Let’s Rant About Mega Toilet Paper Rolls

mega toilet paper


Here at Happy Simple Living, we are not afraid to flush out the big, pressing issues that face our nation. Which is why we have bravely plunged into the issue of mega toilet paper rolls.

Most major t.p. manufacturers now sell Colossus Jumbo Magnum rolls containing 4 TIMES!! the sheets of a regular roll. (As we all know, today’s ‘regular roll’ contains approximately 14 squares.)

Is this claim true? Do we consumers really want these fatter rolls — even though they no longer fit in the holders?

My friends, you are an intelligent bunch. When you see those packages, do you feel happy because you’re getting an even greater value in your toilet paper purchases?

Or do you feel cranky because you’re paying more bucks for fewer squares?

Sometimes I wonder if toilet paper manufacturers think our brains are full of ultra soft cotton.


cotton headed ninny


This is definitely a #FirstWorldProblem, but these Hercules-sized rolls do not fit in any of our holders. Furthermore, our neighborhood grocery store has stopped selling normal rolls, and now only sells Colossus Jumbo Magnum rolls.

Guaranteed To Fit

I recently purchased several packages of Quilted Northern Ultra Soft & Strong, as the company’s wood and fiber sourcing practices are certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

Sustainability was part of my decision, but the other reason was this compelling promise printed on the package: “Guaranteed to fit your roll holder or your money back.”

Bolstered with confidence, I bought the package and breathlessly ran upstairs to install a roll. The funny thing is that there is at least an inch of space on either side of the roll, but I had to use a shoehorn to get the roll in the holder.

Once in, it would not turn. For obvious reasons, this presents a problem. As you can see, the top of the roll is wedged in the holder:


Mega toilet paper roll


In the interest of getting a handle on this issue, I decided to take advantage of the company’s money-back guarantee.

When I visited the site, however, I was disappointed to see not an offer for cash back, but an offer for a free “Roll Extender.”



Quilted Northern Roll Extender Offer | Happy Simple Living blog


The value of the free roll extender was “$2 – $3” according to the site.

Is it me, or does this whole Mega Roll Extender thing sound just a little naughty?


Quilted Northern roll extender


Clearly, if I wanted to actually use my new Quilted Northern toilet paper, I would have to get their gadget. The instructions required me to write “the reason you would like a roll extender” on a piece of paper.

This is excellent researching strategy from the Quilted Northern Quality Control team. Because, what could possibly be the reason why a person would need an extender?

Could it be that the #%$@&! Colossus Jumbo Magnum toilet paper roll doesn’t fit in the holder??

<<deep breath, deep cleansing breath, inhale peace, exhale stress>>

Anyhow, I dutifully assembled my proof of purchase, receipt, and required explanatory letter, and sent it off.


Letter to Quilted Northern


Then the waiting began. Nine weeks passed, with no sign of my Roll Extender. I felt like Ralphie from The Christmas Story, anxiously waiting for my Ovaltine decoder ring to arrive.

After so many disappointing daily trips to the mailbox, I wondered if the Quilted Northern people had forgotten about me and my Roll Extender.

Looking for Answers

I’ve learned that sometimes big brands’ social media managers will reply quickly to customer service requests, so I decided to reach out and touch someone via the Quilted Northern Facebook page.

Before I could send my message, though, I had to officially “Like” the page. The header photo features an enviable prototype toilet paper holder (probably designed by Elon Musk) that perfectly fits the Quilted Northern mega roll. Jealous!!


quilted northern Facebook page


The moment I clicked the “Like” button, Facebook helpfully alerted all of my friends and family members about my new passion.


Parody Facebook toilet paper page


Feeling “heady,” I sent off my inquiry. Sure enough, the social media manager responded quickly. (It pays to be the Facebook fan of a t.p. company.) The note read: “Hi Eliza, thanks for contacting us. Let us reach some of our internal teams and see what we can do. We will get back to you soon!”

