Plant Paper, A New Toilet Paper Alternative for Body and Eco-Conscious Individuals

This post is in partnership with Plant Paper, a toilet paper company focused on creating an everyday product that is both body and eco-conscious. All thoughts and opinions are my own. If you wish to check out Plant Paper in person, they can be found at OtherWild General – a bulk and zero waste store located in Los Angeles, CA. 

Environmental change isn’t going to happen overnight placed in a consumer’s hands. At least, not enough of it. Sufficient change required to turn the tide will involve support from large organizations and changes at the macro-level by government bodies. But as a person who believes in the strength of the smallest of action, I also think we, as consumers, have some power. That power is strengthened when our product choices are intentional, especially when buying products required for daily activities whose redundancy magnifies the effect of our actions.

So here we are again, talking about toilet paper.

Toilet paper is a privilege, which I spoke about in my original post featuring Who Gives a Crap.  But for most people in the United States, toilet paper is a “necessity”. And when certain household products are viewed as such, it becomes more urgent to source these products mindfully. If we can curb the way we use, purchase, and choose toilet paper, then we can really make an impact.

So after a year of advocating WGAC, which is based in Australia, I was ever so excited to come across a California company also shedding light on creating eco-freindly toilet paper alternatives.

Introducing … PLANT PAPER!

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Plant Paper is a company imagined by Lee Reitelman and Joshua Solomon, two individuals who recognized that the ways in which we produce toilet paper does not align with neither our bodies nor our environment. The two then partnered with Scott Barry, creative director of LA’s all day breakfast joint, Sqirl, and on a December morning in 2019, I was able to hop onto a call with Rachel Eubanks, business and life partner of Scott.

The calling to create new toilet paper came after Reitelman and Solomon recognized the amount of energy, formaldehyde and chlorine it takes to convert wood to soft paper. We have a tree-based system of toilet paper-making that was not in effect until the Scott Brothers and Dupont Chemical got into the business. Prior to their invention of the toilet paper that we now see in our minds, toilet paper was made from hemp and sugarcane, both materials that take less chemicals and water to dissolve. The first person to ever invent toilet paper was actually Dr. Gayetty and his T.P. was of hemp!

Interestingly enough, when Gayetty first introduced toilet paper to the public, it did not take. Most consumers at the time could not fathom why one would pay for paper that you throw away. It wasn’t until after the 1880’s that toilet paper began to be seen as a product that signifies upper middle class status – and when you have a product that sells a lifestyle, well, it sells itself.

One thing’s for sure. With the growing attention on climate change, intentional living, and ethical consumer consumption, Reitelman and Solomon are right. “Tree paper should be, and will be, a thing of the past.”

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Great for the Environment, Swell for the Bum

The focus of Plant Paper is to create a toilet paper that is good for the body and the environment. The amount of chemicals used in the production of paper used to wipe butts is a long list – the most toxic ingredient included is chlorine which is used as chlorine bleach.

When you think of toilet paper, what color comes to mind? Usually, white. All white toilet paper require a bleaching process that turns the paper from a natural brown tree-color to a color that is deemed “sanitary”. Plant Paper wishes to change consumer perception of what toilet paper looks like. Plant Paper is BROWN, and avoids harsh chemicals such as bleaching agents and formaldehyde. If we can get people to embrace naturally colored toilet paper, then we can eliminate unnecessary chemicals that we are essentially wiping all over our bodies.

In fact, I would wager that not many Americans are aware of the fact that 37 gallons of water go into every roll of tree paper, plus a gallon of chemicals. Chemicals such as bleach and formaldehyde are known to cause UTI’s, hemorrhoids, and fissures in our bodies. But these are things we’ve grown accustomed to because we don’t stop to think that there is another way. 50 to 60% of women will get UTI’s in their lifetime and half of all people will get hemorrhoids by age 50. Something to think about.

Additionally, we must consider the environmental implications. Options on the market for eco-conscious toilet paper include recycled paper such as that of Seventh Generation, which is where most conversations stop. However, the resources required to recycle paper are often more than simply producing from new trees. In a world where resources in general are running scarce, we must consider more than the number of trees we save. We must consider the true cost. Recycled paper is no longer an option that is good enough.

Plant Paper looked at alternatives to both trees and recycled paper. They landed on the notion of using a type of grass to produce their toilet paper. Grasses grow incredibly faster than trees do. They first considered hemp as an option but eventually landed on bamboo, one of the fastest growing grasses in the world. Bamboo can grow up to 36 inches every 24 hours. Because of this choice, they had to turn make their production China-based, which means there is the logistic of still shipping their toilet paper half-way around the world.

