Recycled Toilet Paper Not Such a Great Idea After All

by Sarah Green LivingComments: 156

Like many of you good little girls and boys out there trying to be responsible citizens of Planet Earth, I’ve been buying recycled toilet paper for some time in an attempt to be more environmentally conscious.


I just found out that my efforts to go green in the bathroom have been thwarted.   Recycled toilet paper turns out not to be such a good idea after all.  In fact, it is a most decidedly BAD idea and here’s why.

Two recent studies published in Environmental Science & Technology have shown that BPA and cousin chemical BPS used in “BPA free products” but also highly estrogenic in nature, are much more pervasive in our common, everyday products than we could have imagined.

Yeah, that BPA free stuff is no better and will mess up your hormones just as much.  But then, you sensed that was the case already didn’t you?  I know I did.

The term “safe chemical” is kind of an oxymoron so if something uses chemicals, just assume they are toxic unless proven otherwise.

How does all this relate to recycled toilet paper?

The two new studies mentioned above involved examination of hundreds of samples of paper from everyday items such as toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, newspapers, magazines, tickets, and even business cards.

Most of the paper samples tested contained the hormone disruptor BPA, BPS or both.  

How and why the paper was so contaminated is a question that requires further study to ascertain, but for now, the key is to avoid thermal paper as much as possible as this is the worst offender perhaps because it is often recycled and may somehow become contaminated during the recycling process.   The ink may be involved in the contamination as well.

In fact, it is best to avoid touching all recycled paper period as BPA and BPS absorb readily through the skin – you don’t have to eat it to have them enter your bloodstream.   If your job involves handling thermal paper receipts, for example, best to wear gloves.  And, if you can turn down receipts and instead rely on an online itemization of your expenditures, that would be a good step as well.

As for your backside, opt for toilet paper made from virgin pulp. This is an especially important area to protect from BPA and BPS as the skin in these areas is thin and delicate and is in very close proximity to the reproductive organs.

How to know if it’s virgin pulp?

Simple.  If the paper is not identified as a recycled product, odds are very good that it is made from virgin pulp.

Even better?  Buy a bidet.


Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Source:  Bottom Line Publications, Toxic Toilet Paper?  You Got It

Picture Credit

Comments (156)

  • David Stanley

    Toilet Paper is Toxic! No surprise there somehow but there is a simple and brilliant solution = get a Hand Bidet Sprayer and you can wash with water instead of wiping which is really not very hygienic. Far cleaner, healthier, saves money and it’s also better for the environment.

    June 29th, 2016 10:45 pm Reply
  • Kathy Donigan

    I have had little success finding a virgin pulp total chlorine free toilet paper. Does anyone know of one? Thanks!

    May 12th, 2016 11:26 pm Reply
  • Jay

    just use old sraps of clothing to clean with or use ur shower with soap after u take a dump if u are at home. sorry i know my language is crude

    August 13th, 2015 5:53 am Reply
  • Emily

    So I’m totally late to the game but I suggest Norwex’s body cloths and/or baby cloths! They sanitize themselves with a bit of water!!

    March 7th, 2014 7:12 pm Reply
  • Leonardo

    What do you think about toilet paper made of bamboo and it is BPA-free?

    November 11th, 2013 11:01 pm Reply
    • Xin

      1) I don’t know which toilet paper you’re talking about. All products are manufactured by different people using different processes.

      This is really important to note, because the processes used in modern manufacturing are multi-step and often involve many chemicals.

      2) That said, BPA is one of many, many estrogen-like compounds used in manufacturing (particularly plastics and non-stick/watertight linings & surfaces like inside cans).

      MANY companies replace BPA with other chemicals similar in nature to accomplish what the BPA was.

      It’s a bit like “gluten-free” items often being filled with processed crap or other additives or things you don’t want in your body.

      The point is that BPA is one of many chemical compounds that are estrogen-like in the human body.

      3) I’m chemically sensitive and have read others not liking the bamboo craze in clothing/”sustainable” products because of either (a) chemicals in how the bamboo is grown? or, perhaps more importantly, (b) chemicals added in processing. For example, “bamboo cutting boards” are often treated with formalin (a form of formaldehyde).

      There can — and quite often is — a difference between “renewable resource” and “healthy for a human to be in contact with”… but, ‘sustainable’ is often equated with ‘healthy’.

      (4)That said, I don’t know about the toilet paper you’re looking at.

      Is it better than what you’re using or going to use otherwise, though?

      That’s always a question with health.

      I’d personally use a combination of organic cotton cloth for urinating, and a bidet for “pooing” as my optimal solution… but, then, I’m actually likely to DO that consistently. Your mileage may vary. :)

      (5) Not in direct reply to “toilet paper made of bamboo,” but to the original post:

      The point about BPA is really interesting and makes me wonder what other things (xenoestrogen or other) we may be absorbing through our skin by constantly touching things like:

      – Our computers
      – Our nice, varnished wooden desks, tables, chairs, whatever. (Modern varnish is full of glues and other icky chemicals)
      – Things in our houses and buildings in general

      I don’t know all of which chemicals are in these things, and what effects they have via skin contact

      (or being breathed in, or a number of other methods of affecting our health like unintended low-level ingestion due to presence on our hands?)

      To wax philosophical…

      I know that everyone focuses on a few things: often bedding, clothing, and the food that goes into our system,

      …but there’s a whole world out there that we’re living in —

      the air we breathe, and all the chemical products that have made their way into our lives over the past few decades: manufactured “deodorants”, scented “soaps,” the myriad cleaning products and pesticides that inhabit the spaces under kitchen and bathroom sinks… even what we build our houses with, from the treated lumber to the paints and drywall.

      It’s not just some far-off residue in the oceans, or some one-off thing in a particular product you buy: myriad chemicals that weren’t here 50 years ago are everywhere in your daily life now.

      And, I keep discovering more of how we’re not regarding these interactions with all these new chemicals with rigor and awareness.

      They’ve brought lots of benefits and problems into our lives. (and, there are definitely benefits, but most people seem so unaware of the potential costs, and even how much chemical they’re dealing with on a regular basis…

      A “package” is just a… “package” to most people. Taken at face value. So’s a “household cleaner” or “air freshener” or “natural food” — but we consider so little of the way things are now, and the alternatives to the chemicals we use.

      Many of these chemicals haven’t been tested for long periods, or at all (as with, say, the perfume industry not being required to disclose or prove safety for its ingredients), and short-term assays show all sorts of potential damage from them — crossing the blood-brain barrier, estrogen-mimicking… a number of things that throw off how our bodies have evolved to function.

      That said, it’s complicated — there are certainly many more choices that I’m probably not aware of as far as changing my environment and living my life differently, but there are also 7+ billion other people in the world, and many of them are currently continuing to fill the Earth with more chemicals.

      It’s a complex question to ask:

      What’s an appropriate way to live one’s life given the preponderance of likelihood that many of these chemicals are damaging, and large control over our own lives, but little over the other 7+ billion, many of whom are likely to continue chugging along filling our lives, products, and wilderness with them?

      I can understand why many people tend to brush off the overall chemical-soup we live in as fine and normal — it’s much more difficult to consider questions like the above one with a picture of likely ongoing harm to everyone’s health, at the same time as the overwhelming ubiquity of the chemicals in our modern industry.

      Of course, given the wider awareness of and attention to blogs like this and even things like or ancestral/traditional diet & lifestyle, I do hope that the world will continue to somehow shift towards combining health with wanting a “modern lifestyle”.

      December 22nd, 2014 7:33 pm Reply
  • Alex Lewin

    +1 on bidet

    September 21st, 2013 4:22 pm Reply
  • Darwin

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    July 23rd, 2013 11:34 am Reply
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  • Ashley

    The recycled toilet paper is the only paper that I haven’t had an allergic reaction to that makes me sneeze, cough and itch even if I’m breaking off a square and the little fibers go airborne. That being said, I’m assuming there are a load of chemicals and bleaches in the virgin toilet paper to give it its pristine white and fluffy texture. I’d rather listen to my body and stick with the slightly less processed version even if its not perfect.

