not only a scientific but also a holistic approach to bamboo cultivation? Also, the impact of industry on the biodiversity, local peoples lives and those animals for whom it’s their home? These questions are crucial if we are to build a sustainable future and long-term access to Bamboo, an important resource but that, in harvesting it, we don’t destroy it as a habitat, or ignore its value as continuing climate change reboots the natural order.‘ This is a subject we’re going to return to, if you have any comments or want to tell us about your experience with bamboo and or sustainable toilet paper please get in touch. We’ll be back next week…

Comment on our article 24th April 2020, from marine biologist Professor Richard Thompson OBE

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote a post about the 3Ps in ‘Turn your toilet paper into a wet wipe + other news & views on loos & no. 2s‘ and potential ways to help the environment by not putting anything other than Poop, Pee and Paper (toilet paper) in the loo… We asked one of the world’s leading experts, Professor Richard Thompson, for his opinion and he kindly responded having said ‘the article made good sense.’ His comments can be seen below:

“The bottom line is we all need to work toward consuming less stuff. It is especially important to  minimise any single use items where the benefit is very transitory  –  but the persistence as waste is long-lived. That’s the issue with wipes. The move toward a fine to flush logo might make sense. However, its potentially confusing for consumers if some wipes are OK to flush and others not. Perhaps the simplest message is  the 3Ps –  only flush pee, poo and paper. The idea of a spray to modify conventional paper is an interesting one and  may have merit.  I hope the containers are fully compatible with  a circular economy.

To me the key thing in all of this is the need for  product designers to fully consider end of life scenarios for their products right from the design stage; and where necessary have necessary testing done  to evaluate those outcomes before a product goes to market. Many of the current challenges relating to plastics could be avoided with  a little more thought at the design stage.Professor Richard Thompson OBE FRS

Professor Thompson is Director of the Marine Institute School of Biological and Marine Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering) and leads the International Marine Litter Research Unit. Professor Thompson coined the termmicroplasticsin 2004. With thanks for his remarks and advice.

Listen to this fascinating and enlightening podcast with Professor Thompson on BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Life Scientific [listen now or download.] ‘How did you first get interested in the problem of plastic pollution in the sea?’ Richard Thompson tells Jim Al-Khalili how he alerted the world to the micro-plastics in the ocean and the harm they might cause to marine life.

When the rest of the world was waking up to the harm caused to marine life by larger plastic items, such as plastic bags, Professor Richard Thompson searched for tiny fragments of plastic, some no bigger than a human hair; and found them in oceans and on beaches all over the world. He has spent decades studying the harm these micro-plastics might cause to marine life and is concerned. His work on plastics in cosmetics led to a UK ban on micro-beads in shower gels and exfoliating scrubs.

Latest headline ‘Stick to the 3Ps when flushing’…Bidets, and other considerations from ‘The Daily Poo!’ on loos & no. 2s.

The incredible NEOREST® NX2 Dual Flush Toilet from TotoUSA [copyright TotoUSA] see article below

The 3Ps and ‘Proof before Panic!’

If you’ve not read this anywhere or, understandably perhaps not realised… ‘The use of tissues, wipes and kitchen roll is ‘clogging up the sewers!‘ Tissues, wipes and paper towels all contain plastic in their weave making them much stronger than toilet paper and therefore harder to break down in sewerage pipes. It’s only the 3Ps that should be flushed: pee, poop and paper [toilet paper] 4Ps if we include the word, ‘Please!’ We mentioned it last week but want to repeat the message. It’s an issue, even in ‘normal times.’ Plumbers who may be getting lots of work sorting out peoples pipes because of it, are getting fed up too, and so are the oceans and sea-life that suffer! The other please is, ‘Those of you who are still panicking about toilet paper… please stop it at once!’ We mentioned one calculator last week, here’s another that helps you see just how much toilet paper you need and use: https://thepooptool.com

There are more pressing issues to be dealt with, so put down those unnecessary packets of toilet paper…. and step away from the shelves – please! That said, your staying calm would really help the supply chain and logistics companies, and their amazing people, to keep doing their good work during these times, i.e. keep you supplied! Thank you to them and everyone else who is working on our behalf to get us safely through the days ahead, we love all he clapping for them that’s been going on worldwide.

Here’s the tail (tale) that could soon wag the dog, the dog being the toilet paper manufacturers and the tail being bidets.

Some while back we wrote about the option to use a ‘bidet’, bum-gun or an ‘attachable shower wash’ instead of the total wipe option. What started in France was the bidet, [Bidet: Mid 17th century (in the sense of straddling a ‘pony’) from the French bider ‘to trot’, of unknown origin.] A separate low basin for sitting and washing your bum. In fact other regions had been using small vessels of water called lotas or tabo for cleansing centuries before bidets appeared on the scene. Interestingly, (for those reeling in disgust or disbelief) it’s a very popular method across Europe, in the Arab world, and in Japan where their toilet technology is extraordinary. With bidets in approx. 80% of Japan’s homes that’s barely surprising.

Is this just a ‘flush in the pan?’

However, since Covid-19 and the toilet paper purchasing stampede/panic, bidets have begun a resurgence as ‘traditional wipers’ consider all the options and in doing so begin to see the benefits of owning one. Importantly, the design developments have meant you don’t need a separate ‘basin’ either, just an attachment to your current toilet system. Though we should point out that you can get an ‘all singing and dancing toilet’ in the first place, in other words a toilet/bidet and all sorts of other luxuries built in. Think; wash, dry, music, gadgets and even medical body checks all included. To get you started, look at Business Insider‘s ‘Best Bidet Toilet Seats‘ and then look at what’s hot in Japan…

‘The winds of change are blowing!’ [pun intended :)] But, seriously this has become a real disruptor and nothing indicates that more that the uptake by Americans, as the USA is the world’s largest consumer of toilet paper [36 billion rolls a year according to Statista.] Yep, stop and take that in for a moment… think trees, carbon footprint, water usage (it takes a huge amount of water to produce toilet paper btw!) According to The Scientific American, ‘It takes about 473,587,500,000 gallons of water to produce all that toilet for Americans and 253,000 tons of chlorine to bleach it. To break this statistic down further, it takes up to 37 gallons of water to make a single roll of toilet paper!’

