Going To The Bathroom Sustainably
According to National Geographic, 270,000 trees a day are “dumped into facilities or flushed,” in toilet paper alone. The same article says that “various estimates place the quantity of waste paper tossed into U.S. dumps and landfills at 35-40 percent of total land filled mass.”
Growing up in the United States, I was never exposed to any other way to go to the bathroom than just using plain old toilet paper. I remember seeing a bidet on TV and my parents telling me I should feel lucky I didn't have to use something like that. Sitting here writing this article now has opened my eyes to the power that social norms have at guiding what we believe is right, and even what is superior. If you are like me, jumping straight into installing a bidet or convincing my partner to use family clothes seems a little....daunting. After doing research into the topic however, I realized that we are incredibly behind on bathroom hygiene, and it is mostly because toilet paper consumption brings a lot of money into the economy each year in the United States and Canada. If you are interested in learning more in-depth information about how toilet paper is incredibly harmful to our ecosystem, check out this article ["Toilet Paper Is Driving The Climate Crisis with Every Flush"]
This article is here to get you thinking about some options to start working towards for a more sustainable routine, and I have included some other articles that really helped me to understand the issue! All of these swaps are affordable and accessible to most, and actually save you money in the long run.
I know, I know, family cloths sound… well strange to say the least [Read “What Is ‘The Family Cloth’ And Why Do People Use It?”]. I am here to assure you that it is NOT a cloth that sits in your bathroom to be used by the whole family! Instead, family cloths are typically sets of clean rags in your bathroom that take the place of toilet paper. They get put into a wet bag or closed bin, and should be washed every 4 days at least to avoid smell! These are best paired with a bidet so that all you are wiping off is water.
Tips from The Pistachio Project:
-Not THAT ready for family cloth? You can totally just use family cloth for going #1! Switching to family cloth for #1 will still save you a ton of toilet paper! Or just get an affordable bidet and only wipe water!
-A good rule of thumb is to have 5 cloth wipes per person per day. You will want a minimum of 2 days worth so that you always have some while washing a load.
Not only are bidets more hygienic and Eco-friendly than toilet paper, they save you money too! In the United States, bidets typically come in the form of attachments that get hooked up to either your toilet water supply line or your sink faucet. The attachments can range from handheld sprayers to toilet seat attachments, this article reviews a wide range of bidet attachments that are affordable and reliable.
Bidets do not use the dirty toilet bowl water, and you are able to control temperature and pressure with most attachments. Most people either air dry the water, or use a family cloth to wipe away the water after use. Even if you choose to use toilet paper to dry off, you are going to use a significant amount less, and will probably end up preferring the clean feel of air drying! Bidets are commonplace in most places around the world, it is time we cut back our heavy reliance on toilet paper consumption.
100% Recycled Toilet Paper
The largest U.S. tissue product manufacturers—Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark, and Georgia-Pacific—continue to make toilet paper from 100 percent virgin forest fiber and feed a devastating “tree-to-toilet pipeline.” This destroys critical and already endangered/threatened habitat, see the chart below to see just how many polluting steps happen between cutting down forests to the toilet paper being wrapped in plastic and stuck on a shelf to continue being transported.
Toilet paper’s impact is even more severe because, since it is so short-lived, it quickly releases its remaining carbon into the atmosphere. According to the Environmental Paper Network, toilet paper made from trees has three times the climate impact as toilet paper created using recycled materials. If you aren't ready to take the dive into the world of bidets and family clothes, switching to a recycled toilet paper is a great way to minimize your impact and show companies we want change.
The best recycled toilet paper I have come across is made by Who Gives a Crap. They have the highest percentage of recycled paper (100 percent post-consumer waste from schools near its factory in China), and their toilet paper is processed without chlorine, has recycled-cardboard cores and boxes, and is vegan. Who Gives a Crap is a certified B Corporation, which means that it has to meet certain criteria regarding protecting the environment and paying workers a fair wage!
To view an incredibly interesting live counter tracking toilet paper usage and consumption around the world, click here. There are so many interesting resources out there, and so many ways to Cut The Crap!