Seventh Generation & Amazon.com: Solving my toilet paper problem
09/28/2017 Update: This is an old post. I have since switched to a different brand of toilet paper.
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, sold by the individual roll, is more expensive per roll than the Quilted Northern that we’d been flushing away for years.
I had considered Marcal individually wrapped, 100% recycled toilet paper. But then I visited Marcal’s website 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 60-roll case of plastic-free Seventh Generation Bathroom Tissue, 2-Ply Sheets, 500-Sheet Rolls that is shipped in a cardboard box. But wait! If you order a toilet paper subscription (yeah, you heard me right) you get a discount, plus a Ginzu knife. (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?
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.
check out “who gives a crap” no plastic, and 48 rolls for 48$ which is 50 cents less a roll than that amazon deal!
I bought several flannel baby blankets at the thrift shop for 25 cents each. I cut them into squares and put them into a basket in my bathroom. I put the soiled cloths into a bucket in my laundry room and wash them with my towels and dry them for reuse. These reusable, toilet cloths have been used for a year now. Not only are they plastic free, I spent less than $2 for a year’s worth of soft tush wiping. They are also great for makeup removal. Old tee shirts cut up, also work, but the flannel is better. I do have toilet paper for guests.
i am looking for plastic-free toilet paper options, and i noticed that this post is very old. i also noticed from the comment on the amazon product page (https://amzn.to/2jMbcTx) that the packaging for this product has changed and now contains plastic. Is anyone willing to share where they *currently* buy plastic-free toilet paper? thanks!
Hi. Those comments were from 2013, so yesterday, I posted the question on that Amazon page, and multiple people replied that it’s being delivered plastic-free. (We hadn’t had to order in over a year for our home because we bought so much at one time, so we never received a box with plastic.) The consensus among those who responded seems to be that there is no longer plastic in the box. So hopefully, this issue has been corrected.
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!
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!
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.
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!
Thank you for taking action. Please do report back if/when you hear from 7th Gen.
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!
@Another Idea I love your family cloth idea and enjoyed checking out your blog. I think family clothes are a great alternative.
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.
@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…
I don’t know if this is too radical, but I did read this awhile ago, and thought about trying it out eventually.
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?
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.
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.
Hi Alyssa. 7th Gen changed the size of the rolls and count in the box. This is the new item: https://amzn.to/2kdzV1M
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.
Okay, I’ve gotten to the bottom of it. They changed the size and count in the box. Here is the new item that comes in a cardboard box: https://amzn.to/2kdzV1M I’ll update the blog post.
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.
Hi Liz. Try this one. 7th Gen changed the size of the rolls and therefore the count in the box. https://amzn.to/2kdzV1M
I’m curious. Why does 7th Generation wrap its paper towels in plastic? Couldn’t they also be wrapped in paper like the TP?
That is a VERY good question. Why not contact 7th Gen and ask? https://www.seventhgeneration.com/about/contact-us
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 – https://www.amazon.com/Luxe-MB110-Non-Electric-Mechanical-Attachment/dp/B001KKRCFA/ 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 :)
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.
Beth, how’s your dad’s bidet seat holding up? I’m currently reviewing this topic for my family and have been considering the bidet option, too. Thanks!
Hi Catherine. I think it broke. Last month, when I visited, I noticed it had been replaced with a normal toilet seat. I think I asked about it but don’t remember the specifics of what broke.
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.
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!
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.
fyi, since you wrote this, i ran into some blogger talking about this :
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.
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
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.)
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?
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.
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.
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.
I switched to delivered cases of 100% recycled paper this year, too! I get it here in Canadada through Staples.ca
April Soft $39.99 for 48 rolls. I sell it at cost at my clinic 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!
I’m still too lazy to install my all metal bidet attachment. *boo*.
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?
I would just like to add that I have heard of something called “Family Cloth.” I heard of this idea from a Cloth Diapering website. Basically it is using cloth wipes for all bathroom functions (or just female urination) and depositing the cloth wipes into a canister with a lid. The wipes are then washed and dried and there is little if any waste or exra cost. I have heard good things, but this might be a bit much for those w/o their own washers and dryers.
updated prices on seventh generation tp from amazon.
48 rolls 56.23
47.80 for the subscription
Beth, not sure if this has been brought up…but I’ve started giving vendors a “good” rating instead of a “excellent” rating if the item is perfect but comes wrapped with styrofoam or plastic. Then I explain why I’m not giving a high rating. Or maybe I should give them a “poor” rating?
Awesome! Thanks for all the TP info! I’m headed over Amazon right now to purchase some!
FYI – I just wanted to point out that the 48-pack is back in stock at Amazon! I think I’m about to sign myself up for a 6-month subscription. :D
Peters Family Band — BUMMER! I just added an update to the top of this post. Hopefully Amazon will get it in again. If you’ll notice, it’s not actually Amazon that’s selling the TP for $95 but one of their affiliate sellers.
When I look at my subscription page (since I subscribe to toilet paper deliveries) I see a message that the product is currently unavailable.
Thanks for pointing it out.
Am I looking at the same product? The product I’m taken to when I click on the link in this post is $95. That’s double the price! What happened?
It’s now $40.79 for a box of the toilet paper!
I know this is an old post, but I was in the process of trying to attempt to bulk buy some plastic free toilet paper for myself (unsuccessfully) and went to the Seventh Generation web site to see if they had any distribution in the UK and saw a scary photo of some plastic wrapped toilet paper! Why have they started doing this???
If anybody knows of UK sources for plastic-free toilet paper, please do let me know…
I buy Natural Value TP by the case at my local save the earth store. It’s 100% (80% post consumer) recycled, 500 2-ply sheets, in a box and wrapped in paper. It comes to .66 a roll and the wrapper makes good packing paper or tissue type flowers lol.
Get a bidet – no toilet paper! I got a dual flush toilet (which just so you feel closer to me – I still use the “if it’s yellow…” standard). It flushes .9 gallons or 1.6 gallons per flush – you choose! Then I got a bidet (or washlet) toilet seat. I could not find a non-plastic bidet seat. However, I figure that the plastic used for the seat offsets the plastic used to package the 100% recycled toilet paper (how ironic!) as well as the pollutants caused in making and transporting it. And yes, I’m clean as whistle!!
Does anybody know of a source for toilet paper in the UK that is not wrapped in plastic? I have searched and searched to no avail…
I mentioned this to my boyfriend last night, and he pointed out that the shipping from Amazon to you does not equate to the shipping from Seventh Generation to the store. There are still extra carbon miles involved because Amazon ships the tp from their warehouse, not directly from Seventh Generation. So, the tp travels twice — once from the factory to Amazon, and once from Amazon to you. But perhaps the buying in bulk and reduction of plastic still tips the balance in your favor?
Thanks to your tip, I took the leap in logic for Seventh Generation paper towels at Amazon. A 30 pack breaks down to about $1.70 a roll, much cheaper than any deal I have found in stores. Much obliged!
Beth – I’m impressed with your TP research and glad you talked about the plastic wrap ugh! that shit is everywhere & on everything.
I recently purchased a Seventh Gen single roll and felt bad about it being individually wrapped, but now that you bring up the plastic issue, I feel much better about the single roll wrapped in recycled paper, and will stick with this choice until I find something better. the bulk is not an option as there is only one butt in my house and not much closet space.
I think you won your argument! crack me up :0
Thanks Beth! I can wait until next week.
Amazon won’t deliver this to Canada, alas. I’ve just left a message with the ordering desk at my local grocery store to see if they can get this case for me. Probably won’t be as cheap, but skipping the plastic is nice! Thanks for the great ideas, this is my first visit here and I liked it.
You know, there’s nothing like going through Stuff Mart with a Big Toilet Paper Package sticking out the cart. “Yes, we have bowel issues” it seems to shout.
I say, Yay for Amazon.
And thanks for the product review!
Hey, what’s with the new picture? I honestly believed that your head was perfectly round and as large as the rest of your body! (It had to be, to hold so much brains!)
I’m actually not using the Preserve razors. I use their toothbrushes, but I found a way to shave without throwing away any plastic at all. Should I give it away now or can you wait until next week when I’ll have a full post with photos?
I had heard of it but didn’t know it would work for me. I’ll be interested to hear what you think. I also don’t shave that often (1-2X per week). You are using the Preserv Razors, right? I’ll have to try those after my current ones run out – but I have sensitive skin so I’m somewhat picky. Ummm, food for thought. Thanks!
Hold on, Sunny! There may be another way. Have you heard of shave soap? It’s what people used to use in the old days (you know, back when guys used those scary straight razors.) Well, you can still get shave soap. I’m actually in the process of experimenting now, and I’ll let you know what works the best.
I think I’ll write a post about shaving next week. I’ve got the razor problem solved. Now I just have to figure out the best shave gel alternative.
Well this is perfect, I had a question to ask and since we’re already in the bathroom it will work out great. Skintimate shave gel comes in a steel can which on the back they encourage you to recycle. Well here in Salem, they have no way for me to recycle. I’m going to call the manufacturer today but it makes me think. Is it better to get a product like Kiss my Face (probably better ingredients but more expensive) in a plastic container that I know I can recycle or get something that I know will go into a landfill? Also, the Kiss my Face has a pump since it’s not under pressure so that part I don’t think can be recycled. Guess it’s a good excuse to go shopping. Maybe they have a shaving gel of the month club!