Not only was I getting personal service, but the INTERNAL TEAMS of Quilted Northern were getting involved. Talk about having friends in lofty places!

A few days later, the package I had been awaiting for ten weeks finally arrived with a nice letter and my very own $2-$3 value Roll Extender.


Letter from Quilted Northern


I could hardly wait to try it!

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. The Roll Extender worked.


Toilet paper roll extender


We could now actually turn my Mega Toilet Paper roll, thus providing that all-important access to the tissue.

The only downside? The Roll Extender is white plastic, which doesn’t match the chrome holder, and it has the Quilted Northern logo printed in the “gap” area. With a roll in place, you see the letters “TED” and “ERN.”

Do we choose aesthetics or utility, my friends? This is a conundrum that has plagued mankind through the ages, from the design of stone tools and wooden teeth to Quonset huts and men’s sandals.

How About You?

Do you love or loathe this new trend? Do you long for the good old days of Double Rolls? Or do the Mega Grande Big Honkin’ toilet tissue rolls fit just fine in your holders?

How long will it be before a rogue manufacturer offers a roll with 5 times the sheets of a regular roll?

Also:  Do you think that perhaps I need to take up a new hobby?

I’d love to hear from you, and together we’ll get to the “bottom” of this important tissue issue.


The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Embracing a Funky Old Tool Shed

Siding: Cedar Shakes, Trim: Cedar Shakes/White, Door: Red, Roof: Light Brown/Metal - This is a custom building.

Photo by Sheds Unlimited

When we moved here ten years ago, I was very grateful that our house had a tool shed in the back yard. It’s a luxury to have storage space for garden tools, pots, soil, the wheelbarrow and other various outdoor odds and ends.

Since I’ve written for home magazines for many years, I’m often exposed to fabulous, high-end homes and landscapes. Most home design writers will agree with me that this is both a blessing and occasionally, a challenge.

It’s endlessly fascinating to hear about people’s crazy remodels and sloping lots and zoning issues and architects and builders and interior designers. It’s a rare privilege to see their incredible, perfect homes. On the other hand, sometimes I return home with a critical eye instead of a grateful heart for all that we have.

I recently wrote about a beautiful lakefront home in Montana’s  Whitefish  Lake for Mountain Living magazine. The homeowners Orlan and Debra Sorensen built the most fabulous stone garden shed you’ve ever seen, complete with a sitting area and porch overlooking the lake. You can peek at it here, and the shed is the last photo at the end of the story.

Dreams vs. Reality

If I were going to splurge on a new potting shed, perhaps I’d consider one like the custom structure by Sheds Unlimited posted above. Something charming, with windows to let in the sunlight, and maybe even with a little table inside where I could escape and read fine literature and sip something like…oh, I don’t know… a sparkling drink with fresh mint and lavender syrup.

But the reality is that our shed is of a slightly… different architectural style. Our shed, in fact, looks like this:


Tool shed covered with reclaimed fencing | Happy Simple Living blog

It’s rectangular with a flat roof, and the exterior is covered with old, reclaimed cedar fencing. Because it is so wonderfully utilitarian and because we’re trying to live sustainably with what we have, I’ve given up trying to class up the shed and have decided, instead, to celebrate its unique flair.

I added a few metal signs to the front of it to celebrate its funky siding, and nailed the warped boards back in place.


Funky old tool shed | Happy Simple Living blog

The shed is topped with a lovely faux owl that is supposed to scare the flickers away from our siding but which, in fact, does not fool fowl or the rabbits who visit the garden.

I had the structure re-roofed, and Pop kindly added vents to keep it cooler in the summer. It may not be a magazine-worthy shed, but it’s functional and fun and I am grateful for it.

How About You?

Do you have an area in or around your house where you’ve decided to simply go with what’s there? Have you decided to keep your rare pink bathroom fixtures or sturdy Formica counters and let them become part of your home’s charm? I’d love to hear your stories in the Comments section below.

Here’s to making the best of what we have, and embracing the funky!


