Reducing the need for toilet paper, your next step in a zero-waste life

Kathleen McCann 24 June 2019 50
One tree produces about 200 rolls. Photo: Emilian Robert Vicol on Pixabay.

One tree produces about 200 rolls. Photo: Emilian Robert Vicol on Pixabay.

Have you ever thought about how much toilet paper is used around the world each day and how many trees are going in to making it?

Yes, there is recycled paper, but sales are still not high enough to keep our native forests from being chipped. One tree produces about 200 rolls, 45 kg of toilet paper and about 83 million rolls are produced per day. According to National Geographic, global toilet paper production consumes 27,000 trees daily.

That sort of stuff is always on my mind but I was stopped in my tracks about 18 months ago when I was really in need of using a loo while shopping at my local bulk foods store. They very kindly showed me to their little room. I was fascinated to see that next to the toilet paper was a pile of clean, handmade, recycled (from old towels) neatly edged towelettes. A sign read – ‘We encourage you to use a towelette to wipe after number 1’s and put in the wash pile. Use toilet paper for number 2’s and flush.’

It got me thinking about what I could do at home, and now I am sharing that with you.

I took the plunge a year ago, I gave the small towelette thing a go!

I recycled one of my good towels that had seen better days. I normally recycle them to dog towels, then after that to the compost heap.

Cloth loo paper for your number ones! Photo: Netsearch.

Cloth loo paper for your number ones! Photo: Netsearch.

It was easy to cut them up, a little harder to edge, mainly taking time on the sewing machine. But it was definitely worth it! I have managed to save a lot of money on buying recycled paper toilet rolls. One good quality roll now lasts me about a month instead of having to buy at least a pack of six per month.

What would happen if we encouraged people, mainly girls and women, to recycle clean, old towels and cotton sheeting, into an alternative to using toilet paper for number ones – wee?

Check YouTube for tips and to see how to make them for your family.

Washing them is easy, I pack them into one of my small net bags, knot off the top – that’s important because you can get towelling stuck to your other stuff if you don’t. It makes it easier to handle them. Then I throw the bag in with my regular wash. I did have to buy extra pegs to peg them all out. As our mothers before us knew before disposable nappies became the norm, sunshine is a great bacterial killer and also helps bleach out stains.

If you want to go a little further there are alternatives to disposable products for ‘that time of the month’ too. Just put into your search engine – ‘make your own period pads’, the list is endless.

So there you go, something to ponder and perhaps some action to take in reducing landfill, the need for plastic, and keeping waste gases out of our atmosphere. You will even save money along the way.

For extra inspiration and support, I am following two people living zero waste lives on Instagram. They both use alternatives to toilet paper. One of them grows his own! Check out Anne-Marie Bonneau @zerowastechef and Rob Greenfield @robjgreenfield.

Happy days!

Kathleen McCann is a permaculturalist, artist, good chick, number 1 worker at Luscious Landscapes.

Original Article published by Kathleen McCann on About Regional.

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50 Responses to Reducing the need for toilet paper, your next step in a zero-waste life
Helen Burgess Helen Burgess 7:13 pm 28 Jun 19

I will remember that 😷

Pat Moran Pat Moran 5:38 pm 28 Jun 19

It’s been April 1 already, right??!?

Flane Down Flane Down 7:40 am 28 Jun 19

Helen Burgess, Sharon McHarry, Caroline Kay Rowe Stephenson, please bring your own little pack of personal "wipes" when you visit from now on. No washing done on site so you will have to transport used "wipes" home with you when you leave. Love you all 🙂

Kelly Sweeney Kelly Sweeney 10:11 pm 27 Jun 19

Rachel Sharples next level? 🤔😳😆

    Rachel Sharples Rachel Sharples 7:28 am 28 Jun 19

    I've been checking out bidets lol there's little ones you can attach to your loo

Maliha Rahnuma Maliha Rahnuma 10:37 am 27 Jun 19

Use water... Install a hand held small shower for convenience 😜

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:56 am 27 Jun 19

    Seen those in Muslim countries. The toilet is covered in water, the floor too. Those hand held sprays wet a lot more than people's behinds. They make a huge mess.

    Maliha Rahnuma Maliha Rahnuma 12:55 pm 27 Jun 19

    Julie Macklin just my observation - here people use public property nicely, and more maintenance and less population. its easy to use it at home as well.