    April 20th, 2013 7:35 pm Reply
    • Carol

      I so agree with you!

      March 15th, 2015 1:55 am Reply
    • Daisy

      Ashley I agree with you. I like recycled papers better as well, they feel better, and they seem to have less toxins in them than the other paper products that were made from clear cutting forests. Ethics feels a whole lot better. This anti recycling blog sounds a bit like “Brought to you by Pacific Lumber.”

      A whole lot needs to be reformed. We need to have companies that produce paper products from grasses, leaves, bamboo, garden clippings etc. Tree free stuff and processed with Sodium Bentonite instead of toxic binding substances. We need companies to do this so that other companies will be forced to do it as well due to customer demand. All conventional paper products have toxins in them so far and that is unethical. Recycled paper products have less toxins in them because the toxins had been washed out. They also use oxygen bleach which is safe.

      July 25th, 2015 12:59 am Reply
  • naturemom

    I just found toilet paper made from bamboo & sugar cane at Walgreen’s store. I like it a lot & wondered if anyone has information about this product.

    April 20th, 2013 10:27 am Reply
    • Sharon

      I heard that bamboo can be high in formaldehyde. Sometimes it is hard to determine which way to go and what battles to pick.

      April 20th, 2013 12:43 pm Reply
  • JV

    The research that you’re quoting from says very specifically that BPA exposure from paper contact is trivial for the general population.

    Advocating for people to return to “virgin pulp” sources is absolutely absurd. Thanks for your awful and useless interpretation of the data.

    March 20th, 2013 8:20 pm Reply
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  • scuba89

    There is a brand of BPA-free toilet paper called Bum Boosa. I have been using it for a while due to its eco-friendly properties. Instead of being made from trees, it is made from bamboo, which is a lot more sustainable. The toilet paper is made from 100% bamboo processed with the mechanical pulping method. It is tree-free, biodegradable, BPA-free, elemental chlorine-free and it breaks down quickly. Even the packaging is made from recycled paper. I find that it is really soft and the paper is thick, so it doesn’t tear easily. The best part is that they plant a tree for every 4 rolls sold.

    November 5th, 2012 4:47 pm Reply
    • Daisy

      Thank you so much for this good information. I will buy Bum Boosa. I was looking for something like that. :0)

      July 25th, 2015 1:02 am Reply
  • Shanna White

    Thanks for this information. I never knew that recycled toilet paper could not be good.

    October 29th, 2012 8:03 pm Reply
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  • Michael Fallarme

    The choice really depends on how you will use it. Both virgin pulp and recycled pulp have their own advantages and disadvantages. You might want to check on this infographics ( ) to find out more. Cheers!

    September 18th, 2012 10:39 pm Reply
  • Michael Fallarme

    The choice really depends on how you will use it. Both virgin pulp and recycled pulp have their own advantages and disadvantages. You might want to check on this infographics for more info. Cheers!

    September 18th, 2012 10:37 pm Reply
  • Irvine Chiropractor

    Uh Oh! I planned getting those recycled papers. Thanks for posting this. It’s better to be safe than sorry. What types of paper towels, tissues, wet wipes would you recommend? Thanks

    September 16th, 2012 11:02 am Reply
    • Janel

      Irene – you may want to read Erin’s large comment above. She read the scientific paper(s) and has a better analysis of what the studies actually said.

      September 16th, 2012 12:14 pm Reply
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  • Okiemomx2

    I have really enjoyed this website however what I haven’t enjoyed is tendency of some people on the forum to rip each other apart because they disagree on a issue. Don’t spoil a good thing with immature behavior. If someone gets snippy with you, ignore them, don’t stoop to their level. Have confident in your own believes and move on.

    September 16th, 2012 12:36 am Reply
  • Cassandra Mayer via Facebook

    So does this mean that the Seventh Generation toilet paper I purchase isn’t good???? I don’t know what else to do?

    September 15th, 2012 11:53 pm Reply
  • Okiemmomx2

    I hope this isn’t a stupid question but when you use a bidet does some of the dirty water fall back on the bidet?

    September 15th, 2012 2:19 am Reply
  • Lola

    Sorry… should say I have read the abstracts not the whole articles.

    September 14th, 2012 7:06 pm Reply
  • Lola

    Have just read all the posts now and have had access to the articles. They don’t seem to say that recycled toilet paper is a problem. At least that’s how I read it. However, if you don’t want to use it and have a preference for what you think is best to use, then just use it. Fantastic debate here. Great to hear all the different points of view.

    September 14th, 2012 7:05 pm Reply
  • Angela Lynn Wolfe via Facebook

    What is really gross is wiping your private areas with paper. Would you do the same with your hands, heck no you would wash with water!

    September 14th, 2012 9:43 am Reply
  • Angela Lynn Wolfe via Facebook

    You do not need to install an expensive bidet, get a plastic squirt bottle and get some pretty washclothes to dry with. THINK.

    September 14th, 2012 9:42 am Reply
  • Kiya Tabb via Facebook

    ARGH! It seems that we can never escape the chemicals!!! I’ve been buying BPA-free, but now that you’ve posted this article, it only makes sense that they would simply be replacing it with some other toxic junk. So what is the answer? Boycott plastics altogether? What else is BPA/BPS in other than plastics? I would have never guessed paper products.

    September 14th, 2012 9:24 am Reply
  • JMR

    Well, thank you for the information. But for me, there’s only so much healthy stuff I’m willing to do. I’m not too concerned with whether I use recycled paper or virgin paper, but I’ll still be using toilet paper, BPA or no. I’ve traveled extensively and had opportunity to use all different types of toilets, bidets, and paper around the world. I’ll stick with regular old U.S. toilet paper. Cloth is so repulsive it turns my stomach even to think about it. I do my part for the planet by accumulating only one tiny bag of trash every 2-3 months, and most of that is recycled. The planet will survive just fine, too; I’ve never been in any doubt about that. God designed it to support and sustain us. And we need to cut down a few more trees in this country…the state of forest management is disturbing.

    September 14th, 2012 7:53 am Reply
  • Susan Irwin

    Move to bidets! They are awesome and you can buy amazing products that fit right on to your toilet.

    September 13th, 2012 10:58 pm Reply
  • Marian Scantzos Robitzer via Facebook

    Hi Sarah – Thank you for this information. Do you think the same applies to brown recycled napkins, like 7th Generation’s? Thanks!

    September 13th, 2012 10:03 pm Reply
  • juliette

    ok, i bought a bidet today, anyone have any opinions? ‘family cloth’ will just not happen in my house for various reasons, but I love bidets so there you have it.

    September 13th, 2012 7:03 pm Reply
  • Elizabeth Anne via Facebook

    I want to switch to peri bottle or diaper sprayer for poops, and then dry with cloth. Hubby still claims it’s “gross”. *sigh*

    September 13th, 2012 5:48 pm Reply
  • Lola

    It would be great to read those two studies. Can you supply more information so I can read them?


    September 13th, 2012 5:42 pm Reply
  • Nicole Toole via Facebook

    Who knew?

    September 13th, 2012 5:39 pm Reply
  • Isabell Norman via Facebook

    I wonder, does that have to do with the paper being bleached, white, soft? what is with the old style toilet-paper they still have in Germany? It’s also made with recycled paper and it’s grey, not very soft, some think it’s kinda rough but I never had a issue with it. Maybe the solution would be to have old fashioned toilet paper, unbleached. Maybe that paper has no BPA? Trying to understand why BPA is in the paper, in what part of the manufacturing process. I never understood that paper which goes down the toilet needs to be so soft and white. all you do with it, is wipe yourself.

