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The new loo roll

If we can’t live without toilet paper, we need to change how it’s made
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
100% recycled and UK-made loo roll from Honest Supplies, stacked in a pyramid on a pine dresser

This article first appeared in our Organic September issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published on 14 September 2022. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

Future generations might well view the humble toilet roll as a symbol of everything that is wrong with humans today.

The first splinter-free commercial toilet paper didn’t land until 1930 – yet less than a century later, loo roll has become the ‘essential item’ we feel we can’t live without.

Over a week in September 2020, sales soared by 23% as panicked shoppers cleared shelves in what became dubbed ‘the great loo roll grab’.

Needless to say, demand for toilet roll is high – and as a result around 27,000 trees are cut down every day to make it. The paper is then wrapped in packaging that contributes to the 22,000 tonnes of plastic spewed into our oceans annually.

As things stand our obsession with loo roll involves taking resources we don’t need while polluting ecosystems our lives depend on. The impact on our planet is devastating, and cannot continue if we want biodiversity – or humanity – to thrive.

As with most of the damaging business practices behind modern lifestyles, there is an alternative. ‘By choosing recycled pulp, we’re saving 30,000 litres of water, 4,000kWh of electricity and 95% of air pollutants per tonne ‘, says Honest Supplies director Tom Keenes. ‘We’re proud to say that our toilet paper is the only UK recycled roll that is 200% carbon negative.’

Going plastic free

Tom is one of many who embarked on a ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ journey after watching Blue Planet and other hard-hitting documentaries with his family.

‘We became frustrated by the amount of unnecessary plastic packaging on everything we bought from the supermarket’, Tom explains. ‘We saw the waste we were throwing away and knew we needed to change if we had any hope of cleaning the planet for ourselves and future generations.’

A steep learning curve lay ahead for Tom and his family; breaking habits and discovering how to cut ties with plastic took time, effort and lots of research. A quick and easy opportunity to reduce household waste presented itself when the Keenes family moved to a small village with a local refill shop.

During their sustainable journey, Tom noticed lots of bamboo loo roll products; he thought about the thousands of miles they had to travel to reach UK shoppers, and working conditions in the factories where they were made.

He set out to create his own toilet paper – a ‘fantastic alternative’ that would help other families reduce their environmental impact while supporting UK jobs and manufacturing.

‘We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly – we need millions doing it imperfectly.’


Ethical loo roll

Honest Supplies was founded at the end of 2021 to fulfil a simple vision: to provide eco-friendly products for people who love our planet. It’s a family-run business that focuses on a small range of products as a strategy to ensure quality.

The range comprises 100% recycled 3 ply and 2 ply toilet paper in boxes of 24 rolls, plus natural blue roll in boxes of six.

Customers get an excellent price per roll – cheaper per sheet than leading bamboo brands – while reducing their plastic waste and carbon footprint.

As an example, each roll of 3 ply paper is 33m long and contains 280 sheets, meaning a box of 24 equates to 40 rolls of standard 3 ply toilet paper.

A 24-roll box of the 2 ply paper contains the equivalent of 42 rolls of standard 2 ply toilet roll.

All the products are completely free from plastic and made from 100% recycled paper.

‘Reusing what’s already in circulation, rather than cutting down trees or bamboo, helps to protect the habitats of wildlife and biodiversity’, Tom says. ‘We also think there is absolutely no need for toilet paper to be bleached white – it doesn’t matter what it looks like, so why add harmful chemicals? Our unbleached rolls are also softer and kinder to your skin.’

Emissions are kept to a minimum as all Honest Supplies’ sourcing, production and distribution takes place in the UK. This is how Tom can guarantee the products are ethically made, have minimal transport miles and support UK manufacturers.

Any emissions that can’t be avoided are offset through carbon reduction projects with Gold Standard certification. ‘This ensures that the carbon savings we report are accurate and the projects are seen to completion, creating local jobs and therefore supporting those communities’, Tom explains. Two tonnes of CO2 are removed for every tonne the company can’t avoid.

Eco products for all

Tom readily admits that the toughest part of cutting down his family’s waste was simply not knowing where to start. His advice today: take it one change at a time, and take it slow.

‘Make easy swaps that you are likely to continue doing and they will all start to add up’, Tom advises. ‘It’s OK to make mistakes. As we change our habits, more companies will start to realise demand has changed and more eco products will become available. As a new business, we’re excited to grow, reach customers across the UK and expand our range to ensure plastic-free, sustainable products are available to everyone.’

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