Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

How Far Would You Go to Save a Tree?

Worldwide, the equivalent of 27,000 trees are flushed down the toilet everyday, adding up to almost 10 million trees a year.

Astounding, isn’t it?

That’s only 10% of the 270,000 “trees” worth of paper-related products that are discarded each day in landfills and water systems.

On top of that, according to Treehugger:

“Making a roll of toilet paper uses 1.5 pounds of wood, 37 gallons of water and 1.3 KWh of of electricity.”

How can Mother Earth possibly keep up with us humans?

We’re attached to our habits though, aren’t we?  One survey indicated that Americans are more willing to give up books than toilet paper.  But what if there was an easy alternative that actually felt cleaner and less irritating than the dry cleaning method?

The Cleaner, Fresher Alternative

I became obsessed with this topic when Robin Easton, author of Naked in Eden, My Adventures in the Australian Rainforest, suggested the use of pee rags in her list of 20 ways to find sanity through awareness and actions.  Pee rags are small strips of cloth that are used as a wipe, thrown into a container with lid, washed once a week in the washing machine, and reused.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but it does use less water than producing a single role of toilet paper.  It’s a good option in areas where drought presents a concern.

With all due respect to Robin, given the volume of product I use, I have concerns about an overflowing bucket and the resulting fragrance factor.  My water is naturally supplied in ample quantities by the sky via a rain-water catchment system.

So a more appealing option, in my eyes, is the hand-held health faucet:

“A health faucet or bidet shower (or colloquially as a “bum gun”) is a hand-held triggered nozzle, similar to that on a sink sprayer, that delivers a spray of water to assist in cleansing the user’s anus or genitals after defecation or urination. It is usually placed in a small holder attached to the wall, on the right hand side of a flush toilet and connected via a short hose to the plumbing and faucet that feeds the flush cistern.”

On the plus side, a hand-held bidet is relatively inexpensive ranging from US $36 – 69 for the Blue Bidet version.  On the down side, the “room temperature” stream might be a surprise in the Winter months.  Some models are plastic rather than metal and even metal ones may contain some plastic parts.  You’ll need a small towel for drying off.

Blue Bidet also offers several styles of toilet-integrated bidets that cost between $37-89.  These look plastic but the internal fixture is said to be brass.  The higher end model features warm water.

People who were reluctant to use a hand-held bidet at first, later swear it’s a great improvement over toilet paper, leaving you feeling cleaner and fresher.  I’ve been trying one out and so far I agree, although I haven’t tried it for serious business yet.

While many people in the world use the wet cleaning system, in developed countries we’ve grown accustomed to the “luxury” and convenience of toiler paper.  It can be hard to break through our culturally embedded ideas of what’s “better.”  But this convenience comes at a great cost.  You can read about the environmental impacts in the article Flushing Forests, the source of information for this post.

It’s not easy to break automatic habits, but why not toy with the idea?  If you are not quite ready for water cleansing, you can still help to save virgin tress.  Check out 5 Ways to Green Your Toilet paper at Groovy Green Livin’.

How far would you go to save a tree?  Have you ever used a water cleaning system for this purpose?  What do you think about the idea?

If you enjoyed this article please share the link.  Thank you!  And I would love to connect with you on Google+ or the Always Well Within Facebook Page.   With love, Sandra.

Image:  Birch Forest

Note:  This is not intended as an advertisement for Blue Biddet.  I’ve never used their products and thus cannot comment on their quality.


The Joy of a Meaning-Less Life


Inspiration for Cultivating Your Voice


  1. Jean Sampson

    I have a great case of “bidet envy” because my German friend put a bidet in her house and loves it! I want one, but there is no room in my tiny place….the hand held model sound nice, though. She says she doesn’t even need a shower more than several times a month—–well, I work out and sweat like a waterfall, so that would not work for me. But it would still be a great thing for us to all consider.