    September 13th, 2012 4:36 pm Reply
  • Bill

    Folks, don’t worry about the planet being “deforested”, at least not here in the US where we use an abundance of paper, including that for our backsides. There is more timber in the US now than 100 years ago due to improvements in agriculture that grows more food on less land than 100 years ago (then, all cleared land to grow their own); and the fact that we have improvements in forest management that allows us to grow more timber per acre than ever before. (If you are convinced that global warming is a reality; the increased nightime temperatures and increased atmospheric CO2 should result in even greater forest growth rates!) With the downturn of the housing market in 2007; and the decline in the need for new homes, it is estimated that the available sawtimber in the Southeast alone will double by 2020 even if we have an economic turnaround right now and return to the peak harvest levels of 2008. You want to talk about recycling, timberland is recycled generation after generation. I have been a forester for 25 years and have seen trees that I planted myself being thinned in the next rotation.

    September 13th, 2012 4:12 pm Reply
    • JV

      Dear Bill,

      You are on drugs. Deforestation is a global issue. South America, Africa and Asia called to tell you that stagnation in North American deforestation rates can go fly a kite.

      With love,

      March 20th, 2013 8:31 pm Reply
    • Veronica

      Global warming is real, first off. Secondly, by recycling one ton of toilet paper you save 17 trees, 6953 gallons of water, 463 gallons of oil, 587 pounds of air pollution,3.06 cubic yards of landfill space, and 4077 Kilowatt hours of energy. I think it’s better to be careful and sustainable with resources rather than assume they are never ending and deplete them until we have no planet left.

      January 26th, 2015 8:30 pm Reply
  • Patricia Logan Snyder via Facebook

    Why use trees? What about bamboo or hemp for paper?

    September 13th, 2012 3:47 pm Reply
    • Brian

      A not insignificant portion of the population is allergic to hemp, a very strong fiber which does not break down easily- so that makes it a pretty poor material for disposable or even reusable toilet paper. As for bamboo, which is not a woody, pulpable tree but a fibrous grass, I think the word “splinters” covers that fairly well.

      September 13th, 2012 7:55 pm Reply
      • Karen

        You seriously think there are splinters in bamboo toilet paper?

        September 3rd, 2013 6:32 am Reply
  • D.

    Cloth wipes, just like cloth baby diapers, are not the answer either. They have to be washed, sometimes multiple times and if they aren’t really really clean, you’ve got bacteria to worry about.

    Why don’t we stop all the hysteria and just use 1 ply toilet paper. It solves lots of problems because it literally disintegrates when it hits the water. You can use three times as much paper and still not plug up the plumbing because it just sorta melts away. It’s not usually made with BPA or BPS, check the label or the packaging. All the treehuggers just make me giggle because trees can be replanted – anywhere. I agree that cutting down rainforests is a horrid idea, but using something different than toilet paper isn’t really going to change what those companies are doing.

    Also, think about what happens when you have diarrhea. You’re gonna use cloth wipes?? I can understand using some water or whatever but I’m just not up to handling cloth wipes. =8-o

    September 13th, 2012 2:55 pm Reply
  • Stanley Fishman

    Wow. It is getting to seem that just about everything is full of dangerous chemicals. This is valuable knowledge to have. Thanks again, Sarah. You put Paul Revere to shame!

    September 13th, 2012 2:33 pm Reply
  • Becky Gutcher Hyatt via Facebook

    the words “recycled” and “toilet paper” should never be used together. EVER. LOL

    September 13th, 2012 2:01 pm Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    I guess the people of Cuba have inadvertently had it good all these years as I’ve been told that each family is issued only 1 roll of TP per year! Don’t know if this is still true, but it used to be apparently.

    September 13th, 2012 1:55 pm Reply
  • Victoria Kotler via Facebook

    good ol’ gentle soap and water will save you the worries.

    September 13th, 2012 1:29 pm Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    There are some unbleached brands you can find.

    September 13th, 2012 1:25 pm Reply
  • Danielle

    What about Seventh Generation’s recycled facial tissue?

    September 13th, 2012 1:23 pm Reply
  • Janel

    Frankly, this is blog post is an example of poor journalism. The author didn’t read any of the study that was referenced and merely repeated what some other organization posted without any citations from the study.

    For the record, the study paper we’re talking about here is this one: “Widespread Occurrence of Bisphenol A in Paper and Paper Products: Implications for Human Exposure.” (Found here: ) I don’t have the money to purchase the article to read, but I can read the abstract for free. The second to last sentence in the abstract says the following:

    “The daily intake of BPA (calculated from median concentrations) through dermal absorption from handling of papers was 17.5 and 1300 ng/day for the general population and occupationally exposed individuals, respectively; these values are minor compared with exposure through diet.”

    Read that again – that last part: THESE VALUES ARE MINOR COMPARED WITH EXPOSURE THROUGH DIET. In other words, this blog post is scaring people from using recycled toilet paper without quantifying what risks – whether miniscule or great – there are in using recycled TP, and according to the study’s authors, these risks are “minor” compared with getting BPA through food that you eat!

    Further, here is the associated scientific paper on BPS: “Bisphenol S, a New Bisphenol Analogue, in Paper Products and Currency Bills and Its Association with Bisphenol A Residues” ( Again, I can’t afford paying for the article, but the abstract is available for free. And in this abstract, a graph is provided. And in that graph, it’s pretty clear that toilet paper is down near zero for BPS concentration. There’s not really even a range at all like some of the other paper types – including paper currencies! Now why is this article not encouraging people to swear off cash?!?

    So, great, this article has scared people off of using recycled toilet paper, which we all know staves off the deforestry of virgin forests, many of which these days are rain forest in southeast Asia, and it does nothing to educate people on any ACTUAL risks of BPA/BPS exposure with data. Just repeats someone else’s “Hey, there might be some chemicals in this product! Better not use it, OR ELSE!”

    September 13th, 2012 1:04 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Exposure to these estrogen mimicking chemicals in our environment is cumulative and the skin in the nether areas is particularly delicate and thin and VERY close to the reproductive organs (remember that many breast tumors contain parabens likely from underarm products) … and you’re using toilet paper every single day multiple times each day. Not a good choice in my opinion. If you can easily reduce exposure by not using recycled paper and finding another method be it a bidet, virgin pulp or otherwise, that is a wise choice.

      September 13th, 2012 2:52 pm Reply
      • Janel

        You’re just proving my point. You didn’t read the studies. You don’t really know what they said. You’re just basing your post on hypotheticals. You’re not doing anyone any good by just throwing this out there without knowing the the studies actually claim! It’s journalism like this that is partly to blame for why people think low fat foods are inherently good for you.

        If you use cash, you’re touching paper products with far higher levels of BPS than toilet paper, and you use your hands for everything! Including wiping your tush! Yet you’re not decrying the use of cash! Yes, estrogen mimicking chemicals is cumulative, but as the graph in the study showed for BPS – you’re not really gettting any in toilet paper. Of course, you would know this if you actually looked at the abstract for the paper, but you didn’t. You just went ahead and wrote, “OMG, no more recycled TP for me! Here’s why!” without checking any facts.

        It’s rather unfortunate that you are now decrying the use of recycled paper products without knowing any facts of any potential dangers they may have OR not because your post is based on nothing other than hyperbole. Any good argument can stand on the merits of its data, yet you have given NONE to back up your claims.

        You kinda owe it to your readers to do the research BEFORE you write. Otherwise, you are doing them a disservice.

        September 13th, 2012 4:22 pm Reply
      • Brian

        Also, this fallacious concept of “very close to the reproductive organs” should probably be addressed- your rectum and- for those who own one- your vagina are not “very close” to your ovaries, which produce estrogen. Your vagina, while thin-skinned and partially membranous, is located about as far away from your ovaries as your stomach and small intestine. It also contains acidic mucus designed to destroy bacteria, and invasive materials/chemicals, albeit with a relative modicum of efficiency. The food you eat, and the constant contact your entire dermis has with clothes/air/vapors/paper/etc provides a significantly greater inroad for chemicals than the short, incidental exposure you receive when wiping with a bit of TP. Relative proximity doesn’t really have anything to do with anything- if an estrogen-mimicking hormones enters your bloodstream, it enters your bloodstream- after that, it doesn’t exactly matter, now does it? Hence why implanted birth control chemicals are put in the arm and they work just fine.