When asked how they mitigate that choice, Rachel from Plant Paper explains that they try to reduce the impact by shipping in containers and sending in bulk. This reduces the shipping frequency, and all fulfillment of orders originate from centers in North Carolina. Currently, all orders may only be made via their online site, but the goal is to bring ethical toilet paper to locations near you.

Their dream is to eventually create a dispensary system where people are encouraged to bring their own bag and take as many rolls home as they need. Currently, they have their toilet paper stocked at OtherWild General in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles. You can find Plant Paper in the Zero Waste/Bulk Section of the general store. Hopefully, these babies will start popping up at more folk shops and zero waste stores.

Beyond Environment and Health

To say that the environmental and health benefits are secondary to the real reason behind the creation of Plant Paper is true. This goes beyond current consumer trends and green washing and embracing the new status symbols of upper middle class. The true reason to buy a product like Plant Paper is simply because it is the best product out there.

We are a society trained to be content with unsatisfactory products and to accept that “it is what it is”, so much so that we even have a saying for it. We can no longer settle for mediocrity. We got to the point where we created recycled toilet paper with Seventh Generation, ticked off the box that said we were eco-conscious consumers, and stopped further conversation. But that’s not where it ends.

Plant Paper pushes the envelope to do more. How can we replace trees with a more sustainable material? How can we deconstruct the expectation that toilet paper should be white and thereby get away from all the chemicals? How can we reduce the amount of toilet paper usage all together? Perhaps we raise awareness of the recentness of toilet paper, and tell the story of it’s initial rejection by society. Perhaps we shed light on the fact that it is a monopoly controlled by one company, and that is why change at the macro-level is so difficult to achieve. All of this was discussed in my one hour conversation with Rachel, and it has got me excited about this company.

As Reitelman and Solomon worded it in another interview, we’ve created a hybrid car but the end point is an all electric vehicle.

The Verdict:

So now, the question most of you wish to be answered: How is the quality of toilet paper?

Plant Paper is double-sided and 3-ply. One side is soft and silky, what the team jokingly say is for dabbing, whereas the opposite side is textured, you know… for grabbing. With a smile on my face and a giggle in the air, I can see that it is this kind of whimsical thinking and creativity that has the power to change the world.

The branding for Plant Paper is simple, at best. Unlike Who Gives A Crap’s enthusiastic and colorful branding, Plant Paper may appeal more to minimalists who wish not to inundate their bathroom with colorfully wrapped rolls. If I am being honest, I myself prefer a more calm loo environment that reminds me of a zen spa and am relieved to know that such an eco-conscious option exists. Additionally, I prefer the buy-as-you-need approach of Plant Paper over the bulk orders of Who Gives A Crap. I think that what separates Plant Paper from Who Gives A Crap is their vision to be a wellness product in addition to being an environmentally friendly product, but what sells it to me is their hope to change a social norm by getting consumers to question, “Why?”

If you wish to try Plant Paper for yourself, I highly do recommend. I do not receive a commission from Plant Paper for your purchase.

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Getting to Know: Michaela Puterbaugh, Founder of Starting from Within

Michaela Puterbaugh is a health and wellness coach based in Cleveland, Ohio, guiding people towards the balanced, healthy lifestyle that fits their needs. She followed her passion and opened Starting From Within, her own coaching program, in May 2019. Her emphasis on an individualized program deviates from the normally structured rigidity of other wellness programs that can sometimes suffocate the motivation needed to succeed. Health and wellness looks different for everybody. Likewise, the path getting there can also be different. Her program focuses on creating simple, everyday habits catered to your lifestyle that will promote life-long health benefits. Not only does she focus on a nourishing diet, but she also emphasizes the importance of lower stress levels, daily movement, and a good night’s sleep. Her belief in everyone’s own ability to heal themselves is what empowers so many of her clients.

I must admit that, in the year 2019, and for the majority of my life (barring 2018), when it came to choosing myself over other things, I was always the first thing to go. Between the bakery and sleep, my clinical patients and my posture, the dogs that needed sitting and my own cat, other people’s needs and my wants, the latter in all of those is what I gave up. I acknowledge that I am very bad at saying no, am very motivated by a desire to be perceived as good and successful, and am very much overwhelmed, stressed and tired at all times. I recognize now that, in much the same way that I needed help in developing my frugal muscles and honing in on the skills needed to set my finances up for future success, I also need guidance in doing the same for my own well-being.

I met Michaela online, randomly, like kindred spirits drawn to each other despite miles of separation. I loved her content at Starting From Within’s Instagram and her positive personality (good vibes welcome). I knew I had to share all the good things she is doing! I interviewed Michaela to share with you guys a little bit about what attracted me to her coaching style.

I also signed up for SFW’s health and wellness coaching program, as a gift to myself for the New Year and the New decade. Now that we’ve graduated from Certified Financial Planning services, it’s time to redirect those resources into continued learning elsewhere. If you’ve been interested in doing the same, now’s the time.

