This article is in part a post from the original owners of EnviroMom from 2009 but I felt it was an awesome addition to the new site and wanted to share it with a few updates!
Toilet Paper is one product that uses a lot of resources from the water to the trees it needs to make it, if we could find alternatives it would be a huge impact on the environment! But can something like Reusable Toilet Paper really be an option?
While reusable toilet paper – is not really paper, it is how many people refer to it. Reusable toilet paper is essentially cloth – and below we are going to share how we learned about this option and talk about the pros and cons of trying this alternative toilet paper method!
How We Learned About Reusable Toilet Paper
Renee and I and a few of our EnviroMom friends were interviewed by public radio’s Marketplace program about ‘going green’.
During the interview our friend Christy mentioned that a reader had stopped using toilet paper and the reporter was thrilled to have such a unique angle to focus on!
Sure enough, he led with that story and asked whether any of us had considered going ‘toilet paper free.’
We all offered a resounding ‘NO!’
But, after doing some research it doesn’t sound so crazy anymore.
Renee wrote up a fantastic little behind-the-scenes synopsis of what’s wrong with our sewage systems, and toilet paper is a large factor in the issues they have. She also enlightened us about the destruction of old growth forests for toilet paper.
A few of our readers have also commented that their families are using reusable wipes instead of toilet paper. Becky is one – and she recently sent us a summary of how her family has changed their bathroom habits.
Check out what Becky emailed us and see if it inspires you to make the change!
So I am sharing my latest “green” thing with you because my husband and I decided to take this toilet paper thing to the next level.
With the recent info I’ve learned about BPA in toilet paper (levels being even more in recycled toilet paper than that super new and soft Charmin) just all came together one day as I was folding diapers and wipes.
I asked myself “Why, if I am so set against disposable wipes, do I use cloth wipes for my babies, even when I’m away from home, and then turn around and teach my 2 year old to use TP while she is potty training? Why, when I’m already washing diapers and wipes, do I spend so much more on a paper product that has BPA in it to wipe my girly parts?”
We have decided to switch to cloth at home. In the picture I have sent send, the wipe on the bottom is a Terry Wipe from Baby Works. The one on top I have made out of 12×12 washcloths that I have had for sometime now.
I made three out of each cloth and have plenty (45) for us. We do have toilet paper on hand for guests, because as this is our choice and we are not going to MAKE others do it as well.
This email from Becky was quite an eye-opener. I have actually met Becky – she was the recipient of my stash of plastic bags not too long ago. She is not living off the grid somewhere – she does not live on a farm or not use other modern day inventions. She is a lovely mom of two who lives in a condo and is making small lifestyle changes just like you and me to help our environment.
I responded to her email with a bunch of questions asking for a bit more detail on their whole no toilet paper routine so we can get a full scope of what is actually needed to take this path.
What is your washing routine?
We wash them with the diapers so far.
Where do you put the recently used wipes, and how do you wash them?
We have a diaper pail in the kid’s bathroom and a small trash can near our toilet. Both have removable pails in them and we keep a “soaking” solution in both.
It’s just a splash of Bac-out mixed with water. For diaper/wipes washing – all the pail’s contents including cloth & liquid get dumped into the washer. Then I run a drain & spin cycle before I wash.
For soap I use non-chlorine bleach & powder soap, both are Biokleen. We find they are the best choice for us and get stains out best.
How do you store them for easy use?
In our bathroom, we keep a stack on the back of the toilet so they are easily within reach. Extras are stored in the cupboard above. So far I have made 45 and so we seem to have plenty of extras.
The kids’ cloths are kept in the right hand drawer of the sink cupboard. They have always been there. Our routine for diaper changes has always been to place them on the toilet and then grab a cloth, get it wet, cleanup and diaper the baby on the changing pad.
Do you see yourself using them after the baby is out of diapers and you are doing less wash?
We will absolutely continue this setup once the baby is out of diapers. It’s a really simple routine we have gotten into and my husband is very willing, as he always has been, to help with the wash.
It’s a system we are committed to, not only because of the time already put into it — sewing all those cloths and what not — but also because we are doing our best to lessen our waste in this world. For us it’s kind of like washing towels, it’s such a part of life that we are soon not going to know any different way.
And are you using them for both #1 and #2?
Yes – and yes. It’s really not a big deal. But if there were a mess, we have some heavy duty gloves that we use to wash out dirty diapers in the toilet. We would use them for the wash cloths too. Also, as a small side note, I used to be a CNA and have worked in geriatrics before. What anyone in this family expels, including the dog, cannot be as bad as some of my previous cleanups.
Cons To Using Washable Toilet Paper
While there are a lot of reasons to go ahead and try cloth toilet paper – there are also a few reasons that you may not want to try it.
- You really need a strong stomach – notice above, Becky was a geriatric nurse. Adult poop is just a lot more gross than baby poop.
- Increased laundering required
- Stains can make the cloths look gross pretty quick
- If not washed correctly germs can linger and make other users of the cloth sick
- You may have to try a few different cloth textures to find one that works for your family
Benefits Of Using Washable Toilet Paper
The pros and cons are balanced – but the savings you will be making on our environment by using these is huge!
- Savings on expensive toilet paper can be amazing!
- No trees are murdered to create toilet paper
- One cloth can last for years
- Reduction in sewage issues and pollution
- Wipes can be made from old sheets or clothing
If the whole poop thing is just too much – why not at least just try using them for wiping urine and then just using traditional toilet paper for the poop wipes?
You can also use different wipes for each person if that makes you more comfortable – so you are not sharing with other people in your home.
So there you have it – going the reusable toilet paper – or cloth toilet paper route is absolutely do-able!
I’m not there and I’m sure my husband is sweating bullets right about now just reading this. While it may not be right for every family – it is an option to consider for sure if you a serious EnviroMom!
Could you do it? Are you doing it? And, Becky, thanks for sharing!