        September 13th, 2012 7:51 pm Reply
        • Sam Z.

          She addressed that in a comment above. And, if you think she reads all these comments, you’re dreaming. She wouldn’t have time to go to the bathroom if she did.

          September 14th, 2012 6:51 pm Reply
    • Janel

      Oliver – We will have to respectfully disagree. Whether you like it or not, blogging is a form of modern journalism. Just because she is a “mom with a blog” instead of a writer employed at the NY Times, does not change that fact. In this article/post, she was clearly writing to inform, yet she didn’t do any research on what she was informing us of. Criticizing poor writing – or journalism, for that matter – goes with the territory of putting your writing out there. People criticize things on the NYTimes or Washington Post all the time, so me criticizing this post is really no different.

      After I read this blog post and before I commented on this post, I googled the journal that was cited, looked up the papers for the name of the researcher that was cited in the article that Sarah cited, and looked at the abstracts. Was that so hard? No. But it’s pretty clear she didn’t even do that. Because with what did she respond to my initial comment? Did she say, “Hey, actually, this is legit. I read the papers and x, y, and z…”? No. She responded with saying she didn’t think is was a good idea to put such TP near your va-jay-jay. Reader Brian has pointed out that that comment is useless because it’s the concentration of BPA in your blood that matters, and it doesn’t really matter from which part of your body it access your bloodstream.

      Personally, I read GOSSIP bloggers who check their sources more than she did with this article. And to be honest, that’s really what this article is – it’s no better than gossip yet it’s masquerading as something that’s informing people. It’s really no different than someone who runs a Jennifer Aniston fan blog, citing some article that said she allegedly was a b*tch to Brad Pitt when they were married and saying, “I don’t know about you, but I know that I’ll be better off from here on out watching Angelina Jolie flicks instead.”

      And I think that it’s an apt comparison. If you look at some of the other comments to this post, they’re thanking Sarah for informing them that recycled TP is so toxic, yet from the abstracts of the articles, that’s not entirely clear. And it’s unfair to the readers that assumed she read the articles due to citing the name of the journal to not specify that she hasn’t actually read the studies.

      The abstract says that 15 paper types were looked at for BPA, and more than 98% of the BPA exposure (which, again, was calculated to be 17.5 ng/day for the general population) came from thermal receipt papers. Which means that the remaining LESS than 2 percent came from the remaining 14 paper types COMBINED. That doesn’t look to me like much toxicity at all from TP. But, again, that’s because I at least reference the sources instead of just spouting off gossip.

      September 13th, 2012 11:09 pm Reply
      • Jessica

        This is less about “pushing for a pulitzer” than having respect for readers. My friend notified me about this post, so that’s why I came here. I read what was written in Sarah’s post above and then read most of the 100+ comments yesterday.

        Basically, everyone read the post and started freaking out about not being able to use toilet paper and what other options should they start considering. One person points out that the original post is in error, backs it up with substantiation, and the writer of this blog, Sarah, blew it off apparently. There is no update on her post saying that perhaps she misread something because if you look at the actual study, as mentioned above, it doesn’t support what she said above. I’ve seen plenty of other bloggers around the web update their original posts when presented with new information so that errors like these don’t continue to circulate.

        Things like this are why lots of bloggers, activists, etc., are often derided by the media. I’d buy the “mom with a blog” line a little bit more if I didn’t get a pop-up ad when I clicked on this site. This writer is making money off this blog; it’s clearly not just a hobby. After seeing how so many people got worked up over much ado about nothing, I’m not sure why anyone can take this writer seriously about anything.

        September 14th, 2012 11:54 am Reply
    • Erin

      I accessed the BPA article (Liao 2011) using my university login and read the whole thing. After doing so, I have a few comments:
      – Yes, the article says that BPA was found in a wide variety of paper products, including toilet paper. It also says that BPA can be found in household dust. But by far the highest concentrations are found in thermal paper (receipts, train/lottery tickets, magazine flyers, etc). The article also provided data on estimated daily intake of BPA from various paper products. In regards to both concentration and intake, toilet paper was a comparatively low BPA risk. The products compared were newspapers, thermal receipts, flyers, magazines, business cards, paper towels, napkins, printing paper, airline luggage tags, airline boarding passes, food cartons, food contact papers, and mailing envelopes. The mean estimated daily intake from toilet paper was 0.0027 ng/day. The total mean daily intake from dermal exposure to paper products was 12.5 ng/day. 98.6% of exposure was due to receipts. Another way of saying this is that dermal intake via toilet paper makes up 0.216% of the average person’s total daily dermal intake. When food exposure is taken into account, this percentage will be much, much less.

      – The blog post above says that the source of BPA in thermal paper is not known, but speculates it is due to the recycled content. This is incorrect. BPA is purposefully added to thermal paper to make it have certain properties. It is estimated that 30% of thermal paper ends up in recycling streams. The article speculates that this thermal paper is the main source of BPA in recycled papers. So a key takeaway here is to not put thermal paper in the paper recycling.

      – It should be noted that the article does NOT compare exposures or content between virgin vs. recycled papers. It says that “most” of the paper products tested were made from recycled paper. The article cites a Danish study (Vinggaard et a. 2000) that found that recycled paper towel had more BPA than paper towel from virgin sources, but that the virgin paper was also mildly estrogenic due to the presence of a paraben.

      After reading this study closely, I’m not going to switch from recycled toilet paper. Yes, it’s troublesome that BPA and other harmful chemicals are ubiquitous in our environment, and I would support further study into how different kinds of exposure to BPA affect our health. But to me, the main takeaways from this article are several: 1) I’m going to make an effort to avoid thermal paper, especially receipts, when possible 2) I’m going to tell the members of my household not to recycle thermal paper and 3) I’m going to have an eye out for efforts to redesign recycling systems to remove thermal paper (or the BPA from finished recycled products). Supporting change at the recycling/production level seems to be the most sustainable option, and most potentially effective in the big picture. The weight of the scientific evidence connecting virgin paper products to unsustainable forestry practices is quite clear, while the available data seems to say that toilet paper and other non-thermal paper products have a minute (but in my opinion negligible) amount of BPA, which constitutes an unknown health risk. Everyone has to make their own choices about acceptable risk, but personally, I think that calling for lifestyle change based on something that makes up less than a quarter of a percent of an average person’s daily exposure to BPA is unreasonable.

      If anyone has any questions about what is in the article, let me know and I can try to find it. I’d love to just copy-paste the whole thing, but I don’t want to get on the bad side of the academic journals :)

      Hope that helps!

      September 15th, 2012 1:04 am Reply
      • Janel

        Erin – Thanks for sharing more details on the studies. That virgin TP might not necessarily be better is something I suspected since such a comparison between recycled and non-recycled papers was outside the scope of the studies.

        September 16th, 2012 12:11 pm Reply
        • Lisa Frolova

          Erin, thank you so much for your effort to make it clear. Your comment shows how the article should have been written in the first place!!!!!!!!

          May 6th, 2013 3:59 am Reply
      • Lisa Frolova

        Oh yes, I have a question!
        Do these studies provide any information on paper coffee-cups and paper food-wraps regarding the amount of BPA/BPS?
        Would that be the way to the direct intake of those chemicals?
        And by chance, do you know, if plastic water bottles contain BPA? What plastic types contain BPA? Is in every plastic thing?
        Thanks again!!
        I wish all the blogers would be so clear and would know what they are talking about!

        May 6th, 2013 4:37 am Reply
  • Veronica Tilden via Facebook

    What about the chlorine used to whiten toilet paper?