Here’s a bit about what Starting from Within has to offer.


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Tell our audience a little bit about yourself.

My name is Michaela and I am originally from Canton, Ohio but now live in Cleveland with my partner Sam and our dog Arthur! I graduated from Oberlin College with a degree in Comparative Literature and Hispanic Studies but decided to follow my passion– health and wellness. I ended up enrolling in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and received my health coaching certificate in May of 2019! Upon graduating, I started my own practice called Starting From Within where I coach people individually, lead workshops, and teach wellness programs!

What inspired you to start your health and wellness coaching business, Starting from Within?

I have always been amazed by the power of nourishing foods and healthy lifestyle habits and their impact on overall health. I do not think enough people realize that their small daily habits matter when it comes to living a healthy life and preventing disease. I want to be a support resource for anyone who is trying to eat healthier, manage stress levels, incorporate daily movement, or sleep better. I do believe that each person is entirely capable of healing themselves if given the right opportunity which is why I named my practice Starting From Within 🙂

What are the services your future clients can look forward to?

I love to work with people through an individualized approach. People all have different needs, so I try to honor that individuality and not just apply a one-size-fits-all approach. I offer one on one, bi-monthly sessions (in-person or virtual) to get to know each other, set clear goals, and break those goals down into manageable steps. I always provide resources that align with my client’s overall health vision such as recipes, books, journal prompts, grocery lists, handouts, podcasts– you name it!  My mission is to help people improve their diet and lifestyle in a way that works for them.

What is your philosophy regarding health? Worded another way, what does being healthy mean to you?

To me, “being healthy” encompasses the state of our mental, physical, and social well-being. How we feel, how we think, how we move, how we eat, how we sleep, how we deal with stress, how we treat ourselves and how we treat others is a huge part of it. I think being healthy is about finding that balance between all of those things while living out our life’s purpose.

In what ways do you lead by everyday example? What are your daily health habits?

I love cooking with whole foods and creating delicious, easy plant-based meals for myself and my family. I also love exercising and try to incorporate some form of that into my days such as spinning, lifting, or running. I’ve learned that exercise for me clears my mind, gives me energy, and helps me sleep better at night. On a deeper level, I have been trying to get more in touch with my intuitive self through journaling and meditation each morning. I find that those two things are not only helpful in managing stress, but also great ways to get to know myself and my mind a little better.

On Instagram, you share numerous recipes for healthy eating. I love that your recipes are simply made and am very grateful that they hardly require a long list of ingredients. In terms of ingredients, what is your top advice when it comes to sourcing food?

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Local, seasonal, and organic is ideal! Growing your own food is even better. However, not everyone can do that or is able to afford organic produce all the time. So I would recommend checking out the Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen lists to know which fruits and veggies are heavily sprayed with pesticides and which aren’t.  I love buying produce from farmers markets because a lot of the local farmers grow their crops without pesticides even though they don’t have the organic certification.

My #1 advice for anyone is to try to eat food in its most pure form. So cooking with whole fruits and vegetables and avoiding things that have been heavily processed. With a little olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder you can make anything taste good!

I think that people get lost in all the fads when, in actuality, the best solution is to eat simply. I am a pretty big believer in eating what we have historically allowed our bodies to adapt to. The food industry is changing so quickly these days, and I believe that we are putting our bodies through a roller coaster ride, making it hard for our bodies to keep up with all the changes. What are your thoughts on that?

I completely agree. I think as a society we are actually really confused on what to eat, how much we should eat, when the best time to eat is, etc. Admittedly, it can get tricky since big companies and brands fund a lot of research and since food advertising is everywhere. I think that if we block out the background noise and really try to get in tune with our own bodies, the answers become a lot more clear. Each one of us has a completely unique biology, so I don’t think it is ever helpful to follow these fads or trends. By adhering to certain diets, we actually lose touch of our innate hunger and fullness cues and ignore what our bodies actually really need. This brings me to the concept of intuitive eating which involves rejecting the diet mentality and healing the relationship with food. This disconnection is an issue I see a lot in my practice and believe it is a bi-product of our diet-obsessed culture.

You probably expected this question, but what are your thoughts on the gluten-free fad? I am working with farmers preserving ancient heritage grains that are nutritionally beneficial to our bodies (freshly-milled prior to mixing). I try to adhere to traditional sourdough making processes in order to make bread more gut-friendly. I am worried that gluten substitutes will be part of the rapid changes that make up the roller coaster ride. What is your honest opinion?

