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?
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.