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.

Hugs,

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.

16 comments to Let’s Talk about Toilet Paper – Part 1

  • Joyce

    I use marcal. I buy it in the grocery store. I occasionally have coupons but not always. It is more expensive than the store brand single ply (that we used to use). I buy 12 or 24 packs to avoid the paper wrapping but that might be zeroed out by the plastic wrapping. 🙁

  • We use Seventh Generation bathroom tissue: 100% recycled (minimum 50% post-consumer recycled paper), 2-ply sheets, whitened without chlorine bleach. We buy it in large quantities online (Amazon sells it) and have it delivered. Very happy with it.

  • I’ve also been reexamining my TP choices…we typically purchase ours from Costco, but I recently read an article that discussed the prevalence of BPA in toilet paper — which has caused me to more or less question everything. We’re by no means going to switch to DIY tp, but I haven’t figured out a satisfactory alternative!

  • Retired Educator

    Glad to see this topic. Should prove for some interesting discussion. In the past, I have generally purchased TP when it was on sale and always stocking up, so I never had to buy because it was needed right now. For some reason, I have a strong aversion to even the thought of ever running out of toilet paper. For years I have purchased most of our toilet paper at CVS , our local drugstore, which is located close by and where I shop regularly for other sale items.

    However, like you I recently had the thought that I might consider living less frugally, and buying a certain brand of TP all the time if it was what I liked best, even if not on sale, but, of course, would try to stock up and buy multiple packs when it is on sale. I have not determined what brand that would be, so will be interested to see what you conclude.

    In past I have purchased a lot of Scott brand, because the rolls seem to be bigger l ast longer. Remember I hate the thought of running out, and you get that feeling, when you are constantly having to reach for another roll. However, that brand seems thin and not that soft, so I am thinking of switching, if I can decide what is a better choice. Looking forward to your conclusion.

  • Lois

    I have been using Marcel because it is 100% recycled. There are zero options of recycled TP in the local stores so I am stuck purchasing it online.

    I would not buy Cottonelle for my home. No matter how careful they are in harvesting the trees, they are still cutting down trees for us to have a single use item that gets flushed away. I just can’t justify that for my household.

  • Oh my… you have no fear of controversial topics, do you? First the dishwasher, now this? Well, as long as we’re wading in…

    I use the Kroger house brand – the “soft & strong” variety, and honestly, the stuff seems pretty darned luxurious to me. I have on occasion used more expensive stuff, but it seems to leave a lot of lint behind, which totally grosses me out. I used to buy recycled TP but I’m concerned about BPA in recycled TP because I’m especially sensitive to fluctuations in estrogen levels, so I really try hard to minimize my exposure to estrogen mimicking chemicals. If there was such a thing as BPA free recycled TP, I’d probably use it.

    I am one of the crazy people who has experimented with DIY TP. I hope this doesn’t gross anybody out, but my experience is as follows. For pee, rinsing with water and drying with a small dedicated personal towel is just fine. Seriously, all of the men I have known intimately seem to use the “3-shakes” method, and this couldn’t possibly be any less sanitary than that is!

    For poo… well, there’s just no good substitute for TP. I’ve heard of people who use washcloths that they soak & wash in bleach, but the yuck factor is just a bit too much for me, so I’m stickin’ with the disposable option for number 2!

    But it’s amazing how much less TP one uses when it’s just for number two!

  • Victoria

    I have a thing about TP. I only get certain brands, usually very high quality, because for some reason cheap TP iseems to get rolled up in my pubic hair which I find very disgusting. Sorry, I know TMI but really. My husband who does the shopping forgets which brands to get where ( he shops at several different stores) so sometimes I do have to use the gross stuff. Money doesnt enter into it, just whether it rolls up or not. Single sheets are the WORST but some name brands leave flakes every where. I believe the “bears” in the woods have commercials about this.

  • Green Girls Don't Get Fat

    We buy very few disposable items such as paper towels and sponges, so I with the money saved, I don’t mind spending a little extra on TP. Comfort isn’t quite as big a deal for me as the responsibly sourced and preferably recycled. However, if my husband buys it, he just gets the cheapest stuff. I saw “No Impact Man”, who went a year without any TP, and since I’m NOT willing to take ‘green’ that far, I’ll settle for any comfort level just to have my disposable TP. 🙂

  • Natalie

    In December of 2013 my toilet got clogged up. It was a fairly new toilet and we could not unclog it. We do not have children or anyone who might have thrown something down the toilet. It was the first time in our 43 years of marriage that we had a clog that could not be fixed with a quick plunge of the plunger.
    What was different? I had gone to the toilet at a friend’s house and quite insipidly raved about their toilet paper at the dinner table. They told me it was Cottonelle. Our toilet was clogged within a month (we had previously used store brands).

    We had to hire a plumber at some expense. He entered the bathroom and said right away that we had a “Cottonelle” plug. He said that Cottonelle is one of the “luxury” brands that can clog toilets. After snaking out the toilet he said he had found the toilet paper was the culprit. We switched to 7th generation and have had no trouble since then.

    This is merely anecdotal information, of course, but Cottonelle was the ONLY smoking gun at the scene of the expensive repair!

  • Phil Pogson

    We use Quilton. It works out to about 26 cents per 100 sheets.
    In Australia we have a comparison requirement for all shelf labels in supermarkets which compares the price per unit (so you can equally compare to other brands)

    • Judy

      There is definitely a lot of loud marketing noise on the labels. I usually find really good toilet paper for much cheaper from the non-loud advertised toilet papers compared to all the JUMBO jargon. Calculating the price per square feet will give you its true value. Some toilet papers are actually much smaller in sheets which can make it seem like you’re actually getting more sheets. The only place I found that calculates toilet paper costs per square foot is here.

  • Lyn

    We use Seventh Generation 1-ply 1000 sheet rolls. I buy them by the case at our local Co-op and get a 10% discount. I can’t think of anything worse than running out of TP! Don’t worry much about whether or not our TP is a luxury. Our luxury is drying our towels in the dryer so they stay soft and fluffy. There are trade-offs everywhere. I do enjoy visiting other people who have softer TP, but it’s never been an issue for us. Good luck on your quest!

  • Jan

    I’ve been purchasing Cottonelle as well & I but it from Wal-Mart online. When I spend $50, shipping is free. I can’t remember the cost per roll though, but I believe it is cheaper than you are paying.

    Just found your site & I’m just starting to explore it!

  • Meg

    Scott, because country plumbing does not like the super “soft” brands. Creates clogs.

  • Chris

    Here’s an idea. Skip the TP, and buy a $28 bidet from Amazon.com. It installs on your toilet in 10 minutes. Cut up some old t-shirts to dry off with. Throw them in a lingerie bag after each use. On washing day, zip it up and toss in the wash. Water usage is minimal because the water stream is targeted and very small. Reviews on Amazon were enough to convince me to try it, and now I will never go back to TP.

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