For the last two Septembers I've been hosting a Cloth Wipe Challenge and I'm always impressed by the number of people ready to change the way they wipe. The idea is somewhat daunting at first, but giving up using toilet paper is really not that big a deal.
As for the last two challenges, the rules are quite simple... ya'll already know how to wipe. Now you just need to learn to do it with something more (or less?) traditional. For this challenge, you can choose to use cloth wipes just for #1 (as my family does) or you can go all out and clean up for #2 as well.
I'll be going over the details again this time around but if you want to get a jump start on what to expect, you can read all the posts from the last challenges here (from the 2007 challenge) and here (from the 2008 challenge).
I estimate that we've saved about $360 in toilet paper since we've started using cloth (we normally get the Seventh Generation 100% recycled toilet paper so it's a tad more expensive). We only use it for #1 so the hassle is a lot less, it's a lot more comfortable than TP and we're saving tons of paper products.
Need some convincing?
According to Charmin, consumers on average use 8.6 sheets per trip to the bathroom. That's a total of 57 sheets per day and an annual total of 20,805 sheets. There are 230 million adults in the U.S., each averaging a roll and a half per week. Since each roll of toilet paper averages about .5 a pound of paper, that's about 40 pounds of TP per year.
That equals 4.6 million tons of TP used each year. And that's just from adults. To take the calculation even further, if all U.S. adults used only Charmin toilet paper or the like (aka "virgin fiber" with 0% recycled content or post-consumer waste), the environmental cost is approximately (not including the issues with Dioxin):
Seems rather ridiculous, no? Just for wiping our butts? If you are appalled by these numbers, now's your chance to join in with a group of intrepid wipers and make the switch.
This year's challenge will only be a week long, so you have no excuse to not give it a try. To sign up, just add yourself to the comments. I know this is a tough one for you guys - there are a lot of mental and cultural barriers to making the switch, but I guarantee if you just give it a try for #1, you'll be hooked!
If any of last year's participants/converts want to add your encouragement, please do!
Finally, if you aren't interested in the challenge, but you are interested in finding out how people wipe (I know, I ask weird questions), check out this poll.