Plastic-Free July in Croydon

Plastic-free loo rolls

Posted by Kake on 11 July 2014

So this one might seem trivial — of course loo rolls are plastic-free, they're made of paper! It’s the packaging that’s the problem, though; loo rolls in the UK are generally packaged in plastic. What’s the solution?

Compostable packaging

One option is to buy brands that are packaged in compostable wrappers[1], such as Suma Ecoleaf or Essential Trading. I don't know of anywhere in Croydon that sells these items, but there's a stockist in Balham, a mere minute's walk from the station, called As Nature Intended.

Ecoleaf and Essential products at As Nature Intended, Balham, July 2014.

As Nature Intended sells four-packs and nine-packs of Ecoleaf loo roll and four-packs of Essential loo roll (as well as two-packs of Ecoleaf paper towels). It also sells various unpackaged goods which I'll be discussing in a separate article! At the time of writing, it’s open 9am–8pm Monday to Friday, 9am–7pm Saturdays, and 10:30am–6:30pm Sundays and Bank Holidays. Its address is 186–188 Balham High Road, SW12 9BP.

As Nature Intended, Balham, July 2014.

Balham is convenient for me since I live very close to West Croydon Station which has six direct trains an hour, some of them taking as little as 16 minutes. East Croydon Station has three direct trains an hour, taking 15–17 minutes. All of these services are to/from Victoria, so if you’re a Victoria commuter why not break your homeward journey at Balham and check it out? As noted above, it’s open until 8pm on weekdays.

If going to Balham is too much of a faff, there’s always online ordering, though this means you also need to check whether the distributor uses any plastic in their own packaging.

Suma is a wholesale company, but its Ecoleaf products are available from several distributors including Amazon and Goodness Direct. I haven’t checked into how Amazon packages household goods for delivery, and in any case would rather support a business that treats its workers fairly. Goodness Direct state on their information page that they “use triple walled cardboard boxes which are totally recyclable and fill these with biodegradable air pouches which you can easily puncture and either recycle or compost.” They also sell Ecoleaf kitchen towels and facial tissues.

The Essential Trading Co-operative have their own online shop, and they tell me (via email, April 2014) that they “pack [their] products into recycled, degradable cardboard boxes”. They also sell kitchen towels (in the online shop, for both loo rolls and kitchen towels, look under “Eco Household”).

Ecoleaf loo rolls in my bathroom, July 2014.

Use tissues instead

Westy Writes suggests using tissues instead, which would work fine as long as you buy tissues with no plastic in the packaging. She found some at Tesco.

Small packages wrapped in paper

Andrex brand loo roll is available as 2-packs wrapped in paper. Thanks to a tip from bob, I found these at Beydagi Food Centre, 83–85 London Road — right at the back on a high shelf — but I suspect many small independent supermarkets and convenience stores will sell them. The packaging does indeed appear to be 100% paper (as opposed to plasticised paper).

Andrex loo rolls wrapped in paper.

Sheet paper bought in bulk

Another option is one I came across via a post on My Zero Waste, which suggests buying sheet toilet paper, as opposed to rolls. This is sold in bulk by office supplies companies such as Staples, and is generally packaged in paper and cardboard rather than plastic. Sheet toilet paper is intended to be used from a dispenser, but at home can just be placed in a basket next to the loo and used as-is. Staples even has it in a recycled version.

This isn't a solution for everyone. It requires spending a fair bit of money in one go (around £35) and also requires appropriate storage space. Small children might see the basket of sheets as a fun toy for tipping all over the floor, and cats might see it as a comfy place to sit, so those with pets or small people might not find this such a good idea. Also, since the closure of the Croydon branch of Staples, the only London branches are in Park Royal and Beckton, which isn’t particularly convenient for us. However, there may be other office supply outlets in Croydon that I'm not aware of — perhaps on Purley Way? — so I mention it as an option.

Footnotes and references

  1. As noted in my article on plastics I’m not cutting out, I’m continuing to use compostable plastics throughout the challenge.

Comments powered by Disqus.