Remember our discussion about toilet paper awhile back? The fluffy white stuff is generally very bad for the planet. Recycled TP is better and is what we buy as a family. Although in the back of my mind I knew that even recycled TP was not the BEST option for a green family… but the alternative known as “family cloth” really kind of grossed me out. And no it wasn’t really rational because I have no issue with cloth baby wipes and cloth diapers. When some of my lovely readers commented that they were using some form of cloth wipes in their household I knew I had to at least give it a try.
I am not willing to go whole hog at this point and frankly may never be but I am happy with our compromise.
So what is family cloth exactly? It is the name given to the process of using cloth wipes or rags instead of toilet paper. There are many families out there that have made this leap, choosing to ensure that no trees are hazed simply for their convenience in wiping their backsides. Cloth wipes or rags are easy to use, inexpensive, they last a good long while, and they are reusable. Reusable kicks disposable butt hands down.
Some of the moms who commented on my toilet paper post shared that they were either using family cloth all the time or part of the time. I chose to try using cloth part time as well. This means my daughter and I use cloth wipes for clean-up after urination and the whole family used recycled TP for solid waste. Since the females always use the TP and the boys only some of the time that means this switch cut down on TP usage by about 50%. This is a money saver and a planetary resource saver.
Not wanting to sew my own wipes (or dig out my old diaper fabric) I decided to buy from a mom owned store online. I bought a couple dozen, double-sided wipes with flannel and sherpa layers. I put all them in a fabric lined basket that we already had and put them on the bathroom counter. My daughter was thrilled when I explained what they were for. She loved the colorful prints and soft fabric. I imagine this is a much easier transition for a 5 year old girl than a tween or teen. ;)
Our process is pretty simple. We have clean wipes stacked on one side of the basket and when we go in the bathroom we pull one out. Used ones go on the other side of the basket and every 2-3 days when the supply is low I just drop them in the laundry with our clothes. Actually I think having to wash these every 2-3 days keeps me on a laundry schedule so that is a nice bonus.
The cloth wipes are infinitely more comfortable than paper. I have always thought the comparison of recycled toilet paper to sand paper was a bunch of bologna and I still do…but after using cloth, TP does seem seriously disadvantaged in terms of comfort.
I am glad I decided to give it a try even if I may never be comfortable enough to use cloth full time. I am comfortable with what we HAVE been able to do.
It may not be for everybody but if you can make the leap out of your comfort zone, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
So what do you think? Practical, or green girl gone overboard?
Tuesday, April 7th, 2009