The signature for Eliza Cross


About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

A Garden Where There Once Was None

New garden | Happy Simple Living blog

My son and I tackled a big project this summer. We had a vision to create a cool, shady spot under the trees for a small table and chairs.

The location was in a wild, overgrown area of the south side of the house that had always been a jumble of weeds and vines and bushes and sapling trees. Here’s the “before” photo:


New garden before | Happy Simple Living blog

On Demolition Day, my son used a handsaw to cut and clear all of the trees and bushes. I was his assistant, dragging and piling the branches. After several hours, much of the overgrowth was gone and a sense of the new garden begin to take shape. It was a very therapeutic day.

Later, we dug and cut and yanked out smaller stumps and roots. I spent many hours on my knees hacking at the hard clay soil, and began to sense a spiritual parallel.

So I started praying and asked God to clear out the deadwood and weedy, overgrown places in my heart. I asked for help to let go of some things that still weighed on me, and asked for healing of past hurts and disappointments.

At one especially difficult point during this time of hacking and introspection, the ground was so hard I felt like there must be a brick beneath my spade. And guess what?


Digging through clay soil | Happy Simple Living blog

There was a broken brick buried in the ground!

When the stumps and roots (and brick) were cleared, I asked for a renewal and refreshing of my spirit. I prayed for inner peace to foster quiet time and reflection, and a new place for creative ideas to grow.

A neighbor was giving away an eighth-ton of rock, so I loaded three buckets in the back of the Toyota and drove the four blocks to his house. Over three days, I made numerous trips carrying manageable buckets of gravel and spread it in the new place under the trees. It was just the right amount of stone.

We hung a string of lights overhead and a hummingbird feeder in a tree. A bright green metal table and chairs from Target fit right in the space, and a coleus plant added color.


Coleus plant | Happy Simple Living blog


Our dear friends Debbie and John brought us perennial shade plants in memory of my son’s dad and my former husband, Jose, who passed away this year. This is “Sea Heart:”


Sea Heart | Happy Simple Living blog


A stray hollyhock seed blew in and planted itself at the entrance of the garden,  where it bloomed with the showiest fuchsia blossoms all summer.


Hollyhock blossom | Happy Simple Living


The garden is such a peaceful place to drink coffee and listen to the birds and write in my journal.


new garden


Several friends visited throughout the summer, and the space was as cool and pleasant as I once dreamed it might be.


Friends visit our new garden | Happy Simple Living blog


The tiny space will always need maintenance. Vines try to creep back in, and weeds push up through the rocks.

But now there is a small garden flourishing in a place that was once neglected and overgrown, and I am so very grateful.

May you find a clearing amidst the noise, space to grow, and unexpected beauty in the days to come.


The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

January Money Diet Day 28 – Make Something with Your Own Hands

Make homemade chocolate truffles | Happy Simple Living blog

One of the (many) reasons I love my sister Catherine is because she is an intrepid DIYer. She will fearlessly experiment with creative endeavors that would intimidate many. She has hand-sewn her own Battenberg lace, for example. She makes those mind-bogglingly complex Ukrainian Pysanky Easter eggs. She raises chickens and bottles her own Limoncello and grows artichokes.

She inspires me to get my hands dirty and try new things. If you’re game in these final days of the January Money Diet, let’s try making something from scratch. We’ll save money, learn something new, and feel the satisfaction that comes from creating something with our own hands.

Here are some ideas:

Kitchen Staples

Biscuit Mix

Graham crackers


Spaghetti sauce

Ricotta cheese




Greek yogurt

Pita bread

Gourmet Treats

Dim Sum






Chocolate truffles


Home Goods

Laundry detergent

Dryer sheets

“Unpaper” towels



Dog treats

Cat Litter

How About You?

What do you love to hand-craft? If you make something at home in the coming days, be sure to let us know what you create in the Comments section of this page.

By the way, if you’re on Pinterest you can check out my “Foods From Scratch” and “Made By Hand” boards for more easy ideas. Better yet, follow my sister Catherine, who posts amazing recipes, craft ideas and DIY home projects.