Now think about a bidet style wash by comparison. Of course, as with so many cultures that wipe, they grew up with it and changing public perception takes either a long time, or a world-changing moment to break it. We just have one right now!

The companies who produce and sell ‘bidets’ are getting lots of views and whereas a major player like GEBERIT offers some super cool and funky remote control bidets (see the video) the likes of TUSHY make it accessible to (practically) all. That in turn is educating consumers and their previous behaviour. Add to that the realisation that washing yourself with a bidet can help with cleanliness, may lead to fewer instances of rashes, hemorrhoids, urinary infections, can also be a better option for people with IBS and other medical issues. Then allay other fears, i.e. ‘If you’re worried about using toilet water to clean your intimate parts, then you shouldn’t be. It’s tap water, just like the water you’re already using when you take a bath or shower.

The question of ‘tail wagging dog‘ as posed above is becoming more probable. To give you an idea of the current movement [it just goes with the subject;)] towards bidets take a look at TUSHY who we mentioned above. An American company founded back in 2014 who offer an affordable, easy fit bidet for your bathroom, and guess what, as the New York Post reported just last week ‘Sales have been up about [tenfold], which is pretty crazy,’ Jason Ojalvo, CEO. TUSHY also claim their device reduces a person’s use of toilet paper by 80%. That’s got to be an affordable alternative to toilet paper, that may be worth a second thought and… will pay for itself in no time at all.

TUSHY bidet on Instagram

If you have any questions about the whole bidet business, ie How to use it, how to dry off afterwards, hygiene, health, how happy your butt’ll be etc. head to the TUSHYAll your Questions Answered‘ page – it’s enlightening!

I feel we’ve done a lot to get to the bottom of this in today’s post [sorry!] The main thing and our point is, there’s been a greater awareness of bidets than ever before, the USA was the least likely to adopt them and yet it’s begun to happen. Will this be a flash in the pan? We think not. With the other topics we love to keep discussing, like the companies that are changing the way toilet paper is produced, sold and marketed e.g. Who Gives a Crap, Cheeky Panda and such like as well as other of the ever familiar names popping up in bathrooms everywhere, PooPourri to name but one – yep, times they are a changing!

In fact John Branden writing for Forbes in an article about, ‘What Coronavirus Trending Topics Say About Our Current Predicament‘ commented, ‘According to several apps I’ve been using to track trending topics on social media and online, what we care about is bamboo toilet paper, Instacart, and (very curiously) Drizly. Also — UHT milk. I had to look that one up. (It lasts much longer. Go buy some.)

It’s not just the toilet paper manufacturers that are the only ones who are being disrupted, America could also be on the way to losing the toilet race! Bidets are already out there in vast numbers, it’s not like you have to create a product (like the i-phone was for example) it’s just education, desperation or realisation. On a final note, why not look at all that’s included in the $17,000 NEOREST by Toto (Japan) and imagine that in your bathroom. Now that’s a throne fit for a King or Queen!!

Let us know your thoughts… chat@thedailypoo.co.uk We’ll be back next Friday!

‘Poosflash’ Think about what you flush down the loo. If it’s not the 3Ps; toilet paper, no. 1s or no. 2s, then in the UK alone, it will be costing us in excess of £100m each year… and a whole heap of trouble.

We’ve often discussed, and are sure you’ve heard about, fatbergs. Yep, those disgusting planet like combos of every disgusting thing that shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet pan! If you had to deal with them head on, and sort out the damage they cause – then (if you’re doing that now, or have done in the past, usually quite innocently) maybe you’ll think again before you throw all that shit, that isn’t shit, into the loo – hopefully armed with this insight, you’ll not. Out of sight, will in time return to mind and not be out if it, as this will be a big problem for us all if people don’t think before they throw. Think the 3Ps Poo, Pee & Paper* [Toilet Paper* that is, as other tissue etc. is not made to break down like TP is, hence the name!]

Example of a 3Ps sign to use in the Bathroom

As the BBC reported back in January, even before the CV19 arose, ‘Every year the UK spends about £100m clearing an estimated 300,000 fatbergs, the blockages created from the congealed fats and waste we pour down the sink and flush down the toilet.’ If you are concerned that that money could be better spent and most of us can think of a dozen things immediately, then please let’s take this matter seriously. In a number of countries, the 3Ps sign is commonly seen above or near both public and domestic toilets – and it serves as a great reminder. Love your Loo!

Need more info or want to read up on all this? Then click on any of the links below and some excellent articles on the subject:

copyright Thames Water | Don’t Feed the Fatberg
  1. The war on fatbergs | The BBC
  2. UK’s Sewage System in Danger of Gridlock | The Guardian
  3. Don’t Feed the Fatberg | Thames Water
  4. On a more positive note! ‘Turning Fatbergs into BioFuelSmithsonian
  5. and of course… Wikepedia

It’s also worth repeating once again, that the current toilet paper situation is caused by people buying too much toilet paper, it’s a fact… as industry experts keep telling everyone (who’ll listen.) This in turn is causing people to use other papers & wet wipes etc. which is compounding the problem of the fatbergs and potential sewer problems for us all!

We’ll be back on Friday with more news on loos and no. 2s at ‘TheDailyPoo!