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Plastic free toilet paper
Katie Ostrich
January 20, 2012 - 10:54 am

So, lent is coming up and I'd like to try to give up plastic for the season (with some caveats). What I mean by that is I’d like to avoid buying new plastic or generating plastic waste during lent. I still plan on using certain plastic items that I don’t throw away (my water bottle for instance- yes, I still have a nalgene) as they won't be newly acquired plastic or add to my plastic waste. I’m also not counting things that I use at work against the tally cause, I need those items for work.There are also a few things I'm not willing to live without – namely dental floss and milk (even the glass bottles have those plastic lids).

For those of you that don't know, lent is 40 days, starts on Ash Wednesday (Feb 22nd this year) and ends on Holy Saturday (April 7th). I don’t know that I'm ready to live plastic free forever, but I thought Lent would be a good start.

As I've been thinking about the challenge, I've tried to come up with plastic free alternatives, and I’ve still got a few stumpers. Any suggestions are most welcome: By the way, I live in Stockton, CA

Toilet paper – I've never seen it sold without the big plastic bag around all the rolls. I have even tried searching for answers through this site, but saw none.

Receipts – Yes, they look like paper, but usually it's carbon-less paper (i.e.plastic) and the registers print them automatically, so even if you refuse them that waste is still generated.

Produce – It always comes with those little stickers. Organic usually comes with an extra sticker to tell you it’s organic.

Cheese – I have insufficient words for my deep and abiding love of cheese. I cannot last 40 days without it. But even at places like wholefoods, wedges of cheese are wrapped in plastic (horrible for the cheese, btw, destroys the flavour) and slammed with a plastic sticker for a price tag. Any ideas for a lower plastic alternative?

Cosmetics – my cosmetics are few, but one I love is jojoba oil. Seriously, the stuff is amaze balls. Does anyone know of a place that sells oils in bulk?

Ideas? Suggestions? Thanks in advance.


January 20, 2012 - 11:00 pm

You could use cloth wipes or if you don't want to be quite so adventurous you could order Seventh Generation toilet paper at that comes in a cardboard box and there is this:…

I think some stores sell toilet paper that comes wrapped in paper and you buy it by the roll. 

Go to for homemade makeup recipes. 

I haven't looked for jojoba in bulk, but it has crossed my mind to look.

Have you tried going to the deli with a glass jar and have them cut the amount you need?

Look into local produce.  Do your farmers markets have operate in the winter?

January 21, 2012 - 8:35 am

Whole foods and other grocery stores with a salad bar usually have shredded cheese in bulk.  Will that satisfy your cravings for 40 days? 

I hate those produce stickers!  But for those of us who don't live in California, the farmer's market isn't an option this time of year.  If it was me, I'd put produce stickers on the short list of plastic you can't live without.  It's hard enough not to cheat and buy a bag of oranges or whatever isn't available loose.

Look for jojoba oil in a glass bottle.  It's out there.

Katie Ostrich
January 22, 2012 - 1:17 pm

Thanks for the suggestions! I generally like 7th generation's products, but didn't know you could get them completely plastic free. So far, I haven't seen jojoba in glass bottles in any stores, but maybe on-line there's some options. Thanks again!

Beth Terry
404 Posts
January 22, 2012 - 3:33 pm

Julsie, I agree about putting produce stickers on the list of necessities when you live in a place without local farmers markets. I think we have to tackle the big things first and not get too caught up in the details until we have reduced the bigger stuff.

The thing about the salad bar, though, is that sometimes they just open plastic bags of cheese and other salad ingredients and dump them in, and it’s the same cheese you would buy to bring home. I got the inside scoop from a Whole Foods employee.

Eve Stavros
January 23, 2012 - 4:53 am

So, I thought I was doing the environmentally sound thing by ordering from Restockit (96 rolls, yup, shoulda seen my linen closets!) tp made from 100% recycled paper, wrapped in paper, shipped w/only one strip of plastic (on the shipping label).  Sound familiar?  Then I read how recycled toilet paper contains BPA (from the de-inking process – those pesky register receipts again!), which is not so enviro friendly, since tp goes down the drain into the ground, & potentially into the water supply, etc.  What to do? So, I found a company called Bumboosa, which has tp and other products made from bamboo.  Manufacturing process, sourcing, packaging all sound right, plus I kind of like the exotic sound of bamboo toilet paper.  Don't know about plastic-free shipping, but you might check them out online.  I know I will, as soon as I near the end of my supply.  Only 20 rolls left….

Beth Terry
404 Posts
January 23, 2012 - 6:28 am

Hi Eve. I actually do know about Bumboosa, although I haven’t tried it. I mentioned it in my book as an alternative. Let us know how you like it. I still have a ton of 7th Gen to use up. And I guess I haven’t worried that much about the BPA in my recycled TP since I’ve done so much to get it out of my life in other ways.

January 27, 2012 - 10:27 am

You mean they open the little bags of cheese for the salad bar?  I always thought they had much larger ones.  Sure, it's still plastic, but way less plastic per person.  Maybe it depends on the store.  I know when I worked in food service one summer, pickles and olives came in five gallon buckets. 

Beth Terry
404 Posts
January 27, 2012 - 11:06 am

According to my contact, she’s seen them grab bags off the shelf. I don’t know if this happens all the time or just in a pinch when they run out of stuff. And I don’t know if it’s every store.

June 12, 2014 - 8:12 pm

You should give Bum Boosa a Try.. not only are they free of plastic but they are tree free also. This toilet tissue is made from bamboo which is much more renewable and eco friendly than regular toilet paper and does not use all of the crazy chemical processing that normal TP does.

January 19, 2016 - 3:24 pm

 I used to fall for anything made out of bamboo, think it was one of the great alternative to plastic but i think more research need to be done as it turns out the preservation of bamboo, once cut and to turn it into fibers requires some heavy chemicals. 

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