Is Bamboo Toilet Paper All It’s Cracked Up to Be?

Is Bamboo Toilet Paper All It’s Cracked Up to Be?
Photo: Serhii Ivashchuk, Shutterstock

None of us expected we’d have as many conversations about toilet paper as we have since the beginning of the pandemic, when stock shortages and mad rushes made TP a hot commodity. In the chaos, you may have even considered alternatives, from bamboo paper to bidets, or you might be considering switching now.

Bamboo toilet paper has been touted by some as an eco-friendly option that’s still cushy enough to use comfortably. It’s made from bamboo (obviously) instead of trees, and it requires fewer resources to grow, process, and produce. Where you once might have worried about TP scarcity, you may be worrying about TP sustainability. Here’s what you need to know.

Is bamboo TP more environmentally friendly?

In general, yes. A single roll of conventional toilet paper is said to require 1 kg of wood and 140 l of water to make, while a single roll of bamboo toilet paper uses no wood and less than a gallon of water. It’s also highly renewable: Bamboo grows like a weed — three feet or more in a day — and reaches maturity much faster than trees, so it doesn’t require us to cut down forests to wipe our butts.

Plus, most bamboo toilet paper is made without added chemicals or bleach and is biodegradable, likely breaking down much faster than regular toilet paper (so it’s good for your septic system too).

Is bamboo TP soft?

Toilet paper texture is a very personal preference. While you may not need thick and pillowy TP, you probably don’t want to be wiping with something that feels like sandpaper, either. One way of comparing is by looking at the ply, or the number of layers per sheet. 1-ply paper has one layer, while 3-ply has three. Thicker isn’t always softer — but it is sturdier, and it may require you to use fewer sheets.

Bamboo toilet paper from companies like Tushy and Reel is 3-ply, and many reviewers of these brands and others listed on Amazon say that the paper is both sturdy and soft. It’s also lint-free.

Of course, you won’t know if you like the texture unless you try it.

Is bamboo TP more expensive?

Regular toilet paper is probably going to be cheaper than bamboo TP or other recycled options. For comparison, a 24-roll box of 3-ply Reel bamboo toilet paper, which has 300 sheets per roll, costs $US39.99 ($56) on Amazon. A 24-pack of 3-ply “mega rolls” from Quilted Northern — 255 sheets per roll — costs $US27.55 ($38) as of this writing.

A more direct look: the Reel paper is $US0.55 ($1) per 100 sheets, while the Quilted Northern is $US0.45 ($1) per 100 sheets. Select a 2-ply conventional paper instead, and the cost per sheet goes down even more.

Yes, bamboo toilet paper is a bit pricier. However, if its sturdiness means you use fewer sheets per wipe, it may be a wash.

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