Arriving home from school, my ten-year-old daughter spots a giant cardboard box on the doorstep.
‘Is it for me?’ she asks excitedly, as she starts to rip it open.
Well, sort of,’ I reply, only to see her look of disappointment as she realises what is within — toilet paper, 48 rolls to be precise.
She makes a swift exit before I have a chance to explain that this isn’t just bog-standard bog roll.
After he and his wife scoffed at people stockpiling toilet roll during the first wave of lockdown, Tom Rawstorne was scrambling around trying to find rolls online when they ran out and couldn’t get their hands on any.
For starters, it’s from a company called Who Gives A Crap. The rolls are extra long, the paper 100 per cent recycled, yet promising three-ply luxury. Better still, it boasts a subscription service which means a delivery every eight weeks.
A small step for mankind, a giant leap for our family.
Because, as a father of three, I’ve learnt from bitter experience that there are two things in life you are destined to run out of when you can least afford to: printer ink and loo paper.
At no stage will anyone mention the fact that we’ve reached critical levels of either until the last drop has been drained or the final sheet flushed away.
Now, as in March, shops are reporting panic-buying of toilet rolls.
Photographs show stripped shelves and masked shoppers wheeling mountains of the stuff to their cars.
The last time, smart mirror my wife and I resisted the urge, scoffing at the stockpilers, until we discovered the joke was on us. While I studied YouTube videos on how to turn a toilet into a bidet, my wife scoured the internet until she found some industrial-sized wheels of loo paper.
They were long-lasting, but far too unwieldy to be a long-term solution.
The experience left me determined to do things differently. Surely, in the 21st century, there’s an easier way to stay supplied with something so mundane?
With a second wave upon us, here are options that could leave you, and smart bidet the wider world, sitting pretty.
Who Gives a Crap — Tom’s Verdict: Big rolls, small bucks, good cause
Big rolls, small bucks
Offering bamboo-based or recycled loo paper, Who Gives A Crap aims to help the environment and the lives of people in developing countries.
Its box of 48 recycled three-ply rolls costs £36, which works out at less than 19p per 100 sheets.
That compares with nine rolls of Andrex Gentle Clean being sold online by Tesco at 22p per 100 sheets.
The rolls are made with no inks, dyes or scents, and there is no plastic in the packaging.
The company also offers a 15 per cent discount with its subscription service, which means it will send you another box in eight weeks’ time.
It estimates that this is an ‘ideal’ gap for a five-strong family.
Bumboo — Tom’s Verdict: Super eco-friendly and super-soft
Verdict: Big rolls, small bucks, good cause.
Soft and tree-free
bumboo loo rolls, as the name suggests, are ‘tree-free’ and made from bamboo grown without the use of chemicals, pesticides or fertilisers.
Bamboo is eco-friendly as it can be harvested in three years and will grow for up to 70 years.
It also produces a paper that, its makers claim, is softer than recycled paper fibres.
It costs £40 for 48 extra-long rolls, which works out at 28p per 100 sheets, or less for a subscription.
Greencane — Tom’s Verdict: Thinner than other options, but the use of waste sugarcane makes this a good green choice
Verdict: Super eco-friendly and super-soft.
Greencane loo paper is made using a mix of bamboo and recycled sugarcane, a by-product of the sugar industry, with the aim of saving forests used to produce paper goods.
Indeed, the company boasts that every tonne of recycled sugarcane pulp used saves 17 trees.
Its box of 48 two-ply rolls cost £29.80, or 20p per 100 sheets. Again, subscription discounts are available.
Oceans — Tom’s Verdict: The toilet paper is not the greenest, but the packaging is plastic-free
Verdict: Thinner than other options, but the use of waste sugarcane makes this a good green choice.
Save our seas
Oceans promises to help you ‘save sea creatures with toilet tissue’.
It donates a quarter of all profits to the Marine Conservation Society to help protect our seas, shores and wildlife. The paper is three-ply and made from sustainable UK wood.
A box of 45 rolls costs £21.99, or 30p per 100 sheets.
Subscription deals are on offer.
The Cheeky Panda — Tom’s Verdict: All the eco-benefits of bamboo, but quite expensive
Verdict: The toilet paper is not the greenest, but the packaging is plastic-free.
This bamboo-based product promises to be hypoallergenic.
The bamboo is grown in China, but you won’t be depriving pandas of their favourite food as this variety grows far away from the animals’ natural habitat.
A box of 48 rolls costs £35.99, or 37p per 100 sheets.
Renova — Tom’s Verdict: Pricey, and less green than the others
Verdict: All the eco-benefits of bamboo, but quite expensive.
Chic in black
… and finally, smart bidet if you want to follow in the footsteps of Simon Cowell, then Portuguese luxury toilet paper manufacturer Renova is for you.
Its black loo roll, which is reportedly insisted upon by the music mogul, costs £7.22 for six rolls — a whopping 86p per 100 sheets, plus £11.80 delivery.
But each roll is three-ply, lightly scented, made from virgin pulp (no recycled content), and is ‘colourfast for its intended use’.
Verdict: Pricey, and less green than the others.