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It’s been a big year for toilet paper. Sales of the plush paper rolls jumped 845% earlier this year -- a number that somehow would have been higher had TP not sold out in stores across the country -- and it unfortunately seems as though we’re heading for our second Great Toilet Paper Stockpile this winter. My dad’s been a stockpiler for years, so my family has kept a hefty supply of our beloved Charmin thus far, but that hasn’t stopped us from imagining and discussing our worst-case-scenario plans each time we see an empty supermarket shelf. Needless to say, toilet paper has consumed a lot of my brain power this year -- and I imagine yours too.
So, when No. 2 offered to send me a carton of their stylish toilet tissue to test, I knew I’d be a fool to decline. However, I soon discovered that No. 2’s stylish toilet tissue is stylish bamboo toilet tissue. While I’m a huge proponent of eco-conscious consumption, I know there’s a line somewhere -- and worried bamboo toilet paper may unravel on the wrong side of it. All things considered, I tried No. 2… and was impressed with its solution to today’s seldom-discussed Toilet Paper Problem. Meet the enormous environmental issue you rarely hear about -- and thankfully, its smart, sustainable, and soft solution.
The Issue With Toilet Tissue
In addition to toilet tissue’s widely-discussed current availability issue, the product has a huge sustainability issue. Each day, toilet paper production consumes 27,000 trees, and most big companies use virgin wood fiber from the Canadian boreal forest in their processes. The destruction doesn’t stop there: companies like Cottonelle, Quilted Northern, Angel Soft, and Charmin (sigh) use a tremendous amount of energy, water, bleach, and formaldehyde to turn this wood fiber into ultra-plush toilet paper. Their processes are so harmful that the Natural Resources Defense Council issued each of those brands a D or F in their 2019 “The Issue With Tissue” report’s Sustainability Scorecard.
Americans are uniquely responsible for this issue: while we account for 4% of the world’s population, we are responsible for 20% of the world’s toilet paper consumption. And, while I can’t say I’m surprised that Americans don’t spend their time fretting over this issue, it feels pretty fret-able to me! Single-use plastics have faced their judgment day, but what about single-use paper? I understand that wiping is necessary -- but deforestation isn’t. And a new crop of sustainable toilet paper companies have emerged to prove it.
A Better Way To Wipe
No. 2 is one of the brands tackling Big TP and their harmful practices. Founded in 2018 by Samira Far, No. 2 has grown to be a customer-favorite (even earning a spot on Gwyneth Paltrow’s 2020 gift guide) for its sustainability, deliverability, branding, and packaging. Far originally set out to give a basic commodity a better-branded experience. However, she realized that toilet paper not only wasn’t branded well… it also wasn’t made well. In No. 2, she fixes both concerns.
To address toilet paper’s lack of design, Far created cute boxes filled with fun toilet paper rolls that are delivered to your doorstep in quantities of 8, 24, or 48 rolls as a one-time purchase or subscription. Each 3-ply, 240-sheet roll is wrapped in sustainable ink-, dye-, and scent-free recycled paper with a patterned design (they have 3 to choose from, plus the option to shop wrapping-free). With No. 2, toilet paper becomes a bathroom accessory -- stacking rolls on the ledge of your toilet adds a pop of fun and color rather than being an eyesore.
Additionally, No. 2’s toilet tissue is 100% bamboo, a resource far more sustainable than paper. Bamboo is one of the strongest and fastest-growing plants on the planet, reaching maturity in 4-6 years compared to the 20-50 years it takes a tree to recover from harvesting. But, No. 2’s commitment to sustainability doesn’t stop there -- each box is plastic-free, biodegradable, clog and septic safe, free of dyes, scents, and BPAs, and Responsible Forestry Certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
An Honest Bamboo Review
I receive a decent number of packages, and my family typically gathers around each to see what’s inside. However, no box has received as much fanfare as No. 2’s. I mean this quite literally -- my shipment arrived in a white box adorned with funny phrases like “your number one TP” and “this box contains ‘zero butt crumble’ rolls.” Yes, your postperson can see this, and yes, it is indeed hilarious. Inside, I found 8 rolls wrapped in bright, patterned paper -- and absolutely no plastic. From an aesthetic perspective, No. 2 checked all the first-impression boxes, but in all honesty, I was apprehensive about actually using the product.
I grew the courage to test No. 2 when my sister Erin moved in for the holidays -- we would be sharing a Jack and Jill bathroom, so I figured if bamboo toilet paper was that bad, at least I’d only have to use half a roll. It also helped to have Erin as my toilet paper consultant -- and share a bit of the spotlight right now as I discuss the intimate details of my wiping experience.
Erin liked No. 2 immediately. “The really plush, well-respected toilet paper brands sometimes leave… a bit of ‘butt crumble’ behind, to use No. 2’s terminology,” Erin explains. We agree that on the rough to plush spectrum, No. 2 isn’t as soft as Charmin, though it’s much softer than industrial brands like Sysco -- and Erin likes that: “It feels strong and durable. I like that it doesn’t break… and while it doesn’t feel like a blanket, it’s soft enough to feel comfortable.”
I won’t lie: it took me 2 days to adjust to No. 2. I initially thought Erin was bluffing, but then, its magic suddenly clicked. After my transition period, I grew to appreciate the strong, clean wipe No. 2 provides. Now, when I use an ultra-plush brand like Charmin, I’m put off by the blanket-soft feel… and I’ve realized how much crumble this softness leaves behind. You know the old saying: “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone”? With No. 2, I’ve realized I didn’t know what I had until I found something better.
Once you’re aware of the environmental issues American toilet paper companies are creating, it’s hard to justify shopping from them. Thankfully, No. 2 makes the transition to sustainability an easy one. While choosing the “environmentally friendly” brand sometimes feels like a downgrade, that’s honestly not the case with No. 2. A brief transition period to fully embrace No. 2 feels like a small ask for such a large and positive impact. Far and her team have done an amazing job revolutionizing a commodity: from ordering to delivery, unboxing to aesthetic -- and focusing on sustainability through every part of the buying journey -- No. 2 wipes away outdated practices and harmful competitors to introduce something better in each and every way.
Five More Reasons To Love No. 2
- Bamboo is one of the fastest growing and strongest plants on the planet -- and renews in a fraction of the time it takes trees.
- The brand has plastic-free packaging and is free of dyes, scents, and BPA.
- They’re Responsible Forestry Certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
- Their packaging and branding is cute -- a welcomed addition to any bathroom.
- They’re Goop-approved -- Gwenyth Paltrow even included them in her 2020 holiday gift guide!