I love the work that you are doing to ensure that your bread is made with quality ingredients! I really wish that our food industry was made up of more people like you who truly care about what they are offering to consumers. I personally am not gluten-free and don’t believe that everyone should be on a permanent gluten-free diet if they do not have celiac disease. The most important thing is making sure that the food we eat is made from quality ingredients. That goes for bread too. The typical bread laying on the grocery store shelves for weeks is usually loaded with preservatives, ultra-processed and yes, very inflammatory. However, so much of the gluten-free substitutes that are out there now are also super processed and made with a whole list of ingredients that aren’t any better for us. Whether you eat bread or not, make sure that whatever you are eating is made from high quality ingredients!

What are your top five staple ingredients to always have around in the kitchen?

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Sprouted oatmeal
  • Some type of cruciferous veggie (cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage)
  • Japanese sweet potato

What foods are best for energizing the body? How about the mind?

Any fruit or veggie in its most whole form nourishes the body and mind at such a cellular level. Knowing where your food comes from such as your local farmers market or your own garden also adds such an energizing quality to it because it was most likely grown with love and didn’t have to travel far to get to you. The way we eat also affects how we digest foods and use them for energy. For example, when we sit at a table, un-distracted and relaxed, we are creating the perfect environment for our digestive system to do what it’s exactly supposed to do. When we feel stressed, our body feels it too and can divert the blood flow away from our digestive system. That stress affects the way we digest food and absorb certain nutrients which can lead to gas, bloating, and indigestion. So back to your question– I believe that eating in a relaxed state and eating whole fruits and vegetables is the best source of energy for our mind and body!

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Do you believe in foods that nourish the soul? For example, I know that coffee is sometimes considered unhealthy. But it enriches the soul in so many ways (mine anyway!). We think of health as a part of the physical world, but can health perhaps be a part of the spiritual as well? I don’t need coffee to be productive, but it sure warms me up from the inside.

I am so with you on that! Coffee often makes me feel very jittery but I love it because I am usually drinking it with good company in a cozy spot 🙂 I absolutely believe in certain foods that nourish the soul such as a grandmas old recipe or even a favorite childhood restaurant. My biggest piece of advice on that is to be completely present and fully enjoy whatever it is that nourishes your unique soul even if it’s not the best quality or the best for you. Connecting with food in that way can seriously go a long way for someone’s health!

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I know your work mostly revolves around food, but real briefly, would you care to share some thoughts on exercise? If you had to choose between healthful eating and exercising, which would you prefer?

Oh gosh I don’t think I could pick between the two! They are both necessary components in my overall vision of well-being. I love exercising and believe it is super important! As I mentioned earlier, regular exercise has been shown to improve sleep and mood, increase energy, enhance cognitive function, and so much more! There are so many different ways to exercise but the most beneficial type is the one you LOVE to do. If it is something you love doing or if it makes you feel empowered, you will stick with it.

What is your favorite detox regimen?

I don’t necessarily believe in detox regimens or juice cleanses because our body does it naturally for us. However, I do think there are ways that we can support the natural detoxification process by getting quality sleep each night, drinking lots of water, eating cruciferous veggies, and drinking green tea. I also like to start my mornings with a big glass of warm lemon water which may also support detoxification.

These days, I hear more frequently that the cause of certain symptoms (such as skin problems) is stress-related. We live in a fast-paced world. In what ways do you show self-care?

Yes I really do think stress manifests itself in so many ways in the body. It also shows up differently for different people. I think it is more important than ever to find ways to manage stress and practice them regularly. For me, I love to have a consistent meditation practice. I also like to limit my time on technology to give my mind a break. Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive or look a certain way– getting outside, breathing fresh air, exercising, laughing, playing with my dog, having meaningful relationships are all forms of self-care in my book! We shouldn’t look at self-care like it’s a luxury, instead we have to view it as something that is completely necessary to our well-being.

I love that last thought on self-care as a necessity rather than a luxury. Lastly, in honor of the New Year, out with the bad and in with the good. How do you suggest we start anew?

I think realizing that at any moment, we have the opportunity to make a change so why wait until New Years? People put a lot of pressure on New Years resolutions and if they don’t end up working (which many don’t), they view themselves as failures. Instead, I would advise picking up a small habit that is aligned with a larger vision and start today! Starting out with small steps makes a bigger goal much more attainable and likely to happen. Always remember to treat yourself with compassion, be flexible, and view it is a learning process.

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Favorite books: 

  • Intuitive Eating (to reject the diet mentality)
  • Deliciously Ella (a delicious, super simple plant-based cookbook)
  • In Defense of Food (to rethink our food industry)
  • A Monk’s Guide to Happiness (if you are new to meditation)
  • City of Girls (just a fun fiction read 🙂

This post is not sponsored by Starting from Within. All recommendations are truly from the heart and from experience. I have signed up with SFW’s health and wellness coaching program myself, in an effort to focus more on a balanced and healthy lifestyle. If you wish to look into what she can offer you for the new decade, set up a free 30-minute consultation here