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.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Another reason to choose cloth wipes

I was reading some statistics on the New Scientist the other day about toilet paper usage, one of my favorite topics. According to the article, 60 million rolls of toilet paper are flushed away in Europe every day.

You think that's bad? The average American blows through 57 sheets a day. That's six times the global average. So, if you think you are a light user, someone out there is making up for it. In fact, someone out there is hand over fisting toilet paper over their hands and, er, fists.

The bigger (messier?) problem is the fact that, in the U.S., 14.5 million tons of office paper and newspaper will be dumped this decade, despite being ideal for recycling as toilet paper. The benefits of recycled toilet paper are that it consumes 64% less energy and 50% less water and creates 74% less air pollution compared with paper made from virgin wood pulp.

Why are we not using recycled? Demand. Apparently, the biggest obstacle to using recycled paper is our preference for the luxury, multi-ply TP that doesn't leave dingleberries that are apparently plaguing hairy assholes nationwide:



Unfortunately, this problem isn't just contained to western nations (or bears). The use of toilet paper is increasing in China and Africa. What does this mean? More huge amounts of waste being created just to wipe our collective hindquarters. So, use less toilet paper and choose 100% post-consumer recycled toilet paper.

Finally, if you are up for it, choose cloth wipes. The end result is resource conservation and cleaner air. And no dingleberries.

26 comments:

Segwyne said...

Another benefit to cloth over paper is that cloth doesn't leave those little bits in regions that lovers may visit. How mortifying it is to have your lover pick TP out of his mouth. Boy, am I glad that doesn't happen to me anymore.

Beany said...

I thought a dingleberry was some sort of edible fruit, not something that made me go, "ew!"

Why doesn't the U.S. go for bidet technology? That would keep everyone's behind clean and fresh.

knutty knitter said...

Cloth wipes mostly here - no detritus left in cavity :)

viv in nz

Oldnovice said...

You'd still want to dry your crotch with something, Beany.

I've finally found a "brand" (actually Kroger's generic) of TP that I'm pleased with. It only rips where you want it to, handles the job, and is soft enough without being so soft that it falls apart.

My marriage would be over if I pursued cloth wipes. I already heard, "Aren't you going a little overboard?" when we were on vacation and I asked the server to wrap my leftovers in tinfoil rather than accept a styrofoam box.

In addition, we only do laundry about once/month. Even *I* would have a problem thinking about the bacteria that would grow on those rags all month.

Aydan said...

OK, need to learn to choose the posts I read during breakfast, better...

I like recycled better than normal: it's thinner, but seems more durable (at least the Seventh Generation kind) and cheap!

Juliana Crespo said...

We use cloths for #1, and Seventh Generation toilet paper for #2. For now, it's a good compromise. Eventually, we might use cloths for #2, too. It's funny, now that we've gotten started doing that, I feel guilty when I don't use cloths for #1 (like when we run out and have to wash them). It's great the way your mind begins to work this way.

Chile said...

If you must use toilet paper, at least get a composting toilet so it's not flushed away. :)

Anonymous said...

A halfway measure is cloth "kleenex". We have had great success with that!

Betsy said...

@ Oldnovice - no drying necessary after a bidet. My bf gave me one of these: http://www.pilotbidet.com/productpb100.htm for my birthday a few years ago, and I've been TP- and cloth-wipe-free ever since. You drip dry, and then you dry off on the inside of your underwear. It's absolutely, totally fine. (And I wear some scandalous undies!)

I say the same thing every time Crunchy brings up the cloth wipes...but it cracks me up to be more radical than she is on a topic. And maybe, just maybe, I can convince some people to try it...sooo much less gross than pee-soaked (or worse!) cloths hanging out in your bathroom.

Greenpa said...

:-)!

ah, what fun. The images...

A little seriously- has Consumer Reports ever done research on TP effectiveness?

Part of the problem could EASILY be companies that design their paper to actually NEED 5 pieces per wipe so they don't fall apart at the critical point. You don't see ads proclaiming "Just one piece! Is all you need!" Instead it's all about softness- which means weak fiber, mostly.

It would possibly be easier to get people to adopt a TP that is certified as strong, so you need less- than to get them to go to cloth, that has to be washed.

And Segwyne's arguments could certainly have plenty of power there...

:-)

Surviving and thriving on pennies said...

For now we use clothe for #1 and recycled TP for #2. Before there was no way I could budget in recycled tp for a family of 6. And 5 of those were girls. Now that were using cloth I buy less tp. My girls have stuck to it with no problems.
I get many gripes from my family about this issue. At first I thought I wouldnt tell them but then I remembered "I'm green, suck it!". So I told them and stuck to my guns (im so against guns..) and don't let their comments bother me.
To me I believe any change is good change. And it really URKS me when I see people not even trying to change. Its too much for these busy people to try to help this earth that keeps them living. But I keep trying to convert and teach as much as I can.

I just dont see how people can be so selfish and think of just themselves. Im not asking them to change completely, just open their eyes to new things and think of mankind for once.

Kim from Milwaukee said...

Why, oh why, does the rest of the world want to be like the US??? Is everyone bent on self-destruction? Will they copy us when we finally make strides in solar energy and conservation? I sure hope so.

cloth for #1, 7th Gen for #2. lovelovelove recycled tp, doesn't shred or leave confetti.

kai said...

