The Environmental Impact of excessive toilet paper and paper toilet cover usage

Insights for Building Service and Facilities Managers

The discourse on modern-day environmental conservation often focuses religiously on large-scale industrial practices, with images of billowing black smoke, or flashy new technologies in electrification or energy generation. Rarely do we consider the mundane activities of daily life, such as using public restrooms, as significant contributors to environmental degradation. However, bathroom habits can have surprisingly substantial ecological consequences. In this article, we specifically focus on the various behaviors users exhibit in response to dirty toilet seats, and their impact on the environment.

The Surprising Cost of Cleanliness

It’s common practice for individuals to layer toilet seats with copious amounts of toilet paper to avoid direct contact with potentially unsanitary surfaces. While offering a temporary sense of security, this makeshift solution consumes excessive amounts of resources, such as single-use, non-recyclable toilet paper.


The Toll on Resources and Infrastructure

The excessive use of toilet paper depletes forestry resources and leads to significant water wastage. Between growing, harvesting, and manufacturing, a single roll of toilet paper can consume up to 37 gallons of water during production. This translates to an astronomical volume of water when scaled to global usage levels. Some organizations estimate that around 27,000 trees are cut down each day to meet the demand for toilet paper. Moreover, flushing large quantities of paper contributes to sewage system clogs, disrupting municipal water treatment operations and necessitating costly maintenance.

The Hidden Environmental Cost of Paper Toilet Seat Covers

A False Sense of Environmental Friendliness

Paper toilet seat covers, which are often perceived as a cleaner alternative to toilet paper, present their environmental dilemmas. In addition to also being non-recyclable, paper toilet seat covers include a plastic coating designed to repel liquids that might be on the seat. While this eliminates the need for multiple layers of paper, the plastic coating prevents the covers from degrading correctly, leading to frequent sewage system clogs. These clogs can be extraordinarily costly for businesses, and many managers explicitly state, “Please do not flush anything except toilet paper” near toilets.


Sustainable Alternatives and Innovations

Rethinking Restroom Design

Addressing the environmental impact of restroom hygiene habits requires innovative thinking and design. Automatic, self-cleaning toilet seats offer a promising solution for reducing waste by eliminating the need for makeshift covers. Leading companies in the plumbing industry, such as LIXIL Water Technologies, Kohler, and Zurn-Elkay, have advanced high-efficiency toilets that can further mitigate the environmental burden by conserving water and preventing clogs.

Reducing paper waste with automatic, mess-preventing toilet seats

Cleana has introduced the world’s first self-lifting, mess-preventing toilet seat to elevate restroom cleanliness and reduce excess restroom waste. The seat was designed with ease of use and ecological impact in mind and can function without any batteries or power input. With a built-in pressure sensor, the seat detects when it’s not in use and lifts itself automatically. This ingenious change reduces everyday toilet messes by more than >90% and significantly decreases toilet paper and paper-cover usage in response to dirty conditions.


Eco-Conscious Consumer Choices

Educating the public about the environmental consequences of their restroom habits is crucial in fostering more sustainable practices. Opting for recycled content in paper products and supporting facilities that utilize environmentally friendly restroom technologies can significantly impact global paper and water usage. Additionally, businesses and public spaces can play a pivotal role by adopting green restroom technologies and materials, signaling a commitment to ecological responsibility.

The Potential of Policy and Regulation

Governmental policies and regulations can also steer public restroom practices toward sustainability. Incentives for businesses to install water-saving fixtures, mandates for using recycled materials in paper products, and stricter standards for the biodegradability of toilet seat covers could collectively shift the industry towards more sustainable practices.

Conclusion: A Call for Environmental Stewardship in Restrooms

The environmental implications of hygiene in public restrooms are far-reaching, touching on issues like water conservation, waste management, and climate change. By embracing technological innovations, making informed consumer choices, and advocating for policy changes, we can transform these everyday practices into opportunities for environmental stewardship. The journey towards sustainability is complex and multifaceted, but we can contribute to a healthier planet for future generations by addressing even the most overlooked aspects of our daily routines.

About Cleana:

Cleana, a Boston-based startup founded by Boston University and MIT engineers, is revolutionizing restroom hygiene with its innovative, non-electric toilet seat technology. Their patented solutions automatically lift toilet seats in public bathrooms, ensuring over 90% cleanliness by preventing everyday messes. In the home, their toilet seats auto-close, protecting the open bowl against pets, toddlers, and dropped items while improving its aesthetics with its premium design. Cleana’s technology is maintenance-free and can be installed on any toilet in under five minutes. It also functions without needing batteries or power, providing a cleaner, safer, and more convenient bathroom experience.

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Andy Chang

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