The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
August 16, 2007

Seventh Generation & Amazon.com: Solving my toilet paper problem

11/01/2012 Update:  This is an old post.  Seventh Generation has since replaced the product mentioned in this post with this one:  http://www.amazon.com/Seventh-Generation-Bathroom-Tissue-Sheets/dp/B007636DIW/. The pack of 60 500-sheet 2-ply rolls and the pack of 60 1,000-sheet 1-ply rolls are the new subscribe and save, plastic-free options.  I will check them out and blog more about them at a later date.  Beth

Eureka! One more plastic problem solved! I’ve been leaning towards Seventh Generation individually wrapped 2-ply rolls of toilet paper because they are not only plastic-free, but they also contain the highest percentage of post-consumer recycled content I’ve been able to find. The drawback was that this toilet paper is more expensive per roll than the Quilted Northern that we’d been flushing away for years. $1.35 per roll at Rainbow Grocery and .99 per roll at Berkeley Bowl.

I had considered Marcal individually wrapped, 100% recycled toilet paper. Staples sells an 80-roll case for $59.99 (.75 per roll.) But then I visited Marcal’s web site and saw the ad for their “innovative polycase,” which translates as “plastic wrap!” Ugh. If I bought this toilet paper in a store as separate rolls, I’d never know it had been packaged in plastic before being delivered to the store. But now I had seen the plastic, so I just couldn’t buy it.

(12/21/09 Note:  Apparently, the Marcal site has been updated with no mention of the polycase or any other form of packaging.  It might be worth a call to find out if they are still shipping their toilet paper encased in plastic.)

Instead, I took another look at Seventh Generation and suddenly realized that instead of calculating the cost per roll, I should have been looking at the cost per sheet. Seventh Generation 2-ply rolls contain 500 sheets, as opposed to Quilted Northern Super Absorbent, which contains 352 sheets, or Quilted Northern Ultra, which contains 200 sheets. Per sheet, all three cost about the same.

And then I found a way to save even more money. Amazon.com sells a 48-roll case of plastic-free Seventh Generation Bathroom Tissue, 2-Ply Sheets, 500-Sheet Rollsfor $43.56. (See disclosure below.) That’s .9075 per roll. But wait! If you order a toilet paper subscription (yeah, you heard me right) you get the 48-roll case for $37.03, plus a Ginzu knife. Now it’s .77 per roll. (I signed up to receive an automatic delivery every six months.  And I’m lying about the Ginzu.)

Okay, so how am I justifying ordering toilet paper from Amazon.com rather than at the local store, considering the greenhouse effects of transportation? Well, first of all, I’m buying in bulk, not 6 rolls at a time. Second, Michael and I don’t own a car, so the only practical way for us to buy in bulk is to order it. Third, we’re only buying it a couple of times a year. And fourth, even if we bought it at a local store, it still had to be shipped there, right? I bought a whole freakin’ case. Give me a break!

Wow. Did you see that? I just had an argument with myself! I wonder who won?

(Here’s Amazon.com’s statement on their environmental policies, for what it’s worth.)

So yeah, affordable plastic-free, recycled, non-chlorine-bleached, bulk toilet paper automatically delivered to my door. But how does the paper actually feel? Ay, there’s the rub. I’ll put it this way… I’m saving my remaining 25 rolls of Quilted Northern for the next time I get a cold. Seventh Generation is fine for my butt, but I’d rather not subject a sore nose to it.

I’m just saying.

Disclosure: Since writing this post, I have joined the Amazon.com affiliate program, which means that My Plastic-Free Life receives a small commission on sales generated through this site.

