Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cloth Wipe Challenge 2009

Cloth Wipe Challenge 2009Holy smokes, people! I almost forgot to host the cloth wipe challenge for this year. But, lucky for you guys, I remembered just in the nick of time. Whew!

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):

  • 78.2 million trees
  • 1.35 million tons of air pollution
  • 32 trillion gallons of water
  • 2.1 trillion gallons of oil
  • 18.75 trillion Kilowatt hours of energy

    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.
  • 50 comments:

    Amy in Tacoma said...

    OK, a few basic questions:

    Do you buy a huge stash of washcloths for the job? Where do you keep them? When one has been used, where do you put it until it gets washed? And how much laundry does this add to your load?

    I ask the last question because we have switched to cloth napkins, but we reuse them several times before we wash them (except for those we provide to guests), so the napkins don't add much to our laundry. But I imagine a cloth wipe is a one-use type of thing, right?

    hannah's mom said...

    I'm in. at least for #1, and if I can figure out a storage option, I am gong to give it a go with #2 also. I saw the challenge last year and was cloth diapering our daughter (just at night) but didn't have the guts to try and convince my husband. this time, I'll use cloth for me and our daughter...and open up a conversation with my husband.

    I have been wanting to make this switch for quite some time. thanks for the challenge!

    Gloria said...

    I've been using cloth wipes exclusively since I read about it in your blog. Now it seems strange to use paper as when I'm in a public bathroom, for example. The best cloths are cut up old washcloths or old terry kitchen towels - only big enough to get the job done - which I keep in a basket under the sink. After use, I put them in a large, plastic container (originally for yogurt) with an X slit into the lid. It accepts the used cloths easily and keeps odors in. I put them in with my regular wash maybe every other day and the impact is negligible.

    Thanks for the inspiration, Deanna.

    die Frau said...

    Gloria, thank you for the storage idea! Deanna, I've been looking for an excuse to try this. Not sure if I'll be brave enough to try #2, but I'm definitely in for #1. I think I'll be alone on this--doubt the husband will be up for this, but if I can do it successfully, perhaps I can convince him as well.

    Mrs. Money said...

    I'm totally in!

    Anonymous said...

    We cut up some micro-fiber towels (3x3) that were left over from making diapers. The ends don't unravel and they dry quickly on the line. My daughters have slowly shown interest and preference for cloth wipes. I have a basket of "softies", a spray bottle (water and essential oil) on one side of the toilet and a small covered garbage can on the other side. The can has a foot press and a lift out container. When I wash diapers - I wash "softies."

    Lynne said...

    We got a Biffy within the past year and we LOVE it!! We biffy first, then wipe with cloth wipes. For #1 and #2. No fuss, no muss. (Used wipes go in a mesh lingerie bag on the TP holder, and in the wash a couple times a week.) Now when we have to use a public toilet, it feels weird and unsanitary to use dry TP.

    How quickly your view can change once you try it.

    novemberjuliet said...

    What's a biffy? I call forest outhouses biffies (Bathroom In Forest For You).

    seppie said...

    I'm thinking I might try it this time around. There are six of us, but four are boys and I don't want to have to mess with explaining to my stepdaughter's mom why she isn't using toilet paper at our house, so it's really just me. I'm just going to do it for #1.

    Anonymous said...

    I found some old 100% cotton sheets at my local thrift store for one dollar each. Pinking sheared them into 8 x 8's. Use for #1 and put into small plastic container. Wash every few days with regular laundry.
    Been at it awhile and enjoying huge savings on TP.

    agreenfire said...

    I already made the switch, so doing it for another week is easy peasy. I cut up two old tee shirts, and one old flannel shirt for my wipes. I keep them in a basket, and have a simple drawstring bag hanging in the bathroom for the used one. I only use cloth for number one, saving the TP for number two. This change was easy to get used to once I started and I have saved a TON of money on TP.

    DK said...

    We actually ran out of TP earlier this week and couldn't get to the store for more. We did have a box of Kleenex on hand, but those don't really work for down there. I have a huge stack of washcloths since I always pick them up on sale in big packs to use for whatever task around the house needs a small soft cloth. I did this for 2 days before we made it to the store for more TP.

    I think my fiancee was a little weirded out by it. He asked me the other morning where we keep the TP (we recently moved) and when I told him we didn't currently have any and to just use a washcloth, I'm doing laundry later today anyway he knitted his eyebrows and blinked a few times. He ended up taking a shower instead.

    Stacy said...