The signature for Eliza Cross

Photo:  David Leggett

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Day 18 of the January Money Diet – Fix, Polish or Show Something TLC

Mend and repair

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!”

Perhaps you’ve heard that old saying. People of our grandparents’ generation weren’t nearly the consumers that we are today. They grew up learning to take care of their possessions and make things last, a useful skill that can help stretch dollars today.

Let’s Fix, Polish or Maintain Something

We honor our possessions when we take good care of them. This quiet January is the perfect time to tackle a few maintenance tasks or make something shiny and new again.

This weekend I used a can of white paint I already had on hand to touch up some of the interior trim in the house that had gotten chipped. It’s amazing how much better it looks. I also sharpened the kitchen knives. These small, simple tasks are surprisingly satisfying.

This week, I plan to get out the shoe polish kit and make my scuffed brown boots look great again. I also want to sew a button back on my favorite sweater.

How About You?

Perhaps your garden tools could use a good cleaning and sharpening, or maybe it’s time to delete some computer files to make more room on your hard drive and update all the programs. Perhaps your bike could use a good tune-up, or you feel like washing the windows or polishing the furniture.

Let’s Get Busy

Let’s tackle a few of those projects we’ve been meaning to get to, and experience the satisfaction of taking care of what we have.

How about you? Do you have something you can fix, polish or maintain this week? If you accomplish this task, we’d all love to hear what you did in the Comments section of this page. It’s been so inspiring to read your first-hand experiences with this money diet.

Happy Martin Luther King Day! Keep up the good work, and you’ll hear from me again tomorrow with a new challenge.

Hugs and gratitude,

The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

January Money Diet Day 15 – Create a Calm Space

Beautiful space

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

Welcome to Day 15 of the January Money Diet. Today’s challenge is about making a peaceful, uncluttered spot.

Clearing space is a gift we give ourselves. When we create an open, clean space to live or work, we’re honoring ourselves by creating a pleasant place of calm.

Along with the inner peace that comes from working and living in an uncluttered space, organized living means we’ll spend less time looking for lost items and more time enjoying a visually pleasing, harmonious environment.

Some of you may remember when I cleaned out a cabinet that held vases. I reduced our vast vase collection by half, and now whenever I open the cabinet I feel good.

Empty spaces in a cabinet? Believe me, this was a whole new concept for me. But what used to be a jam-packed source of stress is a half-empty source of peace.

What About The Messy Heathens I Live With?

If you have little kids or family members who don’t share your zeal for reducing clutter, you may have to focus on just the spaces you can control right now. I’ve been there, and I know it can feel a little discouraging to live in an untidy space. But perhaps you can work on straightening your side of the closet, or organizing your dresser drawers, or neatening your shop area in the garage. Create a secret place of calm for you, and you’ll feel a little less frustrated.

Keeping Things in Perspective

Groceries | Happy Simple LivingOnce when my daughter was a toddler and I was working long hours and commuting and feeling generally overwhelmed, I stopped at the grocery store after work and bought a huge cart of groceries. I hurried to my car to load the grocery bags, and an older woman who was carrying one small bag smiled at me. “Oh my,” she said. “You’re right in the thick of it, aren’t you?”

I nodded, feeling like I might cry because of her kindness and recognition.

“I was like you once, but now my children are all grown and my husband died last year,” she said, holding up her one grocery bag. “So it’s just me now.”

We looked at each other and nodded, and I sensed that she would give anything to be back “in the thick of it” as I was.

I think of that holy encounter when I feel overwhelmed, and try to remember to be grateful for these jam-packed days. Someday, I know I will look back on my child-raising years as the Good Old Days. We do the best we can, so let’s be kind to ourselves during each of life’s seasons.