72 comments
Rachel Hardwick
Rachel Hardwick

Part 3:  I heard from SG, and not long after I heard from Alice.com, just getting around to sharing with you.  Here's their response:

Thanks for taking the time to write to us about this shipping concern and excessive use of materials, and plastic no less. I have a copy of the email that Jared sent you in response to your email to Alice, so I know that he has reached out to you. We are always pleased when our consumers reach out with information so that we can help our vendors with their practices; this is a perfect example. I would like to totally understand something, as your pictures led me down a different path than what I envisioned................... We had received a shipping/packaging complaint a while ago, the consumer's concern was that the Bathroom Tissue case was inside another box, and so I thought this was the issue here; and that for some reason they added the pillows. However, if I am reading your pictures correctly.....the 60 rolls were separated into TWO BOXES, and this led the shipper to use all the plastic pillows in the boxes? WOW, this is indeed a practice that we need to be aware of and help Alice and their shipper find more effective, less plastic based and still product safe ways to ship to our consumers and to their other consumer base. Thanks for being part of the solution, so we can help change this practice and reduce this footprint. I have sent your email to the web manager, who manages this relationship.

I wrote back that yes, there were two boxes.  We wrote back and forth a bit and I learned that next year SG will have its own e-commerce site, so hopefully they will have more control of their packaging and distribution.  Beth, thanks for the inspiration!

Rachel Hardwick
Rachel Hardwick

Part 3:  I heard from SG, and not long after I heard from Alice.com, just getting around to sharing with you.  Here's their response:

Thanks for taking the time to write to us about this shipping concern and excessive use of materials, and plastic no less. I have a copy of the email that Jared sent you in response to your email to Alice, so I know that he has reached out to you. We are always pleased when our consumers reach out with information so that we can help our vendors with their practices; this is a perfect example. I would like to totally understand something, as your pictures led me down a different path than what I envisioned................... We had received a shipping/packaging complaint a while ago, the consumer's concern was that the Bathroom Tissue case was inside another box, and so I thought this was the issue here; and that for some reason they added the pillows. However, if I am reading your pictures correctly.....the 60 rolls were separated into TWO BOXES, and this led the shipper to use all the plastic pillows in the boxes? WOW, this is indeed a practice that we need to be aware of and help Alice and their shipper find more effective, less plastic based and still product safe ways to ship to our consumers and to their other consumer base. Thanks for being part of the solution, so we can help change this practice and reduce this footprint. I have sent your email to the web manager, who manages this relationship.

I wrote back that yes, there were two boxes.  We wrote back and forth a bit and I learned that next year SG will have its own e-commerce site, so hopefully they will have more control of their packaging and distribution.  Beth, thanks for the inspiration!

Rachel Hardwick
Rachel Hardwick

Ugh - I'm having problems posting here and accidentally deleted my prior comment.  I wrote about receiving plastic air pillows in my package of Seventh Generation TP fulfilled by Alice.com.  I contacted alice.com (inspired by this blog to do so), explained the problem, and included pictures of the boxes w the air pillows.Here's the very positive response I rec'd from alice.com:

 Thank you for your email and your feedback. It’s really appreciated. We definitely agree with you on the excess packaging for something like toilet paper and I am going to let our warehouse know about your order to make sure they are not using excess packaging when not needed. I’m also going to pass along your feedback to our Operations team so we can continue to examine the best packaging materials available to us. Again, I really appreciate you taking the time to share your feedback and if there is ever anything else I can do for you, please let me know.

Rachel Hardwick
Rachel Hardwick

Ugh - I'm having problems posting here and accidentally deleted my prior comment.  I wrote about receiving plastic air pillows in my package of Seventh Generation TP fulfilled by Alice.com.  I contacted alice.com (inspired by this blog to do so), explained the problem, and included pictures of the boxes w the air pillows.Here's the very positive response I rec'd from alice.com:

 Thank you for your email and your feedback. It’s really appreciated. We definitely agree with you on the excess packaging for something like toilet paper and I am going to let our warehouse know about your order to make sure they are not using excess packaging when not needed. I’m also going to pass along your feedback to our Operations team so we can continue to examine the best packaging materials available to us. Again, I really appreciate you taking the time to share your feedback and if there is ever anything else I can do for you, please let me know.

Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator
Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator

@Another Idea I love your family cloth idea and enjoyed checking out your blog. I think family clothes are a great alternative.

Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator
Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator

Rachel Hardwick Hello, glad to hear your a fan of the blog. That's too bad your tp came with air pillows, I mean what exactly does toilet paper need protecting from anyways right?? If you still wish to purchase Seventh Generation toilet paper through their website, I would contact them and find out if you can have them omit any of the plastic packaging.