    I just found your blog. Love the challenges! I mght be able to participate (only me tho, dh and ds14 would NOT be willing)...just depends on when you start. We are moving on Sept 1 and won't be in to our new place until Sept 4.

    Farmer's Daughter said...

    I think... I'm out.

    Anything that increases the amount of laundry I have to do...

    I'm going to enjoy our 2 loads a week, relish it, until the baby gets here in March.

    Toria said...

    I'm interested to find out the actual systems people use. Do you keep some pre-soaked & some dry & use both; do you just use dry ones; or do you just use wet ones & air dry?

    I have a stack of cloth wipes from the recently outgrown nappy stage, so that part isn't an issue for me, but I do need ideas on how to implement the practical side.

    Lindsey Hull said...

    Just a question:

    How does using cloth wipes impact the numbers you presented in your post, in regards to water and energy usage? It seems to me as if it might cause one to use more water an energy, on the laundering level, but I'm not honestly sure what goes into making tp.

    We will not be switching, only because I can barely keep up with the laundry I have now. Oh, and we do use cloth diapers, and are crunchy in other ways, so I don't feel too bad.

    Veronica said...

    I will be glad to try this out. I also want to give some encouragement for #2. I had a surgery that didn't go so well but have yet to get it corrected. Anyway it resulted in me having to use a wash bottle after #2. Now I got mine from my hospital stays so I don't know where you would get them if you weren't in the hospital but my new way is so much better than wiping anyway. Before I go I fill up my bottle with warm water. Then when done I just squirt the area with the water and wipe dry. So I'll try your #1 cloth wipes and maybe some will even try my #2 way of wiping.

    Radioactive Duck said...

    I made the switch earlier this summer when I ran out of TP. I bought about five dollars worth of remnant fleece and used sheers to cut them into squares. I have a mesh bag that the used ones go into. I wasn't sure at first about using them for #2, but I took the plunge and have been very happy. Since I live alone my stash last the entire week until I do laundry, usually with plenty left over.

    Miriam said...

    I am in! I had always intended to move straight from diapers to the potty with cloth wipes with my girls, but somehow got stuck using TP. Sonce we've been having plumbing problems with the girls attempting to flush excessive amounts of TP, the time is rip for the change! Now to scrounge up containers for the bathrooms

    kaat said...

    Toilet Cloth is perfectly compatible with a (much) less wasteful approach to flushing - which definitely offsets the water that goes toward laundering the wipes.
    I just wrote about flushing and TC on my blog (http://blog.bolandbol.com/2009/08/26/flushing-drinking-water-not/). It is like a "coming-out" issue, especially since my MIL is reading it!

    frugalurban said...

    I started using wipes for #1 a few months ago, (and blogged about it) but hopefully I can still join the challenge for this year!

    For my challenge, I will commit to increase my stash of wipes and reduce the number of times I "forget" to use cloth. Though being 8 months pregnant means more & more trips to the bathroom it seems, so by the time the challenge is done, I should have enough wipes to service an army!

    Andrea said...

    I started using cloth a few months ago after reading about the challenge here. I'm washing diapers anyway so there is really no extra laundry. I use cut up t-shirts dry, I had been using only for #1 but occasionally (when I'm feeling brave) I use for #2 also. My BF is not in, but we are saving $ on TP.

    Lynne said...

    Someone asked what a Biffy is. Sorry I didn't explain -- it's a little spigot that you attach to your toilet that turns your toilet into a bidet. See their website: www.biffy.com for more info.

    And, no, I'm not getting any perks from the biffy company! My husband and I truly love it.

    Kay's Spot said...

    OK, I'm in. I have been contemplating this idea for quite a few years, but meet much resistance from my hubby. I might have to repurpose an old flannel sheet that no longer fits our bed; soft flannel sounds much better than a rougher washcloth. Now, just to figure out a storage method for the used wipes ... I can totally see the kids flushing them and clogging the plumbing and septic system.

    Jenette said...

    I will give it a go this year ... I might even try #2, my daughter (age 5) likes them better than regular tp.

    Tadj said...

    I'm signing up! This will be my first eco-challenge. I am worried about having to hide it from my roommate, but I do manage to hide my cloth pads and diva cup, so I guess this isn't that much different.

    Anonymous said...

    Alright, I'm in! Cutting up some cotton flannel now. I'm making them two ply and I have one pattern that is yellow with playful monkeys. The other has busier pattern lots of greens and blues, hides stains. :D Thanks for the challenge! This never crossed my mind. Not sure why I've been using the diva cup for a couple years and cloth pads before that. DUH!

    Leigh

    Anonymous said...

