Saturday, February 16, 2013

What?? No Toilet Paper??

Team Over vs Team Under
Sustainability. I hear this word thrown around a ton, but I am not convinced that people really can define just what sustainability is, let alone living a lifestyle that supports long-term sustainability. There are so many aspects of everyday life that have to be considered before sustainability can be a reality. I came across a post some time ago on another blog I follow that talked about Family Cloth. The blog was written by a lovely young lady who is into holistic health and sustainable living. I find it to be a real eye opener. What she blogged about on this particular day has resonated with me and made me consider an aspect of sustainability that I hadn't even considered before.

When my son was a baby I used cloth diapers on him for a couple of reasons: Reason one is because I feel it is horrible to continue to fill the landfills with used diapers, and reason two, because I felt it was healthier for him. It took trial and error to get right because it was the 1980's and most had moved on to using disposables. My mother was a great resource and I hired a diaper service to pick up the dirty ones and then deliver me fresh, clean,  sparkling white diapers each Thursday. Eventually he was potty trained and we moved on up to toilet paper. Toilet paper is the real topic here today, but you will see it actually is in some ways related to cloth diapers as well.

I have tracked out toilet paper consumption here for a week and ran some numbers. Now, keep in mind there are two adults in this house and we both work. However, the average person uses the rest room five times per day. Multiply that times seven for the days in the week and you have 35 restroom trips. Now multiply that even further times the number of weeks in a year (52 in case you can't remember) and that brings us to 1850 trips to the potty a year (give or take a few. Remember that stomach bug you had?). Wow, that is a ton of toilet paper per PERSON. Multiply that times the people in your house and, well you get the picture.

Before we go further, I know that toilet paper is compostable and I will be using a sawdust toilet, so composting toilet paper is not an issue, however, someone has to pay for it, haul it roll by roll to Rancho No Dinero, store it, etc. Think about the sheer quantity of toilet paper we are discussing here even knowing you buy it package by package. If you use three rolls per week like we do right now (and remember, we are not home during the day) that means you will have to buy, haul, and store 168 rolls of TP. At .60 a roll or more when not on sale/using a coupon, that adds up to over $100 a year just to buy the TP for two people who aren't home all day. Imagine the costs for a larger family who is home more often.

Family cloth solves some of the issues I mentioned above. For example, for a one time investment of around $50, you will have enough cloth for an entire family and be able to use them for years before needing to replace them. You don't have to remember to buy them at the store when you are half-way home. You won't run out with no other options. You won't have to find a place to store bulky rolls and packages.

Family cloths, like the ones I have (see picture) are 6" X 8" double thickness flannel wipes that are washed and reused. You keep them in the restroom. When you do your business you wipe as usual then put the cloth in a container with a lid to be washed. I chose to use a covered pail which I will have water and vinegar in as a pretreatment. It is a small waste can and takes up very little space. I will wash them in their own hot soapy water and, like our other clothes, rinse them twice and then hang them up on the line to dry, just as I would a cloth diaper.

I am sure there are some of you that will have the reaction I had originally which was, "I don't want to open the lid on a can to smell and see other people's poo. You would be surprised to learn that with vinegar and water, instructing people to turn the cloth dirty-side down when putting it in the pale, and regularly changing the water/washing the cloths, it is really not unpleasant.

I figure it will save me money, save the environment a little more, and I will never run out of TP during a snow storm. Contemplate the pro's and con's for yourself and then tell me what you think in the comments section.

Click here to learn how to make your own family cloths and here to learn how to wash them in an environmental safe fashion.


  1. Great idea !

    I think I would freeze mine fist, but one would still need to soak.