    September 13th, 2012 1:03 pm Reply
  • Mie Thorsoe


    Very interesting, does this go for the regular paper as well? In my company, we are using recycled paper for all the printing stuff.

    September 13th, 2012 1:00 pm Reply
  • CCM

    Maybe we just need to avoid toxic medications and processed foods, eat a proper WAP diet (rich in raw animal fats and proteins, seafood, high omega3:omega6, properly prepared plant foods) and then trust the detoxification mechanisms in our bodies – liver, kidneys, immune system – to do the rest. Weston A. Price found primitive groups who breathed toxic smoke who were perfectly healthy. The Scottish Gaelic tribes lived in thatched-roof houses with no chimneys, burned peat fires inside for cooking and heat – Dr. Price described the black, smoke-filled air of those homes. He found they had perfect health and happy dispositions: no cavities, no tuberculosis, no cancer, no degenerative disease, and no mental illness.

    September 13th, 2012 12:43 pm Reply
    • Sam Z.

      You’re crazy Oliver. I’ve been reading your excessive comments over the past couple of weeks and you are clearly a head case. Go get a job, a girlfriend, play videogames ANYTHING. You’re a blog stalking zombie. Get a life.

      September 13th, 2012 2:25 pm Reply
    • Olivia

      First, I get overwhelmed, reading something like this. Then I move on to think just what you wrote. I agree with you..

      September 20th, 2012 12:04 am Reply
  • Robin

    Just call me cheap, but I’ve always hated the idea of buying something that you would be flushing down the toilet or throwing in the trash. I started making my own baby wipes when my little one was 8 months old and have been doing it since (approximately 4 years). Everybody in my family uses these “wipeys” except the hubby (can’t quite convince him that it cleans better). Also, I use cut up old t-shirts for napkins/paper towels in the kitchen and anytime somebody needs a tissue (much nicer to the nose also). I wash all of these in with my towels and hang them out in the sun to dry.

    September 13th, 2012 12:33 pm Reply
  • Tabbetha Kae Carlson via Facebook

    I love my “Family Cloth”…

    September 13th, 2012 12:31 pm Reply
  • p

    Okay, I think the best solution is a bidet (makeshift, add-on or otherwise) and an organic unbleached cloth wipe.

    All paper is treated with incredibly harsh and very toxic chemicals, and there is hardly any paper that does NOT have BPA or BPS in it.

    But cloth is also manufactured in an industrial process using lots of harsh chemicals, dyes, and sometimes sizing, The cotton crop is also one of the most heavily treated with pesticides. Best to get unbleached, organic cotton…

    and further there is the issue of chloramine in the tap water, the indiscriminate killer of bacteria, good and bad alike. Even better to have a water purification system through the whole house.

    It’s tough to stay alive in an industrialized world, but you have to do the best you can. And to tell the truth I don’t do all of the things I mentioned, but we’re working our way there slowly but surely.

    September 13th, 2012 11:37 am Reply
  • Missina

    Ya, I’m surprised people are actually still using toilet paper. We have had our bidet seat attachment for a few years now, and it just makes so much sense! You feel so clean and fresh.

    September 13th, 2012 11:37 am Reply
  • Howard C. Gray via Facebook

    Time to get a beday.

    September 13th, 2012 11:35 am Reply
  • Justicia Bear via Facebook

    well I use regular toilet paper, but not much of it. As a Muslim woman, I regularly use water to clean myself (with my left hand :)) after going to the bathroom. It allows much more of the filth to be removed. You don’t have to go and get a bidet, although you can do that if you want. Many Muslims just keep a watering can/water bottle on the floor next to the toilet and fill it up before going to the bathroom and we use it to clean ourselves and we also use toilet paper, but because of the water, we use much less. then we wash our hands thoroughly! If you don’t want to use tp, clean yourself with water (and maybe some gentle soap if you want) and you can towel dry. 😛

    September 13th, 2012 11:32 am Reply
    • MSA

      I agree. Most Muslims I know, including my family, have never gotten a UTI in their life.

      September 13th, 2012 3:53 pm Reply
  • Peggy Hass Grimins via Facebook

    We use “family cloth”. I bought wash clothes at the dollar store for 50 cents a piece. We picked one color different from anything else we have so that we never mix them up with any of our other wash cloths. We keep them in a wet bag that hangs where the toilet paper roll should be. We have very hot water and I don’t worry about pathogens. Our cloth diapers always come out clean as well. Honestly, a bidet isn’t even really necessary. You get less “mess” on the cloth than you would if you use cloth wipes with cloth diapers. It’s not like you sit in your “mess”. A quick cold rinse before washing and then wash on hot with detergent.

    September 13th, 2012 11:28 am Reply
  • Karen Vaughan

    For several years, at my gynecologist’s suggestion I have used a toilet seat bidet which brings my TP use to about nil. There are several brands: the Toto Washlet is the best known but I have an obscure Korean brand that cost about $100 on ebay. Instead of using paper, I turn on a small stream that washes my nether regions with no BPA or other endnocrine disruptors. We are a lot cleaner, can even space out showers in lieu of a pit wash and face wash, and less water is used than in the manufacture of toilet paper. You can get warm water or a reservoir that brings water to room temperature or cold. I have also seen a kitchen spray hose attached at the side of the toilet with a T joint, for around $10. Frankly I hate traveling without it.

    September 13th, 2012 11:17 am Reply
    • Leah

      I take a peri-bottle when I travel :)

      September 13th, 2012 1:23 pm Reply
  • Courtney Rebovich via Facebook

    Thanks for sharing. Did not wondering if it is my regular kind as well…

    September 13th, 2012 11:09 am Reply
  • Jennifer Buckles via Facebook

    thinking i will just cut up old shirts and go rhe cloth route….geeeeezzzzz! we cannot win!

    September 13th, 2012 11:08 am Reply
  • Cedar Rose Guelberth via Facebook

    What to do? Most toilet paper these days are manufactured using recycled post consumer content, they just don’t advertise it. Additionally, most conventional manufacturers use chlorine as a bleach which poses a whole bunch of other issues for body absorption via delicate body parts, including chemical exposure to dioxins. Wish I had a good answer…

    September 13th, 2012 11:05 am Reply
  • Me

    Great article. I’m not surprised though. Once I learned “food” manufacturers were putting poison in their products for children to consume I knew nothing those types of corp.’s offered could be trusted.

    September 13th, 2012 11:04 am Reply
  • Rene Whitehurst via Facebook

    The region I live in grows the cottonwood hybrids used for paper products. Our land is pretty flat with “forests” of these trees as far as you can see, growing in perfect rows. I always thought this was a great idea until researching it a little. Now I find out these trees are GM and render other crops grown close to them sterile. We just can’t win!

    Another round up ready crop:—00Jan164pdf.aspx

    Looks like it’s time for a bidet.

    September 13th, 2012 11:04 am Reply
  • Brian

    “The term “safe chemical” is kind of an oxymoron so if something uses chemicals, just assume they are toxic unless proven otherwise.”

    This is meant as some sort of elaborate joke, right? Salt is chemicals. Water is chemicals. “Natural” soaps are made from wood-based lye (sodium hydroxide) and animal tallow. The glue prehistoric man used to attach stone points to spear shafts is a monomer chain derived from wood sap that can, GASP!, irritate some people’s skin. Any paper, or cloth, is treated with several chemicals to bleach, stabilize, clean, and dye it. If you’re seriously concerned about exposure to chemicals, there is always the deep vacuum of intergalactic space, but you run the risk of slamming into a particle or two hydrogen now and then, so the only truly safe alternative is to just GET OVER IT.

    September 13th, 2012 11:03 am Reply
    • Oliver

      And speaking of intergalacitc space and toilet paper – what did Spock find in the Enterprise bathroom?
      The Captain’s log! I had a late night :(

      September 13th, 2012 11:09 am Reply
    • Leah

      Thank you for pointing that out! This is a huge beef of mine. I used to point it out all the time, but no one seems to care. I brought it up in another article of Sarah’s recently, and several people defended the fact that “natural” things were not chemicals.

