Thursday, March 4, 2010

Could you live a life without...

…toilet paper? What do you think? Could you do your daily, uh, “business” without that faithful roll of TP?

Right now we’re in the throes of potty-training and I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t forced to watch Elmo’s Potty Time at some point during the day. I’m thankful at least for the instructional reinforcement Elmo provides, and it could always be worse – it could be Barney! In the video Elmo teaches children the finer points of using the potty, including the all-important steps of wiping yourself with toilet paper and flushing the toilet after you’re done. There’s even a little vignette showing how toilet paper is made in the factory, complete with a rap song to explain it all. Suffice it to say toilet paper gets discussed a lot in this video. So when we sit baby girl on the potty, I try to follow Elmo’s steps to the letter. I let her do her thing, wipe her with toilet paper after she’s done, and clean her up. But as you know, she’s cloth-diapered, and when I change her diaper I always use a cloth wipe. As I was changing her diaper this morning it occurred to me, why don’t I use cloth for myself when I use the potty?

Oh, don’t look at me like that! It’s a valid question. Part of the reason for this blog is to chronicle my efforts at living a greener and less-wasteful life, finding ways to be kinder to the planet in my everyday living and parenting. Well, this is an area for possible improvement, don’t you think? A whopping 98% of toilet paper in America comes from virgin wood, according to The Guardian – that’s a lot of trees! In fact, toilet paper is very much an American convention. Take a trip overseas and most people use bidets or another form of water-based cleansing. We Americans, however, spend $6 billion a year on TP, with the average American using 50 pounds of the stuff per year (thanks for the stats, Mental Floss!). And have you gone to the store lately to buy toilet paper? I cringed the last time I saw the prices! I have a hard time paying so much for something that I’m intentionally going to desecrate. It makes no sense.

So I issued myself a challenge. Since the baby gets her butt wiped with cloth, so will I. For her, we usually keep some wipes soaked in water and a small drop of baby wash in a container. I, too, will keep some pre-moistened wipes on hand in our own bathroom. I’ll use a small wet bag from Bummis – similar to the ones we keep dirty diapers in when we travel – to store all my dirty wipes (SHAMELESS PLUG: These wet bags are available at Goo Goo Gaia).

As for washing, they’ll go right in the wash with the baby’s diapers. I’m going to try this for a week and check back in to share my experiences. I’m not saying that this is going to be easy or that it isn’t at least a tiny bit cuckoo. But it’s worth a try, right? One less tree has to die and I get to keep my money in my pocket.

So, what do you think… could you go without TP?


N said...

I'm all for living a green life but this is a cultural luxury I can't let go. Fyi. ... they use their hand to wipe in India....that's it. So cooking becomes quite a task when you can only use 1 hand!

Denise said...

That's DEFINITELY a bit much. I admit I've probably gone off the deep end, but I'm trying to find a happy medium between using old newspapers and doing the "shake". I tried the cloth wipe earlier today and it wasn't too bad! Though it didn't hurt that I'd run out of toilet paper anyway. *shrug*

Anonymous said...

This is one of those things that my husband blinked his eyes really fast on. LOL. It is something that I thought about for a bit, and then I revisit every now and again. I have had success with the cloth pads, so I figure if I just used them for the front end (can't do the back on yet) it should be okay. Try that. And then let ME know, and I will check them out. LOL!

Anonymous said...

I think it is a great idea. I try to do my part with the environment. I will have to see what I can use and also try this for a week.

I know for parties, I got tired of seeing how many paper towels people used so I started stocking up on the cheaper face clothes and I ask my guest to use one and discard it in the basket next to the seat. That has went over well and I feel good about it.

Crunchy Diva said...

i use cloth myself for 'short' trips no issues works great.