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Green product watch: Best toilet paper 5/12
(This article is adapted from the March 2012 Consumer Reports magazine.)

In Consumer Reports tests on 25 toilet papers, green products got mixed results. Each was put through a battery of punishing processes to measure strength, softness, tearing ease, and disintegration rate, which can be important if your plumbing is prone to clogging.

Among the higher rated brands, Trader Joe’s Super Soft Bath Tissue, at 19 cents per 100 sheets, uses paper made from responsibly managed forests, is chlorine free, and comes packaged in environmentally responsible plastic wrap. Its packaging claims the “sheets of heaven” are “amazingly soft, yet strong and resilient.” In the tests, the paper was indeed very soft, but you’ll have to settle for less than sublime strength and tearing ease.

Toilet papers made from recycled content fared worse in the tests. Strength was the shortfall with Seventh Generation, at 22 cents per 100 sheets, though it excelled in other areas.

Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value, 18 cents per 100 sheets, and CVS’s Earth Essential, 8 cents per 100 sheets, were rated lowest because of their roughness, middling strength, and tearing ease. At least they offer excellent disintegration, making them an option for larger households, and those with septic systems, old pipes, or clog-prone plumbing.

Missing the tube

Rolls that do away with the inner cardboard tube are the latest thing in toilet-paper marketing. Scott Naturals Tube Free has the potential to “eliminate millions of pounds of materials from the waste stream,” according to its manufacturer. But when it was place on a standard toilet-paper holder to take it for a “spin,” it wasn’t as easy to unravel, and the paper didn’t tear off as easily. The roll was also harder to place in the holder.

Understanding the green claims

If a product that’s eco-friendly is your top requirement, look for toilet paper that’s made not just from recycled content, or trees from responsibly managed forests, but from fibers recovered from paper that would otherwise end up in a landfill or incinerator. And avoid recycled products that have been bleached white using chlorine, since that can pollute air and water.

Related links

Toilet paper buying guide. 4/12

Low-flow toilet buying guide. 1/12

"A Shopper’s Guide to Home Tissue Products," Natural Resources Defense Council.

Copyright © 2003-2012 by Consumers Union of United States., Inc., 101 Truman Avenue, Yonkers, NY 10703, a nonprofit organization. No downloading, transmission, photocopying, or commercial use permitted. Visit www.GreenerChoices.org.