Welcome to our Go Green Challenge: 4 Weeks to an Earth-Friendly Home! Find more posts from this series here.
Alright, confession. I sort of took last week off from this eco-friendly business because it is exhausting to think so much about garbage and food and clothing. I know once I get into a groove, it will all be second nature. I just needed a seven-day breather.
We still recycled like crazy and set aside our food waste for compost (my worms are super-slackers and not eating much so I might have to find another composting solution). We didn’t buy much of anything new and I visited a new-to-me thrift shop (hello there, Red, White & Blue).
This is the garbage we sent to the curb this morning. It’s a bit fuller than the past three weeks because my parents were in town this weekend and well, these people produce some garbage. I just don’t understand. The second picture is the almost-overflowing “non-curbside recycling” bin. We really need to do something with this stuff.
So, we’re still in the game, I just wasn’t ready to dive into Week Three’s challenge: Go paperless. But now I’m ready.
The time has arrived, friends. We are giving up toilet paper and wipes. We spent the weekend sewing up a batch of cloths that will serve as reusable wipes.
And by “we” I mean my garbage-creating mother and my kids. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! You’re the best!
Here’s our plan this week: We are using these flannel wipes for all wiping purposes. Yes, all of them. Including that one.
Why? Because going paperless is totally lame if you’re just switching paper towels for kitchen ones or using a rag instead of paper napkins. Big whoop.
Ditching tp and using a flannel butt wipe? That’s totally awesome and absolute blogging gold. (Do NOT tell my children that I just used the b-u-t-t word. They would stop functioning altogether.)
And after reading some of comments over on Facebook, it’s an issue that warrants some serious passion. I am floored at how upset some of you got about how someone you don’t even know is planning to end her bathroom experience. 73 comments, people. 73!
So, in conclusion, this week is going to be the most rad week ever. Bring on the wipes!
Side note: I am making this exercise optional for my older children just because I don’t want them to have to talk about it with strangers. I know some fool is going to tell their children about this challenge (“Did you know that the Davis kids aren’t allowed to use toilet paper?”) and then that child will tease my child in school and then I will need to add a “Therapy” envelope to our monthly budget. Soooo… if you know my children in real life, please do not mention this. Kthanksbye!
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What I wonder, why not a washlet bidet attached to your toilet? You can eliminate probably 95% of your wipes use (from being in a hurry to wait for the dryer to do it’s job). I’ve tried to go through your posts here and I’ve not seen any mention of a bidet set up?
Yes, they’re a bit costly up front, but in the end (bahaha, I said in the end), you’re not using your washer and dryer or laundry soap and it is much, much cleaner than dry wiping. Their use of electricity to operate is pretty low and doesn’t come close to operating a dryer.
When looking at washlets you want to make sure you get one with heated water and self cleaning nozzels… otherwise, as a reviewer noted, might as well just grab a garden hose if you go with the cheap model. There are the tankless water heaters that provide unlimited warm water or the tanked ones that limit your washing time and require a few minutes between washes for the water to re-heat. (But I AM in Alaska now and there is no way you want to use the water unheated… I think it probably comes out at 34*F.)
One last note, vs. the old fashioned bidets… this is an all in one. Even if you have the room for two separate units in your bathroom I think the washlet is superior because there’s no “moving” between… but then I don’t have a lot of experience with the traditional, separate bidet units.
My kids would flush a flannel wipe and the cost of a plumber outweighs any benefits to me *lol*
Amy f;) says
I used reusable tp for a while one year. We were very close to being out of debt. I was pregnant and making a hundred trips to the bathroom a day. I had one little boy potty training, so I was washing reusable pullups and an ocassional extra load of sheets already.
Just made sense.
Although I can get by on less than most. I have to say I am OK with paper tp. Especially when it is recycled and unbleached. I also go out of my way to avoid the small rolls and double sheet variety. The mega roll of the crunchy paper is good with me. I wonder with all the embodied energy that goes into cotton one is saving that much resources. It would be a good use for your old “grunge” flannel shirts or old nightgowns.
Along these same lines- instead of buying disposable nursing pads, I bought some white flannel and made my own. Cut the circles the size you want – layer 6 deep and zigzag around the edge. I made 4 sets.
I breastfed my youngest for 13 months and these were still in good condition when I was done. And way more comfortable than the disposables.
