Many of us make a concerted effort to choose waste-free options over disposable products. But our search for a better way tends to stop at the bathroom door. In this article, we’ll show you how you can make the switch to more sustainable toilet paper alternatives.
The United States use more toilet paper per person than any other country. According to estimates from statista.com , the average American goes through about 141 rolls per year. Germany comes in second with 134 rolls, and the UK in third with 127.
Toilet paper is made with bleached kraft pulp, a substance manufactured from wood chips, which (surprise!) come from trees. That means that increased use of toilet paper leads to more rapid deforestation and all of the negative environmental effects that come along with that. To make matters worse, very often, toilet paper is made from virgin wood pulp, as opposed to recycled.
Maybe you’ve arrived at this article because you are ecologically conscious, and using regular toilet paper doesn’t conform to your values. Or, maybe you’ve been googling “toilet paper alternatives” out of necessity: you don’t have any left at home, the shelves in the supermarket are bare because of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Either way, we’ve got some solutions.
Toilet Paper Alternatives #1: Washcloth, Soap and Water
Yeah, yeah, we know. Ew. But sometimes when nature calls, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. Whether you are looking for toilet paper alternatives because you want to cut toilet paper out of your life, or because you simply can’t get your hands on any, a washcloth is not the worst idea. The advantages? Getting clean using a method that is similar to what you’re used to. The disadvantage? Having to clean the cloth. But with hot water, soap and a slight mindset adjustment towards a more rugged perspective, it’s really not that bad.
Toilet Paper Alternatives #2: Just Soap and Water
If you grew up in the United States, toilet paper might seem like an absolutely indispensable part of daily life, but the truth is that using toilet paper is a cultural practice, just like driving on the right side of the road, or nodding your head ‘yes’, or predicting when spring will come based on the behavior of a groundhog. We do it that way, but not everyone in the world does, and alternative methods work just as well, if not better, than ours.
Anyone who is from, or has traveled to, places like India, North Africa, or the Middle East, knows that in those places, it is considered taboo to eat or to shake hands with your left hand. Why? Because that is the hand that you use to wash yourself after doing the number two. You might think this is gross, but people who grew up in those places think that you are even grosser. Consider this: if you were walking barefoot outside and stepped in dung, would you just wipe it off with paper and get on with your day? Pretty sure that would be a hard no. You would go directly to the nearest source of water and wash yourself. Why would you treat your butt any different?
The fact is, outside the US, the UK, northern Europe and Australia, the rest of the world washes themselves with water after using the toilet, because it is the only way to really get clean. Not only is dropping the toilet paper habit better for the environment, it’s better for butt hygiene.
All you need to make this change in your life is any small container with a spout and some soap. We assume you can figure out the rest on your own.
Toilet Paper Alternatives #3: Bidets
Since the rest of the world has been using water to clean their bums for quite awhile, they’ve had ample opportunity to refine the process. Over time, different contraptions have been invented to make this practice easier and, dare we say, kind of fun. If you are ready to fully commit to a cleaner butt and a cleaner environment, here are some toilet-paper alternatives that you can install in your bathroom for long term use.
Starting off with the least fun option, the bidet is a creation of the French. It is basically a low, oval basin with a sort of faucet that allows water to flow at a convenient angle for cleaning. The downside is, it has to be installed in your bathroom next to your toilet and could get a bit pricey, as well as being a bit bulky.
As a simple toilet paper alternative, in many places in Asia, hand bidets are everywhere. A hand bidet is a little shower nozzle that is installed next to your toilet. It is easier (and more fun) to use than a full French bidet, and is cheaper to install.
If you like the sound of that but it still seems too expensive, you can buy a small hand-held bidet bottle like this one on Amazon**:
If you are committed to achieving the most magical bathroom experience possible, and are willing to invest money to get it, this toilet paper alternative is the option for you.
In Japan, they have crafted the ultimate toilet that will fulfill every last one of your wildest lavatory dreams. These high-tech devices feature not only little water nozzles that work as a built-in bidet, but also adjustable water pressure and temperature, an option for soapy water, an integrated blow dryer, deoderizer, air conditioning below the rim, heated seats, armrests, and to top it all off, it plays relaxing music while you are taking care of business.
This is Too Scary for Me
Change can be difficult, and for some people, bathroom rituals are particularly sacred. If you want to help the environment, but you aren’t ready to change your approach to cleaning yourself after going to the toilet in a fundamental way, there is still something you can do.
Buy recycled toilet paper. People tend to buy virgin toilet paper products because there is a pervading belief that they are softer and stronger than the recycled kind. That is probably true in some cases, but not always! Recycled toilet paper can be just as comfortable and just as durable as the non-recycled kind.
In the supermarket, check the label carefully to see what percentage of wood pulp is virgin and what percentage is recycled. If you can’t find a product that you are satisfied with, try an online company like Who Gives A Crap: their soft, 3-ply toilet paper is made with 100% recycled paper, and they even donate half of their profits to building toilets for those in need.
Text by Annika Flatley & Christie Saccoaffiliate links: If you buy here, you actively support Utopia.org because we get a small portion of the proceeds.
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