These days, products are made from a wide range of different materials. Some of them are completely new, while others have been used for centuries, like hemp.
Hemp has a wide range of potential uses, and one of the most promising is its use in eco-friendly toilet paper. In this article, we’re going to examine the benefits of hemp toilet paper and why this material is such a great choice for toilet tissue.
Why should you consider switching to hemp toilet paper?
If you start to look critically at the common household items in your home, from toothpaste to candles, you’ll quickly realize how damaging many of them are to the environment. This is particularly true of one of our most basic essentials, humble toilet paper.
The average American uses 141 toilet rolls a year, and regular toilet paper is devastating for the environment, from sourcing the raw materials to producing the final product.
Traditional toilet paper is usually made from wood pulp, an industry that causes deforestation, either by harvesting old-growth forests or destroying other wild habitats in order to plant mono-culture plantations for wood production.
Both of these cause habitat destruction and make plants and animals in danger of extinction. Old-growth forests are also important carbon storage which plays a key role in slowing the rate of climate change, and so destroying them will speed up global warming.
The production process to make regular toilet paper is also devastating to the environment. Wood pulp needs to go through a series of harsh chemical and bleaching processes to turn it into soft, white toilet tissue. These chemicals then pollute our waterways and can also damage natural habitats.
Finally, once we throw the toilet paper away, it cannot biodegrade easily, and releases further chemicals into the environment as it does so.
Hemp on the other hand, is highly biodegradable, renewable, and can be grown, harvested and produced without as many negative impacts on the natural environment.
7 great things about hemp toilet paper
Let’s dive a little deeper into the properties that make hemp is such a great choice for toilet paper.
1. Hemp toilet paper is highly biodegradable
Hemp toilet paper can be produced without the chemicals and toxins that are used to make regular toilet paper. Therefore, they can be composted back into the soil without negative effects on the environment.
Equally, your hemp toilet paper will break down without these chemicals damaging your septic tank and our waterways.
Furthermore, hemp materials are very biodegradable in general, from hemp paper to hemp fabric. When it comes to toilet paper, hemp breaks down more quickly and with much less water than conventional toilet paper.
In fact, hemp is the most biodegradable of any kind of tissue paper.
2. Hemp toilet paper is softer than regular paper
Hemp toilet paper is made from bast fibers that come from the inner parts of the plant’s stem. These fibers are naturally softer than those that come from other parts of the plant, such as the leaf.
Bast fibers are not unique to hemp: they are found in various plants, from linen (flax) to banana plants.
Because it is made from hemp bast fibers, hemp toilet paper is soft and supple. This is a great asset for this kind of product. After all, who doesn’t want to use soft toilet paper!
Regular toilet paper, on the other hand, is made from wood pulp which has coarser and less flexible fibers than hemp bast fibers.
3. Hemp toilet paper is durable
Hemp is used to make a range of products, from bags to building materials because it is one of the strongest and most durable fibers found in nature. We’ve already seen that hemp toilet paper is made from the plant’s bast fibers, which are strong and flexible, making this product extra durable.
Along with softness, durability is one of the most important qualities in a toilet paper. Another great property of hemp papers is that they can absorb up to four times its weight in water, making them ideal for toilet paper and paper towels.
4. Hemp toilet paper is antibacterial
Hemp fibers have a number of antibacterial and antifungal properties, thanks to the many natural, bioactive compounds found in the plant, including cannabinoids and alkaloids. This translates into hemp toilet paper also being antibacterial.
Antibacterial properties are a huge asset when it comes to toilet paper, as this can help to reduce the risk of infections in our sensitive areas, particularly for women. Contrast this to other toilet paper that can cause yeast infections, UTIs, allergic reactions, and discomfort.
5. Hemp toilet paper is renewable
Regular toilet paper is usually made from wood pulp, which you may think is a renewable resource. After all, trees can be replanted, so isn’t this renewable?
Not quite. You see, wood pulp often comes from old-growth forests (most of the wood pulp used in the US is sourced from ancient boreal forests in Canada). In this way, wood is not really a renewable resource, as these forests take hundreds if not thousands of years to regenerate.
Hemp, on the other hand, can be harvested after just 70 days of growth, making it truly renewable.
Compare this to trees planted for paper production, which take eight to 20 years per life cycle, and old-growth forests that take centuries to replace.
Furthermore, the hemp plant can rebalance nutrients in the soil, meaning that new crops can be sown in the same place without the need for chemical fertilizers.
Hemp toilet paper is also often made from the waste fibers from producing other hemp products, making this an even more sustainable option.
Finally, hemp paper is highly recyclable: you can recycle hemp paper up to seven times, compared to just three times for paper made from wood pulp. This means there is huge potential for making recycled toilet paper from other hemp products.
6. Hemp toilet paper produces more material per acre than trees
Toilet paper is made from plant fibers, which is essentially cellulose. Trees are 30% cellulose, while the hemp plant contains 85% cellulose.
Therefore, the hemp plant produces much more cellulose fibers and so more toilet paper than wood pulp.
Additionally, a large amount of hemp can be grown on a single acre of land – up to 10 tons in fact! These factors combined mean that hemp produces four times as many cellulose fibers per acre compared to trees.
Why is this so important? Because the less land used to produce the toilet paper (and everything else) we use, the less forests and other wild habitats are destroyed as part of the production process.
Every year, around 28 million hectares of forest are cut down. Deforestation is a huge environmental problem because it destroys native habitats, causes species extinction and contributes to climate change.
7. Hemp toilet paper is not as harmful to the environment
Along with being more eco-friendly from the perspective of deforestation and climate change, hemp toilet paper is more environmentally-friendly than regular toilet paper in other ways too.
Hemp crops require very little water, reducing the strain on this precious resource. Additionally, hemp doesn’t need any fertilizers or pesticides to grow, and so these harmful chemicals are not released into the environment.
The production process to make hemp toilet paper is also more eco-friendly. Wood pulp fibers need to be broken down with harsh chemicals to create toilet paper, but hemp fibers don’t need this kind of treatment, again limiting the use of environmentally-damaging chemicals.
Furthermore, because less energy, water, and chemicals are required from the start to the end of the process, hemp toilet paper is actually cheaper to manufacture than regular toilet paper, making this a win-win-win!
As we look for ways to be more eco-friendly in our daily lives and lessen our impact on the environment, we need to look to new ways of doing things and new materials. Hemp is a fantastic, eco-friendly material.
It is renewable, biodegradable, requires very little water or land and virtually no chemicals to grow, and is easy to process. Being soft yet durable, it is also ideal for making toilet paper.
With all these properties, and being much kinder to the environment than regular toilet paper, hemp toilet paper is truly a win-win for everyone!
If you want to switch to eco-friendly toilet tissue, check out our recommendations for zero-waste toilet paper.