All my children were in cloth, and I used soakers that I knit and shrunk to cover them. They were all potty trained day and night before 2 because none of them liked to be wet. 2 of my 3 current grandchildren have been doing their business since they were younger than 12 months old, but still are working on the nights. If I had a baby now I would try earlier as is done in much of the rest of the world-and not have to deal much with diapers. Everybody is curious about #2, what about “girlie” issues? Is there a different bin for that, as there is staining involved-and you don’t want everything to be colored. And, you don’t have to have “white” wipes, just clean ones, so go easy on that bleach.
Yeah, I’m going to pass on the bleach.
I am glad to hear that I am not the only one who had this idea. Of course, I have yet to implement it yet, but it has been a thought of mine for a few months now. I was thinking of the amount of toilet paper I currently waste because I just can not do the drip dry method. Will you have different colored rags for each member of the family or specific colored rags for a #1 vs. #2 wipe? I have not researched anything yet, but in the outhouse days, I wonder how they handled the hygiene thing. I am interested to see how your experience turns out. Sorry for all the judgemental folks out there, but I encourage your creativity and bravery.
someone told me that people used to use the pages of the sears catalogs for tp…
I know it would be more $$ for me. Not that i would opt for this, but more power to you! I think it would matter on your local water rates. We have the most ridiculously high water bills in Lebanon. We don’t water the lawn, only do soiled linens and our bill runs about $250 in the summer. And their raising our water again this month. Yeah 🙁
I used both cloth and disposables. My kids now 27, 24, 24. There was a huge push for cloth diapers back then. In fact little childrens resale stores survived on the “chinese cloth diapers” which were the best, but, expensive, and the natural diaper covers cotton or wool. They were great, but I worked full time, fortunately the day care center used a diaper service so the kids had cloth there. I used more cloth in the summer when it was hot, it seemed they could breath better than a plastic sweaty diaper. but if we were out and about disposables are the only way to go.
After the big surge in the environment concerns, cotton diapers kind of went out of style as the studies showed that disposables were more environmentally friendly. Used less of the earths resources. As more and more studies poured in. The little kids stores that were making a lot of money on cloth diapers and coverups etc. started going out of business. I went into one that is still in business recently and asked about the cloth diaper business. She said their business has never been as successful as then. They had made a huge amount on cloth.
As far as costs go. If you don’t pay much for water then cloth is cheaper, but my sister who lives in so. cal. if they have a dry spell their water costs are huge 700-800 a month!! Its illegal for them to wash their own car. They have to go to a drive thru car wash, which recylces water.
I’m thinking that cloth diapering is especially economical for us in the Northwest because both water and electricity are relatively inexpensive (if we’re comparing to almost anywhere else in the world).
I too used cloth diapers for all three of my children. Not many choices back then. We still use dishcloths and dish towels. Not sure i could handle no t.p. hats off to you. I was thrifty before it was popular. I have always been a yards ale and thrift store shopper. Learned from my mom who had seven kids. We would benefit as a society if we wanted less, we would use less.
I used cloth diapers and wash cloths for 6 kids – and hung the wash out on the line to dry. It was cheap and I highly recommend using a borax rinse to change the ph in the wash. Borax is a natural product, by the way. The sun, when there is some helps brighten and sanitize the wash, too. When I had triplets later in life I discovered that my hands could not endure the constant washing out of solids so had to switch to disposable. Indeed they were much more expensive.
Triplets? You get a pass on pretty much everything!
I was also surprised at the outrage and disgust people expressed over a stranger switching to reusable TP.
Can’t wait to hear how it goes 🙂
In the philippines, we dont use toilet paper, to the dismay of my american husband. you use left hand, water and soap (you use the right hand for eating with your fingers)! Didnt know, but we were green back then! haha!
Diana Haines says
I found a place in Seattle that does recycle all those other plastics. I just looked on the internet and found a place but they are also listed under recycling in phone book. I do remember one in Portland that I contacted before I found the one in Seattle. I also believe there is one in Kent, WA. The styrofoam has many places that recycle that. If you live in the Seattle are it is by the Ikea store. They take blocks and worms and also some other forms of the styrofoam. If you do a little research I think there are other places that will take it also. In Tacoma, WA the city dump has a place you can put the styrofoam. Hope that helps some and congratulations on moving more toward wasting less and utilizing what you have.
The Hillsboro recycling used to take the other plastic (and I was so happy about that! I am much happier when I don’t have to throw things away), but as there are limited processes in place to use this-they have discontinued it for now.
Over the years I have seen this one come and go. The only one I still know about is clamshell plastics (like the clear plastic for take out food)-at New Seasons.