This Weekend’s Challenge

In the coming days if you’re in the mood, spend a little time decluttering one area. It can be a small or big project, depending on how much time you want to devote to it. You could tidy your bedroom so it feels like an oasis of calm at the end of the day. Or you could straighten up your desk, get rid of unnecessary papers and clean your computer monitor until it sparkles. Or spend thirty minutes organizing the medicine cabinet.

You could clean out your refrigerator and wipe down the shelves. Or unclutter the coat closet. Tackle one wall of the garage. Spend the afternoon straightening up the basement. It’s up to you. Just organize one spot, and bask in the satisfaction of a nice, clear space.

For inspiration, you might enjoy Unclutterer and Organized Home.

If you tidy up a space and like the result, we’d love to hear about your project in the Comments section of this page.

And if you’re tired and you just feel like relaxing, by all means do that.

Enjoy the weekend, and we’ll tackle a new challenge together on Monday.


The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Planting Peas and Hoping for the Best

Planting Peas

I planted peas last week, so the 2015 summer garden is officially underway.

I probably should have gotten them in the ground earlier, but we had heavy, wet snow last weekend and I was ensconced inside with a good book and hot tea.

With our changing weather patterns it’s hard to know exactly when to sow seeds and how our plants will respond to temperature extremes, but we do our best and keep trying.

Gardening always has been, at its heart, an act of faith.


How to plant peas


These are organic Oregon Sugar Pod snow pea seeds. They soaked in filtered water inside for 24 hours before planting, so they were nice and plump. I planted half of the packet, and will save the other half for a fall crop. The seeds are planted about an inch apart — twice as dense as the recommended 2-inch separation. When the plants emerge I’ll thin them and we’ll enjoy the tender pea shoots on pasta.

Close up of peas before planting


To give the vines something to climb on, I planted them around a cone-shaped support woven of willow:

Willow support for peas


How about you? Have you started planting your summer garden yet? What do you hope to grow this year? I’d love to hear about your plans.

Hugs and happy digging,

The signature for Eliza Cross

Nepal-childP.S. My heart is heavy this morning, mourning for the people of Nepal. So far away, all I know to do is offer the two things that can help — prayers and support. Organizations like Mercy Corps and American Red Cross are on the ground right now providing assistance, and we are grateful.

Photo: Mercy Corps


About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

In Search of Good Toilet Paper – Part 2

Toilet paper comparison

I’m beginning to consider the possibility that the perfect toilet paper may not exist. As I wrote earlier this month, I’m on a quest to find the perfect t.p. that offers comfort, a reasonable price, and earth-friendly manufacturing. Unfortunately, these attributes can sometimes conflict with other important considerations.

We’d all love a brand of toilet paper that is soft, strong, and not prone to turning “linty” during use. (One Amazon reviewer referred to a certain toilet paper’s tendency to cause “dingleberries,” a term I laughed over for several days.) Cottonelle and Quilted Northern Ultra Plush get high rankings online for these attributes.

Quilted Northern Ultra is the #1 toilet paper on Amazon, in fact, with a near-5-star rating and more than 3400 reviews.

For more data related to these attributes, alert reader Elaine kindly pointed us to testing by Good Housekeeping. The institute performed extensive research, looking at factors like absorbency, strength, and softness.

Their top choices? Charmin Ultra Soft, Cottonelle Ultra, and once again — Quilted Northern Ultra Plush. Eureka! Might Quilted Northern Ultra Plush be the elusive, Holy Grail of toilet tissue?

Not So Fast, Kemosabe

The issue with Quilted Northern Ultra Plush? From reader e-mails I received with anecdotal information, it’s one of the brands  that may be more prone to clogging pipes. The other brand most mentioned in this regard by readers is our household’s current brand, Cottonelle.

It stands to reason that the tissue’s strong/fluffy combination doesn’t break apart as quickly, so if your pipes are super-finicky you may want to choose something other than Cottonelle and Quilted Northern Ultra Plush.

Scott was a brand recommended by several readers for its sewer pipe-friendliness (a phrase we don’t get to use nearly often enough, if you ask me).

Is Earth Friendly Toilet Paper an Oxymoron?

