It’s hard to imagine a world and a life without toilet paper. But actually, less than a third of the global population uses toilet paper daily. And as it turns out, foregoing the teepee might just be the best thing for our bodies, our finances, and our planet.
Most of us assume that toilet paper protects us from dangerous bacteria and disease, but studies show that alternatives, like bidets, are actually safer and more effective. The chemicals found in a standard issue toilet roll will surprise you. Toilet paper fibers contain the much-hated chemical BPA, a xenoestrogen that the FDA has linked to increasing the risks of cancer, heart disease and infertility.
Getting adequate care for these types of diseases should be cut-and-dry. However, the American reality is rarely that simple. Despite improved efforts to expand availability of health care, lower insurance costs, and guarantee coverage of terminal diseases, dealing with health care providers and insurance companies when it comes to these matters can cause incredible stress. Regardless of the circumstance, the general public always pays economically and emotionally for the lack of foresight by some of our top product-makers.
Of course, the primary problem with our toilet paper addiction is that we go through an enormous amount of it. Every day, 27,000 trees go down the toilet as waste paper. And we consume thousands of gallons of excess water to flush the wad of paper through our sewer systems. If we each swapped just four rolls of traditional paper for recycled paper this year, we would save one million trees and 356 million gallons of fresh water.
To learn more about the impact of our $30 billion teepee habit, check out this latest video from the Hidden Costs series.
- Video Transcript
- Health: B
- Locally: (B)
- When it comes to avoiding a rehash of the Cholera epidemic– things like toilet paper and sewage are your best friend. However, research shows bidets (water spigots in toilet used for post-business cleanup) are better than toilet paper at cleaning, preventing vaginitis, urinary tract infections, and more.
- Globally: (C+)
- While toilet paper doesn’t completely protect hands from bacteria, the germ-saving commodity is only used by 25-30% of the world. Also, toilet paper, especially recycled, is known to contain miniscule amount of BPA – a toxin linked with cancer, heart disease, and infertility.
- Environment: D
- Locally: (D+)
- People use on average 57 sheets of toilet paper per day, 20,000 per year, and 384 trees in a lifetime. If left standing, those trees could have absorbed carbon from 9.9 million miles of car driving.
- Globally: (D-)
- Daily, the world consumes 27,000 trees in toilet paper form. In fact, some environment advocates rate the use of soft toilet as worse than driving a hummer. If every American used swapped just 4 rolls of traditional toilet paper for recycled, we’d save 1 million trees/year and save 356 million gallons of fresh water.
- Economy: B+
- Locally: (B)
- Most adults spend $40-$70 per year to keep their bathroom stocked. Based on the average movie ticket price of $7.78 – a person can go to the movie theater just 8 times in a year before surpassing their toilet paper budget.
- Globally: (A)
- The global toilet paper industry brings in $30 billion annually. Plus, toilet paper demand is on the rise in countries including China, Japan, and countries in Europe. The toilet paper industry creates a lot of jobs and a income for people around the world.
- Final Grade: C+