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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Could You Go Paperless In The Toilet?

I came upon the subject by chance on the internet somewhere where a woman was making "Family Cloths" and I thought wow, that's dedicated to green and thought it was a bit too extreme and I dismissed the thought pretty quickly....
Until I read this post
on the Penniless Parenting Blog. It was very matter of fact and candid and held compelling arguments. The comments were probably what got me thinking the most; there were dozens of people doing this same thing. It is the "great unmentionable".
There were many questions in the comments that necessitated a follow up post so she wrote, 

The last time I went to the shop, I managed to find some unbleached, environmentally approved toilet paper on sale and I bought a few packages to stock up. It really has been the most unsatisfactory experience. Every time I use it the brown colour is a constant nag on my already guilt riddled brain about chopping down trees and using fossil fuels to manufacture and transport something miles and miles in order to wipe my nether. Add to that the dollars that are literally flushed down the toilet and worse still, the fact that as soon as it is slightly moist this toilet paper goes to absolute soggy tissue and for the heavier duty wipe there is a real danger of finger break through so I find myself using even more sheets than I normally would, laying on more guilt. It has really had me thinking again about the idea of going paperless.

Growing up I remember Mum telling us about how lucky they were growing up with their parents owning a shop. Do you remember how apples used to be transported in cupped cardboard trays and each one individually wrapped in soft pink or blue squares of tissue paper? That's what Mum got to use for toilet paper, not strips of newspaper like other people. Can you imagine using newspaper now? We would all have very black behinds!

So at the dinner table with friends the other night I didn't really raise the subject but just threw out there a "you know there a few people out there who use re-usable cloths instead of toilet paper" thinking I would get a groan of horror from the three men at least but instead was surprised to get an immediate gasp of agreement about how wasteful and expensive toilet paper is.
I left it there pondering and thinking well perhaps my man of the house won't think me so hair-brained after all. There are some households that use cloth only for #1 and there are households where the man of the house does not participate and that's OK. It's a personal choice. They still have toilet paper there for visitors but just have a system for themselves also. I won't get into the ins and outs because I think the dynamics have been dealt with quite well by the Penniless Parenting posts linked above. 
Other good reads include;
by Sortacrunchy
which lead to 
and by Bonzai Aphrodite

I'm thinking of trying this idea. I have a stainless steel flip top bin that has a removable plastic inner pail that I thought would be ideal for the nappy soak method which is the one that makes the most sense to me and would make the idea sustainable. My washing machine has minute water level settings so I have no guilt over small washes and I'm pretty sure my environmental impact with this method is way less than the paper route.

So is it something you would consider or do you dismiss it out of hand?
Do you feel guilty every time you go to the toilet or is it just my Catholic heritage that skews my guilt levels on just about everything?(LOL)


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  2. Well, its probably only developed cpuntries that use bog roll I think, I guess (???)

    But after doing the whole cloth nappy thing with my kids, I'm more then happy to see a toilet roll.

    I guess it all goes onto, where the unmentionables go next, like sewage ash to be used as fertilizer.

    But then I think, if its not a tree, its a mono-culture cotton crop (organic or otherwise), and then detergents, water, and more sewage from washing.

    I get the idea, but hmmm, couldn't face washing the grown ups "nappies" :)
    #1's sound easy enough cloth option, but #2's . . .ho hum . .. .and which little bunny gets that extra load of washing everyday . . . I think my sacrific will be my no cling wrap methods in the kitchen, and no plastic bags for fruit and veg at the shops.

    But then at the end of the debate I'm fine with loo roll, its biodegradable and renewable.

    Didn't the French get it all sorted with Bidet's ?

    Oh an endless rain of thoughts !

  3. When we look at the paper industry, here in the US, paper companies plant fast growing trees as a renewable resource and cut those. It has actually been proven that it takes more fossil fuels to recycle paper than it does for the paper industry to cut trees they plant and make paper. We are a family of 6. I can't imagine how much more water we would use washing those reusable cloths! Not to mention the yuck factor! I'd rather do things like put a 5 gallon bucket in the shower to catch excess water and water from kitchen use to put around my plants. There's also the old standby "if it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down." If we would limit our travel and buy local and grow our own food, we'd make a bigger dent in the fossil fuel use than any other way.

  4. I could maybe could do this .. but I'm not sure about hubby as I have not approached him with the idea. My son (15 with Down syndrome) has 'issues' with this topic after having part of his colon removed as a child .. so has some incontinent issues requiring paper pull ups .. which I've tried to replace with fabric. I'm looking into training him to use one of those little foaming soap pumps filled with a watered down gentle cleaning solution (soap/water) to help with clean up .. leading to more independence and better hygiene.