    I am already in, for about 6 months at least now all because of you Crunchy! I LOVE IT!!!! So much nicer than paper....well for #1 anyway, thanks, and I will keep it up. I think cut up old t-shirts and baby blankets are the best. I use baby wipe boxes, one for clean, one for dirty next to the toilet, then move dirties to small net laundry bags for washing, just rotate around. This keeps it all contained and neat.
    Thanks Crunchy!
    Jo, way down south

    anie said...

    We're in! Three girls in the house and I was just reading on Simple frugal about another mama going to try this.
    Going now to the "how to's" for some ideas~Thank you for the challenge on this one!

    elise.anne. said...

    i just found your blog today, and hubby and i are on the brink of making green changes in our life. we started with finding a location to recycle other plastics, not flushing pee, deciding to use cloth diapers whenever we have kids, eating less red meat, and definitely sleeping naked (before we knew that was green!) ;-)

    i called him immediately after reading this, and we are seriously considering the challenge. I think I'm in for #1 probably, we'll see about #2...intimidating! I am also looking into the DivaCup and am 75% convinced.

    thank you! i will be back here for all these great tips and might go buy that book.

    Michelle said...

    I'm in again! I've been using cloth for #1 since the first challenge in 2007, I'm pretty sure. If not, then at least for a year now. First I used a cut up t-shirt but now most of my wipes are double layer flannel cuties that my pad lady on Etsy (effiethepixie) made me, 4 dozen.

    The new challenge for me is doing it for #2 at least partly. I've been doing this for about a month. I typically wipe with TP then use cloth that is lightly sprayed with water. Right now I'm using t-shirt squares for #2.

    I store them all in a basket on a little shelf right across from the toilet--yes, even when company comes! I don't care what they think, lol. For used wipes I found a pretty ceramic canister, which I line with a small mesh laundry type of bag. I toss the bag in the laundry each day and put a fresh bag in the canister. It has a lid, which I do use when we have company so they don't have to see the used wipes. This system works really well for me. Since I rarely use a dryer to dry laundry and my wipes were taking so much room on my typical drying racks, I even found a rack on Amazon that is perfect for drying my wipes and cloth pads and pantyliners. It attaches to the wall and pulls out about a foot with 8 drying rods that are 31" long. I love it!

    I encourage everyone to at least try wipes for #1. It's so easy and really does save money--and resources, of course.

    dezprincesscc said...

    OK, count me in! I have a ton of receiving blankets for DD, I can give up a few. I'll even do 1 and 2. I thought it sounded weird to use it for 2, but the sink is right there so that shouldn't be a big deal. Not sure if I'll get a separate container or use the diaper pail. Just would rather not have to bring them outside the bathroom! But I'll wash them with the diapers. I don't know about DH, but he's been a good sport about a lot of things I've done differently, so I'll start and see i he follows along!

    zip said...

    I'm in for #1 (at least),

    motheralice said...

    I'm in for #1. Since I'm the only girl in the house, this should be an easy one for us to change. Not as brave about #2 (and d/h would take some pretty major convincing as well..) This is a good start, thanks for the challenge!!!

    Tanya Seaman said...

    I tried #1 and #2 last year and stuck with #1. Will try #2 with a squirty water bottle this time. There's no one else giving specifics online, so this is a great challenge with helpful info!

    Billie said...

    I am in but I am going to do the challenge one week later.

    I think I will stick to #1 for the challenge. Baby steps... little baby steps.

    okmosa said...

    When our kids were babies, I used these for diaper wipes in just a water/essential oil solution. As toddlers/preschoolers I used them them as 'nose wipes' because they were just smoooother than kleenex. Now, I'm about the only one that uses them anymore because they really are just smooooother than kleenex. However, they still get stored in my youngest's bottom drawer because she knows that's where they belong. Here goes: I take old t-shirts, the soft ones, plain colors, and just use a 6" quilting ruler and rotary cutter and cut out squares. My husband goes through a few colored t-shirts as undershirts every year. If I would sign up for the challenge, I would use these. I haevn't decided yet, though. However, the Diva challenge got me to finally get mine to work for me (it was my third try). I had almost given up. Thanks for all your challenges!

    Anonymous said...

    I've been using old washcloths for years to clean up the monthly mess, and just sort of eased into using them all the time for #1. I dampen them on my way in to the bathroom, and have an empty kitty litter jug with a hole cut sitting in the bathtub right next to the toilet. The monthly mess is long gone, thank goodness! but I'm still using my old washcloths. I began using them for #2 when one of my meds led to frequent diarrhea (got rid of the medicine!) and I just felt cleaner using a wet cloth. I toss them in the regular wash. If they're particularly messy, I rinse them out before putting them in the tub bucket. It's just me, but I keep TP for my company. Now I need to teach the cat to use the toilet LOL.

