We Tried Tree-Free Toilet Paper & Here’s What We Thought

published Oct 5, 2017
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Let me start this by just saying: this is about to get a little uncomfortable, because there’s really no way to write a toilet paper review without it feeling a little strange —for both of us. But hey, you clicked on this, which means you’re either morbidly curious or you’re really interested in a more sustainable toilet paper option—either way, totally valid. So, let’s get started, shall we?

I care about the environment, so I do my best to not waste water or electricity and to use products that are eco-friendly whenever possible. But one thing I’d never put much thought into before was toilet paper. I mean, we all use it every day, multiple times a day, but most of us probably don’t realize how many trees are used in the process. So, when I heard about tree-free toilet paper, I was instantly curious. Could toilet paper really be more sustainable? And if so, would it work as well as regular toilet paper?

I decided to try a new line of tree-free toilet paper products (both toilet paper and paper towels made from bamboo) from Rebel Green, a US-based natural and eco-friendly cleaning brand. According to the brand’s website, bamboo grows to maturity and is harvest-ready in about 3 to 4 months, while trees can take up to 30 years to fully regrow. In that case, going tree-free with a paper product that we all use daily could have a huge positive impact on the environment, so I was hopeful—but skeptical—that this alternative would be as pleasant to use as it is eco-friendly.

(Image credit: Rebel Green)

First Impressions

I was honestly really worried that this toilet paper wouldn’t be as soft or as strong and absorbent as the usual rolls I typically buy, but upon opening the package and feeling the product for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised. It was softer and felt thicker than I’d anticipated (I learned by looking at the package that it’s actually 3-ply, as opposed to the 2-ply that most brands offer), and it felt strong—almost as if it was more tightly-woven than normal tissue (though it might just be that it’s stronger because of the bamboo—I’m not sure how that works out scientifically). I was relieved, realizing this test might not be as bad as I thought.

And if you’re thinking “how could testing toilet paper really be that bad?” I’d like to ask you to take a moment and recall the last time you used 1-ply toilet paper that was as rough as it was nonabsorbent—not so pleasant, right? That’s what I was worried about initially, but now I felt at peace with my decision to, give this a… uh… go.

The Wipe Test

Look, I know you want to read the details here about as much as I want to share them, so let’s spare each other the awkwardness. It was fine! Soft (not quite at the level of those giant plushy Charmin rolls that are supposed to help you “enjoy the go,” but still comfortable), no weird ripping or crumbling, and the 3-ply made it so that I used less of it overall—no major wrapping or wadding required. I’d say it passed the wipe test with flying colors.

…Can we move on now?

The Roommate Test

I live and share a bathroom with two other ladies, and since switching out our toilet paper for this test meant subjecting them to it too, I felt it was important that I also get their opinion. I put the new toilet paper in the bathroom in the morning, then, that evening, casually mentioned it—not expecting the responses I got. Here’s how it went:

Me: “Oh, by the way, this morning I switched out the toilet paper for the eco-friendly stuff I’m testing out, let me know what you think.”

Both roommates at once: “Wait that’s the bamboo toilet paper? OMG! It’s so good! How much is it? Can we keep buying it?”

Over the next few days, they both kept remarking on how much longer the toilet paper was lasting us compared to how long it usually takes us to go through a roll, and they were right. If I had to estimate, one roll of the tree-free toilet paper lasted us about twice as long—give or take—as our usual brand. Definitely passed this test, too.

The Lipstick Test

If I was going to really, properly test out this toilet paper, I needed to use it for everything I would use my normal toilet paper for, and that includes blotting my lipstick. This was a super easy test—just blot with one sheet (I separated the layers to just use 1 out of the 3-ply at my disposal) and see if it rips or crumbles. It held up perfectly, so, it gets a pass.

The Nose-Blowing Test

Okay, so this bamboo toilet paper holds up to the wipe test and can blot lipstick with ease, but can it handle the occasionally sniffly nose? Again, we don’t need to talk details—just know that it works just fine. Again, no tearing or anything. Solid pass!

Other Brands

In addition to the Rebel Green brand I tried, there are an increasing number of tree-free options on the market. Amazon has several different bamboo-based brands including Caboo (Whole Foods carries it too), Emerald, TG Eco, and NatureZway. And Jet carries a tree-free brand called Bim Bam Boo which is a lot of fun to say.


Ease of Use: 10

This toilet paper looks, feels, and works exactly the same as the toilet paper I was already using everyday. It’s worth noting that I also tested the paper towels in the process too, and, much like their toilet tissue counterparts, I was impressed. For those reasons, I’m giving it a perfect 10.

Cost-Effectiveness: 7

Price-wise, Rebel Green’s toilet paper is on the higher end for toilet paper, but it’s still well within an acceptable range at $4.99 for a pack of four rolls, or about $1.25 per roll. For example, a 4-pack of Angel Soft brand toilet paper goes for $4.42 on Jet.com. But I usually shop at Target, so I’m used to buying their Up & Up brand where a 12-pack costs $4.99 (essentially, 3 times more product for the same price). My only real issue is that I haven’t been able to find it in stores yet—which means, if I want to keep buying it right now, I have to order it online.

Final Grade: 8.5

Is it weird to say I enjoyed testing out toilet paper? Probably (definitely), but it’s true. Like I said, I didn’t expect it to be this good, but the paper proved me wrong.