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6 Eco-Friendly Paper Towels That Don't Contribute To Deforestation

Emma Loewe
Author:
Updated on December 10, 2021
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director
By Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director
Emma Loewe is the Senior Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us."
Last updated on December 10, 2021
Our editors have independently chosen the products listed on this page. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.

When it comes to cleaning up around the house, few tools are as convenient as the trusty paper towel roll. But, like most things we use once and then throw away, these aren't the most eco-friendly.

Why, you ask? Since traditional white rolls are made from wood fibers that are broken down and dyed with bleach, they require a lot of water and energy to make—just to end up in the trash. Paper towels that have been whitened with chemicals are not compostable, and they're deemed unrecyclable once you use them to soak up food items like grease.

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Then, you have the deforestation issue: Imagine the number of trees that are chopped down to create the 3.7 million tons1 of paper towels Americans use each year.

One way to reduce the impact of your home cleaning is to use dishcloths or reusable paper towels on spills. But if you can't quite quit the convenience of a single-use option, at least go with one that is made from recycled material or less threatened plants like bamboo.

This will help ensure that no old-growth forests—valuable allies in the fight against climate change—are chopped down to clean up your messes.

Here are six more eco-friendly options to add to your cart:

1. Seventh Generation 100% Recycled Paper Towels - Unbleached

Why they're better: Compostable, made from recycled material

Seventh Generation's paper towels are unbleached, made of 100 percent recycled paper, and don't use any added dyes or inks, so you can throw them right into your compost bin after use.

Seventh Generation 100% Recycled Paper Towels - Unbleached ($4.99/6 rolls)

brown paper towels in clear packaging
Seventh Generation

2. Bambooee Reusable Bamboo Towel

Why they're better: Reusable, made from bamboo

A cross between a dishcloth and a single-use paper towel, Bambooee reusable towels are super strong and machine washable (up to 100 times). They are made from bamboo fibers—a popular paper alternative that is quick to regrow and doesn't contribute to the deforestation of ancient forests. (Learn more about the material's pros and cons here.)

Bambooee Reusable Bamboo Towel ($9.99/roll)

roll of washable paper towels with bamboo on packaging
Bambooee

3. Everspring™ 100% Recycled Paper Towels

Why they're better: Made from recycled material

These paper towels from Target's home cleaning brand Everspring™ are made from recycled material and carry the Forest Stewardship Council Certified seal, meaning their wood was initially harvested from responsibly managed forests.

Everspring™ 100% Recycled Paper Towels ($16.99/8 rolls)

collection of white paper towel rolls with green label
Everspring

4. 365 by Whole Foods Market Paper Towels

Why they're better: Made from recycled material

365 by Whole Foods Market offers paper towels made from 100% recycled material. They are whitened without chlorine bleach and don't contain any added fragrance or dyes, but still don't belong in the compost or recycling bin.

365 by Whole Foods Market Paper Towels ($4.99/ 3 rolls)

light brown paper towel rolls with citrus detail on packaging
365 by Whole Foods Market

5. Who Gives A Crap Forest Friendly Paper Towels

Why they're better: Made from bamboo and plant waste, plastic-free packaging

These "forest friendly" rolls are made from fast-growing bamboo and bagasse, a byproduct of sugarcane processing—not old-growth trees. Who Gives A Crap donates 50% of its profits to charity partners working in water, hygiene, and sanitation. It's also a certified B Corp for its corporate commitments to sustainability (like carbon-neutral shipping and plastic-free packaging).

Who Gives A Crap Forest Friendly Paper Towels ($16/ 6 rolls)

paper towel roll with colorful purple paper packaging
Who Gives A Crap

6. Cloud Paper Bamboo Paper Towels

Why they're better: Made from bamboo, plastic-free packaging

Cloud Paper offers a subscription service so you'll always have a stash of bamboo paper towels (nestled in recyclable, plastic-free packaging) waiting for you at home.

Cloud Paper Bamboo Paper Towels ($33.99/12 rolls)

paper towels wrapped in white paper
Cloud Paper
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Emma Loewe
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director

Emma Loewe is the Sustainability Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.

Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 articles on mbg, her work has appeared on Bloomberg News, Marie Claire, Bustle, and Forbes. She has covered everything from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping to a group of doctors prescribing binaural beats for anxiety. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.