The Funny part is that I use cloth baby wipes and cloth diapers, and Luna pads instead of disposables, but it has never occured to me to use cloth wipes for adults. I'm the only girl in our house; I could switch to cloth for #1 and no one else would even notice. But it hadn't even occured to me until I read this.

rfs said...

We used recycled paper. I can't get my young girls to use cloth pads let alone cloth wipes!!
Sounds a bit icky (okay when it's a cute little baby's bottom) and what about the water we would be using to wash all those bummy rags??
Beatrice

dc said...

Mullein, sometimes called camper's toilet paper would grow almost anywhere. You could just step outside, harvest one of those big soft leaves (probably more if you're American) then flush them into the waste stream where they'd biodegrade.

By the way, if you're using 100% recycled TP for #1 you can add it to your compost bin.

Megan@SortaCrunchy said...

"toilet paper usage, one of my favorite topics."

I need that on a t-shirt.

I honestly cannot imagine why more people do not use cloth. It is SO MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE. Even if luxury brand toilet paper used no trees at all. If, for example, Toilet Paper Fairies produced Charmin with magic wands and fairy dusy, even still - cloth is more effective than paper. Always.

Interesting article and commentary, CC. As always, my gratitude.

Condo Blues said...

I never buy TP based on softness. I grew up camping, and with an RV stiff as a board 1 ply is the rule unless you want to stop up your black water tank (not fun.)

Megan - I'll tell you why I don't do cloth TP. I have reusable options for everything but that and don't see making the switch anytime soon. I have a small family and do laundry on a weekly and for some loads biweekly basis based on waiting for enough items to make a full load. I don't want the house or bathroom to smell like a laundry pail waiting for a full load.

MadameMim said...

I'm seriously thinking about this. It's just me and my 4 year old daughter, so it would be really easy to go cloth for #1. I'd have to remind her that she needs to use regular TP at daddy's house without complaining, cause I'd surely hear about how I'm ridiculously insane to nix the TP...

I've been reading all the old posts about the cloth challenge, and I think I still have an old flannel sheet in our hall closet...it just may be cut into 6x6 squares by tomorrow morning.

Heather said...

Are you really sure that cloth wipes use fewer resources than disposable paper? I ran some numbers on this a while back looking at water use, GHG emissions, use of mined (i.e. nonrenewable) resources and came to the surprising conclusion that disposable paper was probably *better* for the environment. I can email you my calculations if you want. Of course, if you're using something for your wipes that would otherwise have gone to the landfill (such as a ripped sheet that wasn't readily mendable) then the equation changes. But if you're going to the fabric store and buying new fabric, I'm pretty sure that that's significantly WORSE for the environment than using recycled TP.

knutty knitter said...

Depends how you wash them. I just add them into everything else (#1 only) and do the usual cold wash. They don't take a lot of space and line drying isn't energy intensive either.

Probably the equivalent of one extra t shirt twice a week. (and they did start life as t shirts :)

viv in nz

Heather said...

@knutty knitter

The vast majority of the environmental impact of cloth wipes is in growing the cotton - not washing them. To grow and process 1g of cotton makes nearly 36.5g of CO2e greenhouse emissions and requires 5 1/3 litres of water!!!!!

--Heather

Heather said...

Sorry - didn't quite finish that. For comparision, to grow and process the wood into 1g of paper you make only 2.5g of CO2e greenhouse emissions and consume only 75mL of water.. So, gram for gram cotton makes about 15 times the greenhouse emissions and uses about 70 times as much water as does paper. Plus a cloth wipe is likely to be heavier than the 3-4 pieces of toilet paper it replaces.

--Heather

Chile said...

I'm sad to see no one else is speaking up here. There is absolutely no reason to go buy brand new cloth for cloth wipes. Mine are made from a terry cloth (cotton) towel that I purchased from a thrift store. Yes, it took energy and water to grow it initially but it had already had a life as someone's bath towel before I rescued it from entering the waste stream. I've been using the same cloth wipes for two years already and these should last for years to come. They add an inconsequential amount to my laundry load but save me hundreds of dollars and hundreds of gallons in flushes each year. As they do wear out, I'll be able to compost them, too, something I cannot do with toilet paper unless I spend the money to buy a composting toilet.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Yep - what Chile said.

Juli said...

Yet one more reason to take the cloth wipe challenge- less office paper is being recycled, and China is buying a lot of it, driving up the price.

http://gawker.com/5522711/chinas-dirty-war-on-americas-toilet-paper

(I love the graphic! Though I hate thick 'luxury' TP- it has always skeeved me out. Something about wiping paper the texture of spongy felt, that throws off white dust like no-one's business...just ew.)

Shona~ LALA dex press said...

This is the one thing I just can't get on board with. I am great with "if it's yellow, let it mellow..." and have no problems using friend's composting toilets, but I just can't go the cloth route.

Trader Joe's 12-pack of 100% recycled TP $3.99.

It's my understanding that the increase of TP usage in Africa and China is based on western travelers either expecting it, or hotels + other establishments wanting to attract westerners + thinking that TP is the way to do that. I have a group of friends who rough it around the world + their best stories are descriptions of the facilities.

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