Seventh Generation: Top TP

Even toilet paper is getting recycled. (Photo: Tony Webster [CC by 2.0]/Flickr)

With more recycled content toilet paper options on store shelves than there was a couple of years ago (a good thing) it can be bewildering as to what brand to buy (a bad thing).

Greenpeace USA’s new Recycled Tissue and Toilet Paper Guide ranking these two products — along with paper towels and disposable napkins —makes picking and choosing a truly sustainable loo roll or box of tissues a bit easier. The guide separates the good, the bad and the ugly of consumer paper products in a pocket-sized chart that can be downloaded and printed out for easy reference.

The criteria: Products must be 100 percent recycled, contain at least 50 percent post-consumer content, and be bleached without toxic chlorine compounds. Products that meet three criteria are “recommended,” products that meet two “can do better,” and products that meet one are no criteria “are to be avoided.”

Seventh Generation received positive rankings in all four product categories as did Green Forest, 365 and Natural Value. Products from companies likes Trader Joe's and Earth First earned more mixed scores. Target and Wal-Mart scored poorly across the board.

From a press statement released by Seventh Generation:

"These kinds of products and the issues they address aren't very glamorous," said Seventh Generation's Chief Inspired Protagonist Jeffrey Hollender. "But they're hugely important for consumers to understand and to purchase. The wrong kind of paper products destroy forests and create some of the most hazardous pollution dumped into our air and water by any industry. The Greenpeace guide is a reminder that even small choices matter a lot and that if we make the right ones when we shop, we can make a big difference in the health of the world and families."

If I were to rate myself based on purchasing habits, I must confess that I scored, ahem, fairly. I’m finicky about toilet paper so I tend to buy the Rolls Royces of the TP market like Kleenex’s puppy-preferred Cottonelle and Quilted Northern, both which scored poorly. I don’t use paper towels often (thank you Sham Wow! and a drawer full of dishcloths and rags) but when I do buy them I opt for recycled paper makes, usually the store’s house brand. My box of tissues is currently Seventh Generation and my paper napkin supply is rather limited. Again, I opt for dishcloths, linens or coasters.