      September 13th, 2012 1:21 pm Reply
    • Peter

      Exactly. That’s the line where I stopped reading and came down to the comments. There are far more safe chemicals than unsafe ones… 71% of the earth’s surface is covered with a safe chemical that’s sometimes called salt water.

      September 14th, 2012 11:19 am Reply
      • Xin

        I understand this beef, along with the beef that those chemicals which ARE harmful to us are harmful in differing ways, to differing degrees.

        That said, I tend to see that the preponderance of evidence shows unawareness of how ubiquitous — and how many different — chemicals are in everything.

        I also find it logical that there could be issues with many of the manmade substances that have emerged in that last decades.

        The testing for human health effects is often very short with these items. 90 days? A few months? Rarely 1-3 years. Sometimes not at all, depending on field.

        It’s entirely plausible that many of these contribute to long-term health problems, especially given that they’re not often developed with long-term human health in mind, but rather efficacy for some other use: often industrial or cosmetic.

        And it’s entirely plausible, given the general increase of things like chronic and autoimmune illnesses in developed areas, that these are a “developed area” factor.

        Other comments have pointed out the other chemicals in toilet paper, like dioxin and chlorine bleach.

        I think that people tend to have a bad risk-analysis with these new products. There is certainly a lot of benefit (or sometimes just perceived convenience) to many of these modern things (I suspect, say, more wide and cheap availability of paper to have contributed to how we approach knowledge now)… but it’s honestly more likely that these substances will end up being harmful somehow, especially in the long term.

        We are only 1-2 generations into having such an exponential growth in manmade chemicals — it’s entirely plausible that the long-term effects could be uncertain, and there is certainly a rise in chronic health issues (or other things like developmental delays & mental “illnesses” (issues? malfunctions?) )

        That said, I think that some people use “chemical” in a more aware, colloquial capacity to mean “a chemical toxic to man,” usually with some form of “not something humans have evolved being exposed to”.

        So, I think there’s so degree of colloquial use.

        … even putting aside the preponderance of risk being on the explosion of new chemicals that we have not evolved with,

        …and issues of inaccurate assessments of whether common levels contribute to quality-of-life/health issues…

        …and issues of a wide distribution of sensitivity and resilience among the population (how resilient were the subjects upon which the guidelines were based? Is the “average” level of BPA detrimental to health?)

        …and issues of understanding pathways of effect on human health (due to a number of things — undiscovered pathways, poorly constructed studies, poor theory, ongoing development of higher threshholds of sensitivity in our science…)

        The whole conversation of how and whether and how much [chemicals new to man] adversely impact the population (or just a % of it) … and then what to do about that … is actually a really complex one. (“new” being within the last 50-200-ish years of industrialization, but mostly within the last …70?)

        December 22nd, 2014 8:03 pm Reply
  • Oliver

    It can get to be a very paranoid world we live in. As much as i am a proponent or raw, is virgin fiber really good for our bums? Is it truly raw hemp, fiber, from trees, untreated? Do we really want to be wiping our butts with this untreated product that might have still living micro organisms affixed to the fiber content? Each and every plant has natural toxins. And what about the dye used is some organic paper? What about our cloths we are inclined to use. Are they not all treated in the factory before being made into shirts or socks or whatever. So much to consider.
    I consider that there is less fresh, clean, water on this earth than there are trees, Washing our reusable cloths will still have some impact on the planet. What to do what to do. If only to know the secrets of early man…

    September 13th, 2012 10:58 am Reply
    • Brian

      So true- I wish I’d seen your comment before I posted mine below, you’re right on Oliver. Nothing is safe, everything is relative. Nature is, in fact, a startlingly deadly place filled with complex chemicals and dangerous substances that are present in the air, the water, the soil, and in plants and animals. While I agree that our modern dependence on disposable materials and human-derived substances is wasteful and can certainly be harmful, a little perspective on human history and the nature of the world goes a long way in putting those evils in their proper place. The Mol scale of chemical content in human blood reveals hormones, especially sex hormones, to be some of the most concentrated substances in our body- I highly doubt the combined SECONDS of exposure to BPA received in a day from wiping one’s privy area is going to do anyone much harm. I can’t believe anyone thinks scrubbing used linen coated in fecal matter and caustic lye-saponified animal fats is better than a piece of paper- which, if some of these folks read their history books would know, has been in use as a toiletry aid since ANCIENT times by the Mesopotamians and Chinese.

      September 13th, 2012 11:15 am Reply
    • Leah

      I agree with your comment Oliver. I know this isn’t your point but I just wanted to respond to one thing that you said, that seems to be a belief of many. It may be true that there is less clean water than trees, I don’t really know how to quantify that. However, LOTS of water is used in processing paper products. That is something that people always seem to overlook when they talk about the water usage of reusable cloth… It seems as though there is a belief that disposable products don’t use (or use less) water, and that couldn’t be less true. We (the consumers) just don’t wittiness the water usage.

      September 13th, 2012 1:18 pm Reply
  • Trisha

    We’ve used cloth wipes for several years. I cut up a flannel sheet (bought new in the package at a yard sale), sewed them into double layers to make them nice (unnecessary, but nice). We love them and consider paper “barbaric” LOL
    I hate to buy anything that is designed to be thrown away. So we use cloth in place of all disposable paper…facial tissue (Kleenex) is old t-shirts cut up (soon to be nice hankies for myself that I will make using a white sheet), paper towels are replaced with worn out wash rags or hand towels. For really yucky messes, I will use the most stained or worn out rag and toss it in the garbage when I am done with no guilt. If you compost, you can throw cotton cloths into the compost pile too. I just never remember that at the time.

    September 13th, 2012 10:55 am Reply
  • Judith

    This has got me interested in switching to cloth. I used cloth diapers with my son (now grown) and usually wiped him with cloth, so family cloth wipes make sense. For those who have been doing this, a few questions:

    Do you make double-layer cloths? What cloth do you prefer? Do you always sew the edges?

    With the peri bottle, do you use that to rinse yourself, like a bidet, or to wet the wipes?

    Thanks for the information.

    September 13th, 2012 10:42 am Reply
    • Leah

      I make mine double sided flannel rectangles and then I serge them, I think they’re about 4X8″, then when I store them, I fold them in half so they are actually 4 layers of fabric when in use, but they wash better and dry faster because they aren’t so thick as if you sewed 4 layers. I also have some that are just cut up shirts (they don’t fray) but they’re not as cushy :)

      I use the peri bottle to rinse myself, like a bidet. I don’t wet the wipes, personally. I think it’s nicer to have a pail full of dry wipes and I see no need for it.

      September 13th, 2012 1:09 pm Reply
  • Juliette

    how about tissues in a box are those ok?

    September 13th, 2012 10:35 am Reply
  • Megan Loukota via Facebook

    Family cloth people!

    September 13th, 2012 10:31 am Reply
  • Linda Diane Feldt via Facebook

    It is easy and cheap to install a home in-toilet bidet. About $60 from Amazon, 10 minutes to install, will fit most toilets, and healthier in so many ways. I have my 7th Generation recycled TP available for guests.

    September 13th, 2012 10:30 am Reply
  • Liora

    Ok this does it, back to family cloth for us! Got away from it for a while, spirit renewed, why not, we cloth diaper already too…great article!!