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  6. Tanya the memories that your post brought dad was a fruiterer in the 50s and early 60s and we used the tissue paper from the apples...a big bag of the 'balls' of tissue paper which were smoothed out before 'use' hanging on a nail in the loo!! Mum would put a regular roll of toilet paper out if visitors were expected!

  7. If it were just me, I'd do it in a heartbeat. If it were just me and my man, I might work toward the cause. However, this just wouldn't fly in the same house as my teenage daughter. Hmmm. Maybe when she hits eighteen and lingers on at home a little long, I could try this to encourage her jump from the nest.

  8. hey the discussion is looking great, I especailly like the Zoo Keepers info.
    I'm thinking Lemon Tree for my men folk .....
    Love it when you post a topical subject Tanya :)

  9. We always used the tissue paper bread wrapping first. Neigbours had squares of newspaper nailed up.

  10. I've thought about it for number ones - after all I did the cloth nappies and they were fine. But I have a worm loo so all the 'solids' get turned into vermicast. In this system they actually encourage you to have an insinkerator (the munchy thing for vegetable waste in your plug hole) and the carbon from the loo paper is good for them too. Seeing as I compost/chicken food all our vege scraps, maybe my worms would miss out on some necessary carbon if I stopped feeding them loo paper? I'd have to ask the worm loo man (and I can imagine the look on his face, hee hee!)

    I do use cloth hankies instead of tissues - but can't convince the hubby that it's not gross. And I use rags not paper towels. We also use the unprinted side of letters/bills etc for note paper and colouring-in and get bank statements sent via email, so I guess there are other ways of reducing paper use that might be a gentler introduction for those who are a little squeamish.

  11. Ok so I have read the other posts and do admit I could have a go but I still have the ewwww factor in my head. My husband was reading over my shoulder when I started reading this blog and chuckled - so I asked him and he said a resounding NO! And really the things that are putting me off are 1. changing to washing in hot water - we do not ever use the hot button and haven't even attached the hose - would increase my energy usage etc. 2. Once a month I couldn't imagine using a cloth just for the yuck factor - but will get over this in under 5yrs I HOPE. 2. I finished with cloth nappies over 10 years ago and I am very happy, thank you. 3. Boys just don't seem to play nice in the toilet and I think it could create even more angst in our household. I will certainly keep it in mind when the kids have moved out and I have done the menopause thing.

  12. Oh Mum, I'm picking up what you're putting down but I just couldn't do it.
    I recycle my plastics, papers and cans, I hang my clothes on the line instead of using a dryer, I wash in cold water, I bus to work, I refuse plastic bags, I compost. I can't bring myself to consider this. Please, please PLEASE have toilet paper for when i come to visit.

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  14. I have to vote with the others. I love my toilet paper. Yes, I used cloth diapers or nappies as you call them on our three children when they were little but I just can't imagine going back to cloth again. I consider toilet paper a reward for all those years of two in diapers at the same time. LOL

  15. stationview cottageJuly 8, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    I have to say I couldn't either. I have done the cloth nappy thing as well but just could not face doing this for the family. One great little thing I had when I did cloth nappies was a hose connected to the toilet called A 'little squirt'. This may come in handy for anyone thinking of giving this a go!

  16. The idea in principle sounds ok, but how much detergent and sanitiser would be needed to ensure germs weren't spread, along with extra water for washing. This would defeat the purpose. If one was to go as far as cloths for toilet paper, would the next step be to do away with pads and tampons and go back to the good old days of using 'rags'. It is bad enough soaking nappies for little tites, but the thought of pooey cloths hanging around the house is quite disgusting.

  17. Thank you everyone for your considered discussions and for entering into the debate with such good spirit.
    Elizabeth I would respectfully suggest that you check some paper manufacturing links just for your own information. I can assure you that "the extra water for washing cloths" is far less than the thousands of litres required just to manufacture paper and as for chemicals! Please, they use a bleaching process and that is just in the final stage. It did give me a chuckle. I will tell you that there a lot of people who already have gone back to cloth for menstruation too. As for the "pooey cloths hanging around the house" comment, this clearly shows that you haven't followed the links, done the reading and fully informed yourself before making the value judgement.
    Finally I will tell you all that I have been accused of not allowing comments that do not agree with my own. I think the myriad of comments above do not give credibility to the statement. There is no excuse for poor blogging etiquette and as the administrator (read supreme being of power and might over "Suburban Jubilee")I will not be allowing comments from anonymous individuals or those with blocked profiles. This may sound extreme but many bloggers have gone this route already. I do also reserve the right to edit mean spiritedness in the interest that it may infect my own joire de vive.
    As ever, well intentioned and spirited debate is always welcome and in fact shed light on the grey areas. Life simply is not black and white but many shades of grey....thank goodness.

  18. Know what? I'm gonna send this post to my husband for his feedback! I'd be surprised if he's up for the idea, but since he's usually the one who has to run the "oh no, we're out of toilet paper!" errands...


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