I’d really love to make an environmentally-conscious buying decision, so I turned to the NRDC’s list of toilet tissue ratings.

Two brands caught my eye on this list — Marcal and Seventh Generation.

Several readers recommended the eco-friendly brand, Seventh Generation, which is manufactured from 100%  recycled paper — 80% of it the post-consumer type. It’s also the only brand that scored well on both the NRDC list, while ranking a respectable B-on the Good Housekeeping list.

Marcal Thick & Soft, also praised by readers, is made from 100% recycled paper, but only 40% of it is post-consumer. This might actually be a plus, as you’ll read below. In addition, Marcal’s parent company Soundview Paper is frequently recognized for its corporate values, ethical standards and environmental stewardship.

Of the three brands we tested, Marcal is also the “tallest” t.p. — about 3/8 inch wider on the spindle than Cottonelle. It also has the most sheets per roll — 360 two-ply sheets.

Could Seventh Generation or Marcal be our Ultimate Choice?

Hold On There, Maynard

Several readers alerted me to the possibility of BPA levels in toilet tissue made from post-consumer recycled paper; this is due in part to the recycling of thermal receipts — which have high levels of BPA — that get in the general paper stream. You can read more about this possible problem here, but even after trying to “absorb” the information it’s difficult to make an educated decision. The facts are as fuzzy as roll of cheap toilet paper about how much BPA one is exposed to when using these products, as well as the levels it might be considered safe for us be be exposed to BPA.

Marcal and Seventh Generation both have a slightly greyish color, and their two-ply paper comes apart more easily than one-ply Cottonelle, making them less DR (dingleberry resistant).

What About Cost?

Because toilet paper is a product we use every day, day in and day out, the costs can add up over time. The ultimate product would also be a good value.

It’s challenging to decipher the costs based on number of sheets per roll, but alert reader Judy sent in a handy chart to compare brands according to the square footage per package, the only real way to evaluate those confusing “double roll” claims.  Scott brand comes in at the top of this list for best value.

Of the three brands we’ve been testing this month, these are our local costs for a 12-roll package from least to most expensive:

Marcal Thick and Soft – $9.99 or 83 cents a roll or .23 cents per sheet

Seventh Generation – $12.72 or $1.06 a roll or .35 cents per sheet

Cottonelle Clean Care – $10.95 or 91 cents a roll or .44 cents per sheet

The “Bottom” Line

We’ve personally tested Seventh Generation and Marcal this month, comparing it with our previous brand, Cottonelle. Here are our findings, based on a 12-pack of “double” rolls:

SEVENTH GENERATION might be right for you if you want:  A product that doesn’t use trees; is made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper; and has pretty good comfort qualities.
Number of sheets per roll:  300 2-ply sheets
Width:  4 inches
Cost:  Mid-range
Earth-friendly attributes: Very Good
Comfort and DR (dingleberry-resistance):  Good
Value:  Moderate

MARCAL might be right for you if you want:  A taller roll that fills up the holder; more sheets per roll and a low price; a socially-responsible manufacturer; a product that doesn’t use trees; and a lower percentage of post-consumer recycled content which might translate to lower BPA levels.
Number of sheets per roll:  360 2-ply sheets
Width:  4 5/16 inches
Cost:  Low
Earth-friendly attributes:  Excellent
Comfort and DR:  Moderate
Value: Very Good

COTTONELLE might be right for you if you want: A product made from responsibly sourced trees (certified by the Forest Stewardship Council); good DR qualities; a product that is soft and strong (and therefore most appropriate for sewer pipes not prone to clogging).
Number of sheets per roll:  208 1-ply sheets
Width:  3 15/16 inches
Cost:  Higher
Earth-friendly attributes:  Moderate
Comfort and DR:  Very Good
Value:  Moderate

To complicate our experiment, our local grocery store put Cottonelle on sale this week!

Cottonelle on sale

For now, we’ve switched to Marcal in two out of three bathrooms, with Cottonelle still present in the third.