There used to be a styrofoam one in Willsonville-but I tried to find that again recently & couldn’t.
I would be happy to hear about any other ones too.
Far West Fibers off Denny Rd & 217 takes most recyclables
I’m wondering about the cost, of course, thinking there can’t be much savings but would be happy to be proved wrong!
I’m not sure I understand all of the environmental issues surrounding this. Maybe those who have researched cloth diapering have some knowledge they could share. I feel like the water usage would be a problem. And someone on FB commented about not needing to use hot water if the wipes were bleached, but chlorine bleach is no friend to the environment.
I guess because this is part of your eco-challenge, I’m not totally understanding what environmental benefits prompted you to try giving up tp. Is the production of even recycled tp pretty bad?
I cloth diapered all 3 of my children. They range in age from 31 – 41 – so quite a while ago!
Disposable diapers are so expensive! I don’t know how much cloth diapers are today- when my kids were babies you just bought a dozen (or 4) at Fred Meyer for $6.99. I got mine at baby showers!!
I used washcloths specific to baby’s bottom,too. No wipes.
“In the day” you would fill a bucket with hot, soapy water to put the “dirty” diapers in. You rinsed the solids into the toilet.
You washed your diapers every few days (depending on how many you had) so not a daily task.
I can’t even imagine that it would be cheaper to use disposable!! If someone can prove otherwise- enlighten me! 🙂
Unfortunately, this switch would be a relatively easy one for my family, especially my three boys. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked in to the bathroom to find an unflushed toilet with clear evidence that TP does not play a huge role (roll? 🙂 ) in their lives. Ewwwww. Sigh……..
LOL, Tara, us too! Even my girls sometimes!
You Go Girl! (and family)
Best of luck to you! Our family has been tp-free for 10 years now. We cloth diapered our first child and realized that what was good for her was good for us, too. I do keep a roll of tp for guests, but it can last as long as a year.
I saw your first post on Facebook and read some of the comments and was shocked at some of the strong, rude and close minded opinions people were giving you. Do people think cavemen had tp? Even my poor grandma didn’t have tp growing up, this isn’t really the radical, disgusting idea some people think. I don’t know that I could stick to cloth wipes for an extended length of time time, but I’m glad there are people more dedicated than me to saving our world, so thanks!
Jen P. says
I may be the sick one that wants all the details but what is your plan for cleaning the #2 rags? Is it the same idea as cloth diapering? Also, how did you get your husband on board? Seriously…
I wondered about the clean up too. Does the saving of paper really out way the environmental and financial costs of washing all those rags? What about sanitary pads and wiping during that time of month?
Where do you put the dirty rags?
I commend you for trying this challenge. It’s not something that I could probably do, but more power to you!! I saw a 20/20 segment about a family who only uses cloth for wipes. It was interesting to watch. The family doesn’t even by TP when guests come over to stay. The funny part about the program was that it wasn’t about environmental reasons for using the cloth, it was all about finding cheapest people in America segment!! The woman didn’t want to spend $$ on TP.
I look forward to hearing all about the results when the week is done.
Can’t wait to hear how it goes!
as someone who has cloth diapered 2 kids, I really wonder about the cost effectiveness and “green impact” this will have. I’m not blasting you for your choice, but I really wonder in dollars and cents how this will turn out. This will create extra laundry that will need to be washed more than once on a very high temperature. Please do let us know what you figure the cost of water and energy to be, and how it compares to the costs of TP.
I will pencil all of that out for you in a future post. Spoiler alert: Reusable is a significant savings over buying tp.
So this begs the question I’ve been meaning to ask, What about the diapers? Diapers are a much bigger source of waste than paper TP. They are much easier than they get credit for. Go for it!
I know, I know. Here’s the deal — I am pretty certain I will not continue cloth diapering after this challenge. I’m in the home stretch as far as diapering goes. I don’t want to shell out all the $ to get started to only ditch it in a few weeks. And there’s plenty of discussion about cloth diapering available on the internet. We are going to use cloth wipes for diaper changes.
I will put in another pitch for diaper service-which I used when my son was very little-it is about the same price as disposable-they deliver them to you (savings on gas)-much better for the environment AND you don’t have to wash the diapers:-) I do have friends who are much more energetic than me that wash their own diapers too-they get the most credit:-)
This is true for when they are very little & using more diapers-when they get older it isn’t as cost effective.
PS my awesome friends also used cloth wipes for their babies-not diaper wipes-they used old baby washcloths.