    September 13th, 2012 10:26 am Reply
  • Amanda

    We could go back to using leaves ; ) lol

    …watch out for that poison ivy though

    September 13th, 2012 10:26 am Reply
  • Amanda Colo via Facebook

    I think i will continue to use recycled tp. Less of a carbon footprint
    It is not just trees used for virgin tp. Water and energy resources as well. This is a much greater issue when compared to the unlikely issue of bpa on your tush! I’m sure the brief swipe of tp doesn’t have that big of an effect

    September 13th, 2012 10:23 am Reply
    • Leah

      I agree, I think this article is taking a big jump. Even if it is full of BPA, where is the evidence that shows TP exposure increases BPA in humans? I’m all for avoiding BPA, but who said that virgin pulp was any better? Just because it has less BPA doesn’t mean it isn’t full of other nasties! With a large environmental impact to boot!

      September 13th, 2012 1:05 pm Reply
  • Jessica Draper via Facebook

    This unfortunately sounds like there is merit to it. Are the studies published somewhere we can read them? Were they sponsored by pro-cut-down-trees-don’t-recycle companies? I have a *really* hard time using non-recycled products. What about sugarcane tp as an option for us? There is a local bookstore/tearoom that has been using it for a few years…My only question regarding ultragreen brand is what does “other fibers” mean? “Made from 80% sugar-cane fiber and 20% other tree-free natural fibers” and this sugar cane…is it ridden with pesticides?? 😉

    September 13th, 2012 10:23 am Reply
  • Lizzi Hollanders via Facebook

    @Leslie, make sure it’s not poison ivy 😉

    September 13th, 2012 10:13 am Reply
  • Barbara Lettelier Fitch via Facebook

    It is to rough for me 😉 Many people do not realize but many farmers own land that they grow trees just for paper products. When the trees are processed they must replant with trees within a year in order to get the Farming TAX Bre
    ak on the property for growing the trees for paper products. If they do not replant they lose the tax adjustment. While it still hurts to see them take down a tree people must realize that many of the pulp trees for paper come from tree farms. Cutting down Rain Forest is different and should be stopped.

    September 13th, 2012 10:12 am Reply
  • Samantha Gerrits via Facebook

    Time to make the switch to family cloth, people.

    September 13th, 2012 10:10 am Reply
  • Anna Clark via Facebook

    thanks! I have not trusted BPA-free plastics and this makes sense to me.

    September 13th, 2012 10:09 am Reply
  • Lizzi Hollanders via Facebook

    i had a bidet growing up, but thought it made an excellent barbie shower and swimming pool *insert collective ewwwww* BUT to my credit we are Dutch which means everything was incredibly clean all the time. 😉

    September 13th, 2012 10:08 am Reply
  • Alison Woodward Vellinga via Facebook

    recycled toilet paper just sounds wrong 😉

    September 13th, 2012 10:08 am Reply
  • Aari Ludvigsen via Facebook

    Sad news. But obvious now that you say it. So much paper that makes it into the recycling stream has BPA on it. I only recently, personally, started making sure to keep all that thermal paper out of my paper recycling bin. I have always looked for highest post-consumer content in my recycled paper products. But now I will move back to buying TP with higher PRE-consumer recycled content, because that type of pulp is far less likely to be contaminated with BPA.

    I am very concerned about BPA but I am equally concerned about cutting down trees to flush down the toilet. Also about the manufacturing methods for some virgin toilet paper (added bleaches & whiteners — you don’t want those on your most absorbent skin either).

    424,000: The number of trees that would be saved if every household in the U.S. replaced just one 500 sheet roll of virgin toilet paper with just one recycled roll. -Natural Resources Defense Council.

    This has always been my go-to location for good, well labeled recycled content paper products. They have many tissue options with different amounts of post-consumer labelled.

    September 13th, 2012 10:07 am Reply
  • Aari

    Sad news. But obvious now that you say it. So much paper that makes it into the recycling stream has BPA on it. I only recently, personally, started making sure to keep all that thermal paper out of my paper recycling bin. I have always looked for highest post-consumer content in my recycled paper products. But now I will move back to buying TP with higher PRE-consumer recycled content, because that type of pulp is far less likely to be contaminated with BPA.

    I am very concerned about BPA but I am equally concerned about cutting down trees to flush down the toilet. Also about the manufacturing methods for some virgin toilet paper (added bleaches & whiteners — you don’t want those on your most absorbent skin either).

    424,000: The number of trees that would be saved if every household in the U.S. replaced just one 500 sheet roll of virgin toilet paper with just one recycled roll. -Natural Resources Defense Council.

    This has always been my go-to location for good, well labeled recycled content paper products. They have many tissue options with different amounts of post-consumer labelled.

    September 13th, 2012 10:07 am Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    @Leslie I felt the same way when I learned about this!!

    September 13th, 2012 10:06 am Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    Folks who like camping definitely have the right idea! Europeans too with the bidet.

    September 13th, 2012 10:06 am Reply
  • Leslie Bobb via Facebook

    Sigh…that’s it. I’m moving to the forest, eating berries and bark and wiping with leaves.

    September 13th, 2012 10:04 am Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    Yes, those Japanese toilets are verrrry different! Try using one on a moving train! Better be steady on your feet or you are in BIG trouble.

    September 13th, 2012 10:03 am Reply
  • Lizzi Hollanders via Facebook

    i think the japanese have this one figured out

    September 13th, 2012 10:01 am Reply
  • Kari O’Connor via Facebook


    September 13th, 2012 10:01 am Reply
  • David Bissette via Facebook

    An in-toilet bidet like the Hyjet fixes a lot of these issues. Rather than wipe with TP, you pat dry with it, using significantly less paper in the meanwhile. The Hyjet can be retrofit to practically any toilet. Springtime fresh. All day!

    September 13th, 2012 9:59 am Reply
  • Mike Tara McMillan via Facebook


    September 13th, 2012 9:56 am Reply
  • Kay Erickson Ehlers via Facebook

    What do you use instead?

    September 13th, 2012 9:56 am Reply
  • Jodie Barendsen via Facebook

    Thanks for the great article

    September 13th, 2012 9:54 am Reply
  • Lisa Marie Lindenschmidt

    Yep, we’ve been using cloth wipes now for almost two years and are saving a TON of money – not to mention that it saves on not consuming plastic (wrapper) and fuel (to transport to the store). Interestingly, my kid’s friends initially think it’s weird, but they quickly adjust and don’t really have problems with them. Our adult friends, on the other hand, almost ALWAYS think we’ve gone a bit off the deep end. ; p

    September 13th, 2012 8:47 am Reply
  • Okiemomx2

    Here I was worried about the long term exposure to chlorine from using TP. I tryed using cloth diapers when my daughter was little because I didn’t want to contribute to the landfills. Then I realized that I was problerly harming the planet just as much by washing all the diapers. Now I am not willing to jump on the cloth bandwagon quite so easily. I can’t afford the bamboo TP, besides process bamboo uses lots of energy and water. It seems like the best solution is to spread the word about this problem. Hopefully public awareness will drive the manufacturers to avoid using paper containing these products.

    September 13th, 2012 2:27 am Reply
    • Danielle @ Analytical Mom

      Unless you’re suggesting that we should all completely give up doing any laundry, I don’t think the addition of maybe one load of family cloth a week is going to kill the environment. :) Cloth does seem like best solution, since TP manufacturers really only have a choice between virgin fiber and recycled fiber (I don’t think they have a choice what kind of recycled content they get). Or are you thinking of paper manufacturers higher up in the supply chain taking out BPA so that it is not getting into recyclable goods at all?

      September 13th, 2012 11:14 am Reply
      • Leah

        The laundry issue (as far as impact) is very, very minimal. If you consider the fact that every sheet of paper requires 4 gallons of water to produce (I don’t know the # for toilet paper, but I’m sure it’s still a lot) the water that you are using to wash/reuse cloth is well spent. Plus you are eliminating the packaging and transportation associated with buying TP, and the BPA receipt you will get!

        September 13th, 2012 12:59 pm Reply
        • Olivia

          Good comment, Leah :-)

          September 19th, 2012 10:57 pm Reply
  • Rachael

    Sigh. It seems we have to worry about every little thing. Even something as simple as wiping your butt.