    • Hi Jean,

      The hand-held version or toilet integrated bidet might be the perfect option to address your “bidet envy” as they don’t take up much space! Good luck with finding an option that works for you. I live on the rainy side of an island so I have plenty of water where I live. I shower less than I use to but I too would find it challenging to cut showers off my list entirely.

  2. Dearest Sandra,

    I am honored to be mentioned here and I love all the alternatives you have mentioned.

    I think it can depend on where we live, as to what we do. I live in an extremely drought ridden area, where even almost every single public bathroom has notices warning people to PUH-LEASE use water sparingly. So using water in place of toilet paper (or dunny paper, as the Aussies say) is not a good option for us. BUT the other advantage is that my “pee rags” never smell. I don’t use them for solid waste, only liquid. One of the reasons they don’t smell is that it is SO dry here, anything wet dries in minuets (which is great if you spill water on clothing or a rug, etc.).

    We had to work out which option was best for our desert area. This seemed like the best so far. I am not sure how it would be for other areas of the country or world. And yet, I know their were water shortages even in Boston, Massachusetts a few years ago. One friend told me there were water “wars” in the area. So this is something I am still sorting out.

    I LOVE all your statistics here. They are mind blowing. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I’m so glad you took the time to research and share them.

    An aside, a bit off topic but: We have also been working on the “garbage” issue. We now only have about 1 – 2 TINY bags of trash a month that we put out for curbside pick up. Our small bit of recycle goes on the curb only once a month, if that. But then…..we are now eating an all raw diet of whole food, which makes this much easier. 🙂 🙂

    I applaud you a thousand times over for choosing consciousness as your path. I am deeply grateful for your presence here and in my heart. You are truly an amazing, aware soul. I am so GRATEFUL. Much love to you my dear friend. I’ve missed you. So good to feel your brave light-filled spirit here.


    • Hello Robin dearest!

      Seriously, I’ve pee rags have been in the back of my mind since you wrote about them! I finally took the time to read about them in more detail. Thank you for clarifying why they are a better option than a bidet in drought-ridden areas. I amended the article to mention that. A very important point! Here anything that gets wet never dries and mold is waiting to jump on board and spread like wildfire. You are absolutely right, we need to find an option that works in relation to our particular environment…that’s ecology, isn’t it?

      Thanks for the inspiration when it comes to containing garbage too. I produce very little actual “garbage” but it’s amazing how the recycling builds up and my packaged foods are kept to a minimum. I will have to work on that one a little more.

      As always, I thank you for your generous words of appreciation. I’m so grateful to be connected with amazing women like you who are so committed, loving, and leading the way.

  3. Sensible, useful tips toward more ethical living. I enjoy this kind of problem-solving in general. Here’s more to add to yours:

    Out here we have no sewer system, and the well water is so full of minerals it destroys faucets and water heater tanks, let alone a bidet. We’re all on septic tanks, so folks here don’t use standard TP because it takes too much water to degrade, and getting your tank cleared is expensive. The one thing not dealt with in the Greening Your TP article (recycled TP, portion control etc.) was the fact that you don’t need trees to make paper. Several crops like sugar cane, kenaf, bamboo and hemp use less water to grow and yield more paper than trees. It feels the same, but dissolves faster in less water. They sell it at our co-op, but these products are all available online too, as is Marcel’s recycled TP. Ecomall, Sugarmade, Hiranicorp are some of the names. BrightGreen is sold at chains like Safeway. You can Google “tree-free toilet paper”.

    • Brilliant suggestion, Mike. This is mentioned in the “Flushing Toilets” article too. I’ve never seen tree free toilet paper at my health food store. It never occurred to me to look at a Safeway since I never shop there. But I will definitely give a look. Thanks for this tip! I’ve been using recycled toilet paper.