GlasSage
GlasSage

@Another Idea my family has used "family cloth" for a few years now.  easy to switch the kids over, dh a bit tougher.  lol.  however, it is much more comfortable, and really, we should not be so squeamish! that is our biggest issue as a culture: afraid of our bodily fluids.  we prefer old cotton towels cut into strips, but some use old t-shirts, etc.  started reducing plastics 10 years ago, and eliminated all shampoos, detergents, commercial soaps and cleaners about 8-9 years ago. ...but i digress...

Another Idea
Another Idea

I don't know if this is too radical, but I did read this awhile ago, and thought about trying it out eventually. http://www.thepolivkafamily.com/2012/08/switching-to-family-cloth/

 

The good thing is that it avoids plastic, which is the main goal here, and you can customize the cloth by deciding what type of fabric you use (organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, etc.). I'd love to know what others think of this! Is it too "dirty"? Too strange for guests?

WithoutConclusion
WithoutConclusion

Beth,

 

I ofter look to blogs like yours when I am in search of the perfect product to write about on my blog.  I see the problem you are having and I am currently looking into eco-friendly toilet paper.  I have found the brand Ever-Green.  This brand is sold cheaper than 7th Generation from letsgogreen.biz.  Please let me know what you think.

Alyssa
Alyssa

Do you still order this Beth? I ask because I used to, and now that I'm looking to purchase it again, I see the price has doubled to $110. I can get, for about $35, a similar item but it has 4 twelve-packs, and each 12-pack is plastic wrapped. Bummer!! Gonna have to start buying at the store again, and making more plastic waste.

emilyf007
emilyf007

Just an FYI, I logged into Amazon and the 2 ply is $105.95, which means each roll is a little over $2 if there are indeed 48 rolls because it doesn't list the number of rolls in the package! I'll stick to buying at Whole Foods, even with the plastic, as everything is quite unclear.

emilyf007
emilyf007

Just an FYI, I logged into Amazon and the 2 ply is $105.95, which means each roll is a little over $2 if there are indeed 48 rolls because it doesn't list the number of rolls in the package! I'll stick to buying at Whole Foods, even with the plastic, as everything is quite unclear.

Liz and circus
Liz and circus

Bad news....I subscribed to the  7th Generation TP through Amazon.com....the first order was as depicted above, rolls wrapped in paper.  The second delivery, however,  was the  four roll  packs wrapped in plastic!!  And the first delivery was 54 rolls, but the renewal delivery has shrunk to 48 rolls.  I feel very  "bait and switched" and will be returning this ASAP.  I hope I can find the original paper wrapped product.

Liz and circus
Liz and circus

Bad news....I subscribed to the  7th Generation TP through Amazon.com....the first order was as depicted above, rolls wrapped in paper.  The second delivery, however,  was the  four roll  packs wrapped in plastic!!  And the first delivery was 54 rolls, but the renewal delivery has shrunk to 48 rolls.  I feel very  "bait and switched" and will be returning this ASAP.  I hope I can find the original paper wrapped product.

Pat Clancy
Pat Clancy

I'm curious.  Why does 7th Generation wrap its paper towels in plastic?  Couldn't they also be wrapped in paper like the TP?

Pat Clancy
Pat Clancy

I'm curious.  Why does 7th Generation wrap its paper towels in plastic?  Couldn't they also be wrapped in paper like the TP?

Purvi
Purvi

I was going to talk about cleaning with water like Eve Birgitta ja Kaitsu above did. We do it all teh time in India, there is no paper, no way. We live in the US now and using water didnt work very well the small toilets we have here (the toilets look different in India and are much wider to be able to use a mug filled with water and clean). However, we found something called bidet on Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Luxe-MB110-Non-Electric-Mechanical-Attachment/dp/B001KKRCFA/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1325281383&sr=8-4 and installed it in both our restrooms. It is awesome and we sometimes use a bit of toilet paper for the dry feel or we dont use toilet paper at all (my husband and I grew up in India and are used to that!) I am making my 4-yr old use it too, she uses paper in school, but not at home :)

Neville
Neville

Beth, I really appreciate that in trying to avoid plastic you try to look at mainstream options rather than more radical ideas. It really helps encourage people to follow in your footsteps. We've been looking at switching from toilet paper to a combination of cloth and water using a bottle. We discounted the possibility of recycled toilet paper because of the BPA content (thermal receipt paper in the recycled paper supply contains BPA) - I didn't see this concern mentioned here. Also I like to lean towards solutions that simplify as well reduce plastic. Thanks again for all the tips and tidbits of info.

kanishka
kanishka

still waiting for local retailers and food coops to stock this evergreen TP. i have informed some of them of it. they even have a new article on their website, it sounds like you wrote it, beth!

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Hey Kanishka, that's a good one too. I've included it in the book I'm working on, and I need to add it to the Plastic-free Guide. I think 7th Gen still has the most postconsumer and total recycled content, as I recall, but I don't remember for sure.

kanishka
kanishka

fyi, since you wrote this, i ran into some blogger talking about this : http://www.greenbayconverting.com/evergreen.php i'd be surprised if you haven't run into it already. i'm kind of curious, as of 2011, who is best on recycled content and plastic-free packaging. greenpeace also has general ratings, but i think they simply list the post-consumer content and recycled content to rate.

sarah
sarah

i have been using wash cloths for quite some time due to allergies- i find that i am more comfortable and that the wash cloth does a much better job than tp... and yes, i wash my hands well each time - lol

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Margaret, these rolls can also be sold individually on store shelves, so the wrapper is also the label, protects from dirt, and keeps them from unrolling. (They cost a lot more individually, which is why I buy them by the case.)

Margaret
Margaret

Why do they even wrap them if it's not to protect from water? I take it you didn't find any in your search that came in a box without being individually wrapped?

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

Hi Margaret. The paper wrapper is like tissue paper. If "wet-strength" means that it resists water, then this is not wet-strength because it falls apart when wet. It's not coated. There is also a note on the wrapper that says "Please recycle," but actually, it might even be better to compost it since it's so flimsy. I'm very conscious of plastic-coated paper and don't recommend products that come in paper with plastic coating.

Margaret
Margaret

Can you further describe the paper wrapping? I'd love to reduce the plastic from TP (I usually buy the 12-pack of Seventh Generation), but I'm afraid that for a paper product the "paper" wrapping would actually be wet-strength, and therefore not recyclable or compostable.

Daniella
Daniella

I just wanted to second the "family cloth" option, I only started really using toilet wipes when my DD was potty training. I think I was sad about putting all the cloth diapers and wipes into storage/not using them anymore. Either way I use toilet cloths exclusively now, and even carry my own with me in my purse.

Tracey
Tracey

I switched to delivered cases of 100% recycled paper this year, too! I get it here in Canadada through Staples.ca http://www.staples.ca/ENG/Catalog/cat_sku.asp?CatIds=&webid=495298&affixedcode=WW April Soft $39.99 for 48 rolls. I sell it at cost at my clinic http://www.anarreshealth.ca/node/725 to keep the storage need at bay and it sells like hot cakes! Ah Ah Ah *evil laugh* saving the world from toilet paper wrapped in plastic one roll at a time! http://www.staples.ca/ENG/Catalog/cat_sku.asp?CatIds=&webid=495298&affixedcode=WW I'm still too lazy to install my all metal bidet attachment. *boo*.

Eve Birgitta ja Kaitsu
Eve Birgitta ja Kaitsu

Hey! Why AT ALL use toilet paper, when (well I don't know about UK etc) but at least in european countries we have in toilet hand shower, wich you can use alone, or fill a cup or a little bucket with water. For example in China, Nepal, India etc... they clean them selves with water. I think it's more ecological than using paper.For example if 1 million arses wipes them selves with paper 1-3 times a day for 50 years, imagine how many forests you have to cut down for that! Ofcourse, figures are enourmos already..Now you are ofcourse thinking, can you really clean it properly and what about your hand. Well, you don't really have to touch your bottom with the hand. You fill the cup with water and rinse your bottom using the left hand (or which ever you like, usually its left) and after that you wash your hands ofcourse carefully. If somebody finds trouble in leaving the bottom wet after, you can ofcourse use a towl. But usually the wetness isn't so big, so you just put your trousers back on.Imagine, if you would fall on shit, and your face would be covered with it. Would you want to rinse it with water or wipe it with paper?Eve

Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator
Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator moderator

@Rachel Hardwick Sounds like Seventh Generation is listening to our packaging concerns. I'm curious to see what changes Seventh Generation will be making next year in regards to their packaging. I really hope having more control of their packaging and distribution means that they are willing to ditch plastic material all together. Thanks so much Rachel for being proactive and writing to Seventh Generation. This is how change happens! 

Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator
Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator

Rachel Hardwick Sounds like Seventh Generation is listening to our packaging concerns. I'm curious to see what changes Seventh Generation will be making next year in regards to their packaging. I really hope having more control of their packaging and distribution means that they are willing to ditch plastic material all together. Thanks so much Rachel for being proactive and writing to Seventh Generation. This is how change happens!

Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator
Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator moderator

@Rachel Hardwick Kudos to you for writing to Alice.com! I'm glad they are taking some responsibility and discussing this issue with their operations team. Thank you for the update Rachel! 

Rachel Hardwick
Rachel Hardwick

Part 2:  I copied Seventh Generation on my email and got on their case for not watching their vendors and said they should care b/c the packaging hurts their brand/image.I haven't heard from SG yet. 

It occurred to me that I could have ordered the case of TP from either my local food co-op or local Whole Foods.Surely, I would have walked out w/ a case of TP with no extra packaging - I would have rec'd it as the store receives it from the distributor.Plus, both stores give a 10-15% discount when you buy a case of anything.Next year... I have a LOT of TP in my house to go through first.Again, thanks for this wonderful blog!I shared it with two friends this week who I know, like I did, will get on board!

Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator
Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator

Rachel Hardwick Kudos to you for writing to Alice.com! I'm glad they are taking some responsibility and discussing this issue with their operations team. Thank you for the update Rachel!

Rachel Hardwick
Rachel Hardwick

I copied Seventh Generation on my email and got on their case for not watching their vendors and said they should care b/c the packaging hurts their brand/image.I haven't heard from SG yet. 

It occurred to me that I could have ordered the case of TP from either my local food co-op or local Whole Foods.Surely, I would have walked out w/ a case of TP with no extra packaging - I would have rec'd it as the store receives it from the distributor.Plus, both stores give a 10-15% discount when you buy a case of anything.Next year... I have a LOT of TP in my house to go through first.Again, thanks for this wonderful blog!I shared it with two friends this week who I know, like I did, will get on board!

Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator
Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator moderator

@Rachel Hardwick Hello, glad to hear you're a fan of the blog. That's too bad your tp came with air pillows, I mean what exactly does toilet paper need protecting from anyways right?? If you still wish to purchase Seventh Generation toilet paper through their website, I would contact them and find out if you can have them omit any of the plastic packaging. 

Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator
Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator moderator

@Another Idea I love your family cloth idea and enjoyed checking out your blog. I think family clothes are a great alternative. 

GlasSage
GlasSage

@Another Idea my family has used "family cloth" for a few years now.  easy to switch the kids over, dh a bit tougher.  lol.  however, it is much more comfortable, and really, we should not be so squeamish! that is our biggest issue as a culture: afraid of our bodily fluids.  we prefer old cotton towels cut into strips, but some use old t-shirts, etc.  started reducing plastics 10 years ago, and eliminated all shampoos, detergents, commercial soaps and cleaners about 8-9 years ago. ...but i digress...

Beth Terry
Beth Terry

My dad just installed a bidet toilet seat and everyone in the family loves it. I don't know if I want to make the investment, though. I'll wait and see how long his lasts and whether it breaks or not.

BethTerry
BethTerry moderator

@Rachel Hardwick Thank you for taking action.  Please do report back if/when you hear from 7th Gen.  

BethTerry
BethTerry

Rachel Hardwick Thank you for taking action.  Please do report back if/when you hear from 7th Gen.