Family Cloth V Toilet Paper
Most people would not generally consider toilet paper to be harmful to the environment, especially when comparing it to items made of plastic, for example. However, the problems with toilet paper occur within the manufacturing process; National Geographic estimated that around 27,000 trees are cut down every day to make toilet paper. The process also requires an enormous amount of water (nearly 170 litres for a single roll), and chemicals, such as chlorine, are used to give the toilet paper its softness and whiteness. These chemicals could then end up within the local water sources. In addition, not only is toilet paper a single use item, but it usually comes wrapped in plastic wrapping, some of which cannot be recycled. This ends up in landfill.
There are a few eco-friendly alternatives to using regular toilet paper, such as using more eco-friendly toilet paper (e.g. Ecoleaf and Who Gives a Crap?), a Bidet, or 'family cloth').
Family Cloth is when the whole family use cloth wipes to wipe themselves after they have used the toilet. This will cut out the need for single use toilet paper, as the idea behind family cloth is that the wipes are washed and reused, again and again.
If the thought of this makes you feel queasy, continue reading, as like with reusable nappies, it does not have to be all or nothing - family cloth can be used on a part-time basis too.
If you are scared at the thought of handling your partner's dirty wipes ready for washing, after they've been for a number 2, then maybe you could consider just using family cloth for wees only (and tissue paper for those number 2s). This means that you will cut down considerably on your use of toilet paper, since we tend to go to the toilet more often for wees.
You can also decide whether to run the wipe under the tap to make it warm before use, or leave it dry, whichever you would find most comfortable.
Plus if you are already using reusable nappies on your baby/toddler, then washing these wipes will be easy; you will already be doing regular nappy washes, and therefore, the wipes can be stored with the used nappies and thrown in the wash with them. The wipes will then be cleaned thoroughly enough for them to be used by the family again!
You see! It doesn't sound as gross as you may have initially thought!