May 27, 2011
Ahem. Deep shaky breath.
For some of you, this is going to be way too much information. You’ve been warned.
For those of you who were brought up in the south, yes my mother did teach me not to talk about things like this. I’m sorry, mom.
About a year ago, Charlie and I gave up using toilet paper. About a week ago, we got the kids going with the program. If this is completely disgusting for you, stop reading now. If you’re interested, read on.
First off, I want you to know that I’m not trying to convince you to give up toilet paper. What I am trying to do is to give you the information you need if you’ve ever considered doing this. I’m hoping to demystify the idea and to let you know that it’s not as icky as you might think- at least I don’t think it is.
My husband was very reluctant at first. I bought our first set of wipes. He smiled and said that he would give it a try. No commitment. After about a week, we both saw that it was no big deal. After a year, we’re both wondering why we waited so long. We both prefer the wipes to toilet paper.
We’ve been slowly going off paper products for the last several years. First came paper napkins, then paper towels. Toilet paper was just the next step for us. We’ve done this for two reasons. First, we wanted to decrease the number of trees being cut down. Second, we wanted to decrease the amount of waste going into the landfill. As we learned at our tour of the waste water treatment plant, solid waste does wind up in the landfill. That includes toilet paper.
I’m going to share how our family deals with bathroom wipes. I’m guessing that other families do it differently. But, our method is super easy and sustainable for me in terms of the work involved. The supplies are simple. You need wipes and a trash can. I posted on freecycle to try to get wipes, but I didn’t get any responses. Baby wash cloths would work. I wanted some that were a little nicer, so I ordered organic bamboo flannel wipes from Eco Ellie on Etsy.
You will need to put a container of wipes in each bathroom. I have mine in baskets. Here are pictures of ours:
Forgive me. I’m going to use the terms “big job” and “little job” here. I don’t think I need to explain.
For a little job, you just use the wipe and throw it in the trash can.
For a big job, you use the wipe (damp or dry, depending on your preference). After you’re done, rinse the poop off the wipe in the sink and squeeze the water out. Usually, this is no big deal. Place the rinsed wipe over the edge of the trash can to dry and wash your hands. Once it’s dry, tip it into can. I let the wipes dry on the edge of the trash can so that they don’t mildew. When I do laundry, I throw the used wipes into my normal laundry. Because the poop has been rinsed off, I don’t feel the need to take any other measures. You could save the wipes and do a hot water load of wipes all at once if that increases your comfort level. We’ve been washing the wipes with our other laundry for a year, and it’s worked well.
I’ll just add that we can do this now because our kids are 6 and 8. I had a couple of sessions of teaching them how to do this, and we were done. It would be very challenging to do this hygienically with younger children.
Oh, and if you come to my house, I promise to have recycled toilet paper for you :-).