Next we’re going to try Trader Joe’s toilet tissue, which was recommended by several readers. I’ll report back with our findings soon, knowing that you’ll be on “the edge of your seat” until then.

Big thanks to all of you who chimed in on the original post and shared many interesting suggestions around this topic. I’d love to hear if you’ve discovered a solution, so please keep those comments coming!


The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Let’s Talk about Toilet Paper – Part 1

Toilet paper holder

My friends, I’ve decided to give our toilet paper choice a comprehensive review. Because toilet paper is an ongoing expense and a resource we use continually, I want to be sure we’re making an informed decision. Naturally, you’re invited to come along for the journey.

Last year, I finally got fed up with the store brand of toilet paper. Over the years the rolls had gotten thinner and shorter, and the paper seemed increasingly prone to disintegrating. One day I marched into the store muttering to myself, “You work hard, you make sacrifices for the family, and darn it, you deserve nice toilet paper.” I yanked a 12-pack of Cottonelle Clean Care off the shelf, and never looked back.

Cottonelle toilet paper

This wasn’t a frugal buying decision at all. At our local King Soopers, a 12-pack of Cottonelle is $7.49. With tax, it’s 67 cents a roll. We don’t belong to a price club, so the only way we save money is when it goes on sale—which is rarely.

The label is printed in nice, bold print. Yet for some reason, the text at the bottom listing the number of sheets per roll is printed in the lightest, impossible-to-read pale blue. Why do you think this is?

toilet paper info

With the aid of high-strength binoculars, I was able to read that a pack contains 12 rolls, each with 208 1-ply sheets per roll. It also lists the square footage (266.4) and square meters (24). This information could be handy for easily comparing brands—if only one could read it.

The package boasts that my 12 “Double Rolls” are equal to 24 “Single Rolls.” Like me, do you scratch your head when you read this? Since every toilet paper brand now considers its products to be double rolls, ours don’t seem particularly robust.


Magnifying the text on a t.p. roll

Aided by a magnifier, I found the Double vs. Single explanation on the package back in a font so small that Ripley’s Believe it Or Not Museum once used it to print the Declaration of Independence on the head of a pin:  “1 Double Roll equals 2.3 times the number of sheets as the leading ultra brand regular roll.” Ahh, now I understand.

Fancy T.P. and Sasquatch

Wait—what “leading ultra brand?” Are you telling me the leading ultra brand only has 90 squares per roll? I’m skeptical. Let’s keep our eyes open for pricey—but skinny—super-fancy t.p. rolls in the future. Will you let me know if you find this elusive, half-size luxury roll?

On the plus side, I also discovered this information in tiny elfin text: “Paper from responsible sources,” accompanied by a miniscule logo from the Forest Stewardship Council. Greenwashing? Not this time. A little research convinced me that the FSC is a legit organization which promotes responsible harvesting. Here are the principles of FSC-certified forests:

* Never harvests more than what grows back
* Protects biodiversity and endangered species
* Saves rare ancient trees
* Guards local streams
* Supports the local people
* Uses narrow skidding trails so as not to disrupt the rest of the forest
* Prohibits replacement by tree plantations
* Bans toxic chemicals
* Bans genetically modified trees (no GMO)

In the coming days, I aim to delve further into whether Cottonelle is the best choice for us—and if so, whether we can buy it cheaper elsewhere. All three of these attributes are equally important:

a. Comfort

b. As earth-friendly as possible

c. Reasonable price (would this be the right time to make a “cash flow” pun?)

How about you?

Do you make your own toilet paper from recycled feed sacks? If not, would you be willing to share the brand of toilet paper you use? Do you buy it at the grocery store? Or do you get those Volkswagen-sized packages at Costco for a better price? Are you Single Roll, Double Roll, Triple Roll or Mega-Quintuple Roll user?

I look forward to flushing out all of the options with you in the days ahead.


The signature for Eliza Cross

Top photo: A.N. Berlin


About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.