    Megan@SortaCrunchy said...

    Just found this today, but yes, I am in!!

    Red State Green said...

    Just found this, going to try it :)

    Megan said...

    I just convinced my fiance today to let us try this so how appropriate for it to be on this week of all weeks!
    We are already cloth diapering our baby and I made him cloth wipes out of his old receiving blankets (guess they finally did come in as handy as everyone said they would!) We still have like 10 of those things left so I figure I'll cut up the rest to use for us. I'll probably make them double thickness this time around. We LOVE using his cloth wipes on him. We use so many less wipes per change and they are so soft and easy to clean without all the harsh chemicals. AND I don't feel like I'm throwing away money with each wipe.

    My only question is, how easy will the BM's wash out of the cloth. Since our baby is breastfeed his wash out perfect as pie. Well, I guess we'll find out!

    I'm so glad to know other people are doing this!

    Crunchy Chicken said...

    Megan - Well, like I always argue, you are wiping, not pooping into the cloth so it will be a whole lot cleaner than a diaper from a toddler who is eating solids.

    Leah said...

    Honestly I never even thought the possibility of using cloth wipes for myself. I mean, I use them on my daughter, why not me?! Duh. I had a bunch of wipes I wasn't using on my daughter so I pulled those out.

    I've started using cloth for #1, not brave enough for #2 yet. I just throw them in with my regular towel (which is a basket in the bathroom), I figure they'll all get washed in super hot water anyway so not much of change laundry wise!

    Mrs. Shields said...

    i am in for #1.

    Carla said...

    Probably a little late for this post...BUT, I do want to let you know that when you hosted this challenge last year, I didn't publicly join in, but did make the switch to cloth wipes (for #!), and have not gone back.
    But you need to warn folks that, once they make the switch... using regular toilet paper when you're not at home becomes a bit of a mental/emotional challenge... :)
    Thanks for the motivation, Crunch!

    Al_Pal said...

    Neat. I may just try this! (at least for #1)

    Anonymous said...

    I am thrilled at how cushy soft it is. And easy and non-smelly. And such a minor initial investment.
    I spent $1 on a flannel baby blanket from the thrift store, which I cut up with ordinary scissors. I aimed for hand size, or 2-3 toilet paper square size. I varied the size, just in case. I only cut up ½ of the blanket, so if I hated my choices, I had more.
    I started with using them for #1 at home only. I was surprised at how little #1 ended on the cloth, only a few drops. I threw it in the sink when I washed my hands, rinsing it with soapy water. Then put the wet cloth under the sink drying, until laundry day. No stinky nothing.
    I keep them in the same box as the extra TP, between the toilet and the sink. I cut up about 25 cloth squares which are plenty for just me til laundry day. I use more when Aunt Flo came to visit during that time of the month if you know what I mean. I noticed no difference in laundry loads. Just that the small pieces need more keeping up with, as far as making sure they aren’t left on the sides of the washer and/or dryer.
    The first time I used the cloth for #2 was not planned. I noticed the TP I’d used for a previous bathroom visit didn’t do the job as well and clean as I’d expected. Still I was surprised at how little matter appeared on the cloth. Using the cloth for #2, I used a bit more soap, water and elbow grease to clean out the ‘skid marks’ after each use. For the #2 cloths, once hand washed, I put the wet cloth directly in the laundry, so as to not risk getting re-used.
    I haven’t used them outside my home yet. And we still buy TP for the other bathroom users.

    Naomi said...

    Oh dear lord I'm in, for at least #1, even though this is late lol.

    I'm seven months pregnant, and go through a *lot* of TP due to the shrinking bladder (thanks bub! lol), and we already cloth nappy/wipe DS (9 months), so adding a small amount of wipes from me (and probably DD8 as well) isn't going to make much difference to the laundry load...

    Surviving and thriving on pennies said...

    Just found this challenge and im so IN! I have 4 daughters so we go through so much of it. I think at first we will do just for #1. The husband is already against it, poor man has to deal with all my other challenges so I guess this one was a bit much. lol. Im excited and scared. Ive wanted to do this for a long time so guess I will just jump in head first.

    Suburban Sweetheart said...

    I THINK I respect this, & this dedication to the environment... but... wow. Just wow. I could never, will never, would never want to. But I (think I) am glad to know that others out there are doing things like this. Bold.

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