    September 12th, 2012 9:22 pm Reply
  • The Eco Mum

    I love your article – its a great expose`.

    However I am now torn – whilst I agree with what you are saying, in that paper and BPA has been an oncoming problem for a while now, I also know that using virgin tree pulp DOES mean that native forests are sometimes cut down for it. I can not stomach the thought of a native hardwood forest (like we have here in Australia for example) being cut down so I can wipe my butt.

    At the same time, the chemical exposure is worrying.

    May I suggest an alternative? I am looking further into it at the moment but have found BAMBOO toilet paper to be very good. Also, I will have to re-consider the Family Cloth idea. I initially cringed a few months back thinking it was too crunchy for my liking but after this article, it deserves a second look.

    *sigh* Here we go again…

    September 12th, 2012 7:15 pm Reply
  • Pingback: Switching to Family Cloth (i.e. cloth toilet paper)

  • Courtney Polivka

    Frank and I have been using cloth wipes *almost* exclusively for the last month or so. It got to the point where I woke up one day and wondered, OK if I’m going to use cloth wipes on my kids, why shouldn’t I be using them? There are still chemicals in TP and baby wipes! I talked to Frank about it, and he said, “Well, go get some flannel then, and we’ll do it.” I love how he never thinks I’m weird. Haha. He’s always excited about finding new ways to be healthier! Anyway, I wrote a post about it here:

    September 12th, 2012 4:12 pm Reply
  • Leah

    Don’t use virgin fiber!!! I really don’t feel good about wiping my rear with rainforests. Use old cotton shirts!!! I’ve been using family cloth for a few years and it is AWESOME!! Now I also have a bidet but before that I just used a peri-bottle and filled it up with warm or cool water. So simple and works great :) Soooo much better than any type of toilet paper could ever be.

    September 12th, 2012 4:06 pm Reply
  • Megan at SortaCrunchy

    Yep! My daughters and I have used cloth wipes for years. It may not be the perfect solution, but it’s certainly the most comfortable and gentle on the skin. I’ve written about the logistics of it here:

    September 12th, 2012 3:22 pm Reply
    • Megan

      thank you for link. my ? all the way down page was what where do i get or how do i make it. tganks agian

      September 13th, 2012 10:28 am Reply
    • Judith

      Megan at SortaCrunchy, the link to the CDC article on laundry at your blog is not working now. I did a search but didn’t find anything similar. It would be helpful to see what they say will work to kill pathogens in laundry.

      September 13th, 2012 10:50 am Reply
  • Heather

    I use cloth wipes :) Even my kiddos have their own special stash of wipes. I also have a water sprayer hooked up to the water line, like a makeshift bidet.

    September 12th, 2012 2:33 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist


      September 12th, 2012 2:48 pm Reply
      • zahra

        I am Muslim and in our religion we are required to wash ourselves after using toilet with bidet.Wiping only never cleans you %100 and you kind of spread the bacteria all over. My whole family used reusable cloth towels to dry themselves but we stop doing it for the sake of toilet paper. I have to get back to that habit soon.

        September 13th, 2012 2:13 pm Reply
    • Maria

      I already do that for my baby but never thought of doing it for ourselves.
      Heather, how do you do to wash those cloth wipes?, do you desinfect them with anything in particular? What temperature do you use in your washing machine? Any tip would be helpful, thank you :)

      September 12th, 2012 7:30 pm Reply
      • Leah

        I’m not Heather but I do use cloth 😉 I put the cloth tp in the wash and run them through a rinse first, then add more laundry and wash as normal. I use a bidet or peri bottle with poop so there is rarely even a slight *hint* of poop on the cloth, I’ve seen much worse in underwear. Before I used the water, I ran them as a regular cycle of wash on cold and then left them in the wash and added another load, so they got washed twice. Sometimes I add vinegar, sometimes not. I don’t do anything special to disinfect.

        September 13th, 2012 12:03 am Reply
      • Heather

        I just throw them in with a load of towels or diapers and wash on hot. I have a small wetbag in each bathroom to hold used wipes. Since I also use a sprayer as a bidet there is never anything on the wipe so I don’t need to do a pre-rinse. I honestly never imagined myself as a family wipe user but since I use cloth diapers/cloth wipes/cloth mama pads it was a natural progression. I hate to use regular TP now :)

        September 13th, 2012 3:16 pm Reply
    • Katrina

      I was wondering if anyone was going to mention family cloth! We are in the process of switching over. I let the kids pick out their own special prints they want to use and they are excited about it!

      September 12th, 2012 9:57 pm Reply
      • MSA

        Because of Muslim tradition, we’ve used a regular garden watering can with the nozzle taken off kept next to the toilet. I’ve heard that traditionally balls of clay or mud were used for wiping, but living in America I’ve never done it… hmm. Something to look into!

        If you walk into Home Depot and ask for a “Muslim shower” they’ll usually know what you’re talking about and walk you over to the little shower bidet that you hook up to the toilet!! LOL

        September 13th, 2012 3:46 pm Reply
    • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

      Yes, I think that is the best option — cloth!

      Avoid BPA, and avoid the problem of too many disposable products. I have some cloth that I use in the bathroom and I’ve been meaning to just go ahead and make the switch for real. My husband is reluctant, but…. It’ll save us money and exposure to chemicals. My babies like it, so why not me?!

      September 13th, 2012 10:12 am Reply
    • gabriele hawthorne

      I love that idea and had it in my head for a while but I am afraid that the wipes don’t get sanitized after usage in the washmachine sense I make my own wash powder. Can you let me know what you use to get the wipes clean after usage

      September 16th, 2012 5:57 pm Reply
  • pat

    Oh my gosh :0 thanks!
    …also was wondering what your thought were on using natural progesterone for issues like fibrocystic breast disease.

    September 12th, 2012 1:25 pm Reply
  • Brittany @ The Pistachio Project

    Thank you for this. I knew that recycled product contained BPA (or at least probably do as BPA products get recycled) but I never thought about recycled toilet paper! I was sort of feeling guilty about using non-recycled toilet paper but I’m now glad that I don’t!

    September 12th, 2012 1:23 pm Reply
  • Andy

    Makes sense. I’ll have to think about my next TP purchase after I go through the 35 recycled rolls left in my house.

    September 12th, 2012 1:18 pm Reply
    • Andy

      Pressed enter too early.

      I think overall I’d rather put up with a little BPA exposure if it means slightly less deforestation.

      September 12th, 2012 1:20 pm Reply
      • Leah

        I think that this is a really good point. Sometimes we sacrifice “the best” choice for ourselves for the sake of the planet. Luckily there are other options (ie cloth and or water). I also think that “virgin fiber” comes with it’s own risks (other than deforestation) such as dioxin, perfumes, etc…

        September 12th, 2012 4:30 pm Reply
        • Lea H @ Nourishing Treasures

          Call me selfish, but I’d rather save my children than save the planet.

          September 13th, 2012 9:57 am Reply
          • ICYNDICEY

            I hear that!

            September 13th, 2012 10:23 am
          • Linda

            Here’s an idea: You can save yourselves, your kiddies and the planet by making your own TP from scraps of burlap and canvas. After use, simply wash ’em in filtered water (no tapwater please!) using your nifty homemade soap. Hang to dry, of course. They’ll last forever!

            September 13th, 2012 10:23 am
          • Joy

            Actually Linda, a lot of people use “family wipes.” Usually made of soft flannel to protect those sensitive areas. I haven’t gone there yet, but it’s something I want to try down the road.

            September 13th, 2012 10:30 am
          • J

            Burlap? Canvas? Try Flannel. It lasts just as long and is super soft.

            September 13th, 2012 12:16 pm
          • Leah

            It seems a little short sighted to save your children at the expense of the planet (as a general rule) as they are essentially one in the same. And there are other alternatives (cloth/water) AND this article take the big jump to assume that virgin pulp is not full of other contaminants (which it is..)

            September 13th, 2012 12:52 pm

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