  4. Hi Sandra, thank you so much for the mention. I’ve managed to reduce paper waste in my home tremendously. We use reusable napkins and rags for paper towels. I’m fascinated by the use of a pee rag, but quite honestly it’s not for me. I have to stick with good ol’ fashioned toilet paper. A bidet is something I could get used to….

  5. You’re welcome. I loved your article on toilet paper. When I read it awhile back it started moving me into more conscious consumption in this arena. I appreciate how all your articles are so stimulating and informative. Thanks for sharing your take on these options.

  6. Great post, Sandra! I use 100% recycled toilet paper, but have been thinking about cloth for a while. Cloth pads, cloth toilet paper…is there really that much of a difference? I don’t know if I’m quite ready to take the plunge, but it’s certainly on my mind. One thing is clear: there is absolutely no reason to use virgin wood for toilet paper, no matter how cushy. It’s just not environmentally or ethically sound. Surprisingly, it’s still hard to find recycled at major stores like Target. I don’t usually shop there, but I bring up the lack of recycled toilet paper to customer service every now and then.

    • I’ve been using recycled toilet paper too for the longest time and I think it’s a great step forward. It’s hard to believe it’s not available at major stores like Target. You’re right, there’s no reason to use virgin wood for toilet paper but it’s still the standard. Thanks for being the committed advocate that you are. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on your blog once you take the plunge!

  7. My mother switched to a bidet decades ago and always swore by it. I have noticed when traveling outside the US that other countries use much less toilet paper, often in rationing dispensers, and it is not the same quality as here. I always thought that was so sensible–ration it. I taught my kids that they only needed a few squares to get the job done. The suggestions in your post and in the comments often even better ideas. I will give this some serious thought. Thank you!

    • HI Galen, It’s interesting to hear about people like your mother. Lots of people find a bidet a much better option, but for most of us our ideas our so limited by our cultural mores. It’s wonderful we are in the process of change now and the efforts that people like you have made to teach their children alternatives will really be more apparent in the future. Good luck with your serious thought on the topic!

  8. Oh Sandra, you would like the loos in Japan! Toto is the brand, it’s everywhere with endless “posterior washing” options! But I don’t think the heated seats and smelly sprays can be very good for the environment…..

  9. Annabel,

    Isn’t it funny about how our ideas on cleansing this area are so culturally based and different! This is one way that travel can really open our eyes. I agree though that the heated seats and smelly sprays are not necessarily the way to go! 🙂

  10. Well, that certainly was a surprising topic. I did not expect the blog to be about that, but I applaud you for tackling it!

    I like Mikey’s suggestions about tree free toilet paper. I never even knew such a thing existed. I do try to be conscious and only use the smallest amount of toilet paper necessary. My old house was on a septic system also and I had to switch to one ply and be very conservative with using it. Not a bad thing!

    We have a rule at my house not to flush the toilet every time some one just urinates. To flush the toilet every time wastes so much water. Every third or fourth time is more than sufficient.

    • Oh no! I guess I’m guilty of a deceptive blog title!!!!! That is a great suggestion from Mike. I should edit the article and include it. I’ve never seen it at my health food store, but I’m sure it’s available some places.

      I’m not surprised that you are conscious about your use of toilet paper and about flushing the toilet. It’s encouraging to see this! Gradually, we will make a shift!

  11. The pee rags remind me of diapers. Which is not a bad thing. I’m really good about recycling and composting, but I’m terrible at using too much toilet paper. The great thing about this post is that it raises my awareness so that I can now be conscious of what I’m doing, toilet paper wise. By the way, love your new design!

  12. I hope I didn’t give the impression that you wear pee rags! That made me laugh. I’ve been a prolific user too. It’s all about raising awareness, isn’t it? Once we are aware we can take steps in a new direction, whatever it might be.

    Thanks for the feedback on the design. I like the simplicity of it. I’ve also upload several headers so they rotate in random. I can never settle on one! I enjoy the change!

    Thanks for your thoughts, Charlotte.

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén