21 June 2019

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

| Kathleen McCann
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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 throughout the world each day and how many trees are going into 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 Wiki, 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 plactic, 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.

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An alternative to paper is a “bum gun”. A bidet hose on the hot and cold water or plugin water heater attached at the cistern.
Needs practice but used with 4 to 6 towelettes (100×100) eliminates paper. Drop the towelettes into a bucket with 5% bleach them wash in the machine.
A portable bum gun can be made from a plastic bottle (3 lit milk) with a 8mm plastic pipe bent into a J curve. Just fill with warm water for comfort and squeeze with hand or foot if the hose is long enough.

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