Susan Le Susan Le 9:25 pm 26 Jun 19

Tania zero waste toilet paper, get me a bidet now!

Blen_Carmichael Blen_Carmichael 9:02 am 26 Jun 19

Cool picture of the Death Star there, just before it took out Alderaan!

Annie Wyer Annie Wyer 8:02 am 26 Jun 19

A good use for Murdoch-owned newspapers!

Ben Richardson Ben Richardson 8:00 am 26 Jun 19

Bidet systems highly underrated in Australia. If you have travelled around SEA and not used this method you really need to give it a try #bumgun

Shaun Nelson Shaun Nelson 4:09 pm 25 Jun 19

So that's what they mean by reusable shopping bags. Here I was thinking it was for a second round of shopping

Wes Dempsey Wes Dempsey 2:07 pm 25 Jun 19

How about NOOOOOOOO!

Bryan Bryan 2:07 pm 25 Jun 19

A bidet seat…A discovery we made in Seoul. Finishes with a hot air dry, no paper and not a large amount of water.

    JC JC 7:14 pm 25 Jun 19

    I second that. After having lived in Asia I got used to bidet seats, so when I came back I brought one for my place. Though just a cheapie so no bum dryer and cold water. Certainly wakes you up on a cold winters day.

    Apart from saving toilet paper it is such much cleaner anyway. I mean to say you spill something on the floor what do you do. You clean it with water (and maybe some chemical), you certainly don’t just wipe and leave at that. So why our bums?

Steve Uhe Steve Uhe 1:48 pm 25 Jun 19

This is abrasive

Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 12:32 pm 25 Jun 19

"Cloth loo paper "

The person writing this obviously hasn't thought this out and has no medical issues. Some poor people have bowel problems that lead to diarrhoea. I dread to think what those bits of cloth might look like if one of those people had need to use them. Actually it would, I imagine, be many of the cloths; not just one cloth used; maybe not even two or three, but lots of them. Same if anyone (even people who don't have these horrible medical conditions) had diarrhoea.

What about people with haemorrhoids? All that blood on the cloths. What about blood from other sources?

Even if the cloth is only used for urine, there is still the danger of cross contamination, and even if only urine, the cloths should not be shared unless they are boiled well between use (using lots of energy); not just washed in the washing machine.

So, so, unhygienic. Cloth use should be one person use (if you want to use them, sew on people's initials, but then is it still safe to wash them all together?), not then used by another person, even after (inadequate) washing. Not even in the one family. After all, it's suggested that families should not even share toothbrushes. This is worse.

    Richard Ware Richard Ware 8:40 pm 25 Jun 19

    Did you miss the bit in the story where it said "Use a towelette to wipe after number 1’s and put in the wash pile. Use toilet paper for number 2’s and flush"?

    Damaris Wilson Damaris Wilson 3:47 pm 26 Jun 19

    Julie Macklin I don't like the idea for use in public toilets, but surely ok for private home use.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 5:52 pm 26 Jun 19

    Damaris Wilson If each member of the family is willing to have their individual one. If we shouldn't share toothbrushes (even in family), I don't believe these should be shared either.

Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:56 am 25 Jun 19

I use recycled paper.

M.J. Leonard M.J. Leonard 11:31 am 25 Jun 19

What a load of....

Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:19 am 25 Jun 19

“You know practising Muslims usually don’t use toilet paper? They use water instead. As do nearly 1 billion people in India.”

That’s handy to know.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:16 am 25 Jun 19

Robyn Lewis, when you say “save the world” what do you mean, exactly?

The billions of people on this planet (soon to be billions more) need electricity to survive and renewables cannot deliver what is required and they never will be able to.

The solution is to stop breeding immediately and build nuclear power stations. In the meantime, evil coal fired electricity will actually save the world.

Nuclear power will be required to run the desalination plants anyhow because there won’t be enough potable water to go around in 10 years.

Think about it.

Ben Roberts Ben Roberts 11:14 am 25 Jun 19

ITT: People who don't know how to use the three sea-shells.

Veronika Sain Veronika Sain 10:49 am 25 Jun 19

The idea of using cloths is both unhygienic and in itself uses water, detergents and bleaches in order to clean the cloths. Recycled paper products from sustainable plant sources are fine.

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