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alternatives to toilet paper

Lisa Paulson


Joined: Apr 17, 2010
Posts: 252
Forgive me if this topic is addressed elsewhere, I tried to search.  Today I awoke with the question why do people use toilet paper in summer?  We have abundant natural leaves and grasses in summer so why not save those processed resources of boughten toilet paper for winter ? 
With this in mind I went out in my yard and the most likely thing I came across was young grape leaves so I harvested a few to try for wiping material, not absorbant mind you but did the job.  When I mentioned this to a family member they were absolutely disbelieving because the thing you are suppose to use is toilet paper and only toilet paper in his mind.  Well Toilet paper is convenient and I am not suggesting boycotting it entirely , but in late spring,summer, early fall,  why not have a little basket with a few fresh leaves beside the commode?

I am not sure how my septic will break down grape leaves (twig part removed) but it seems to me to be saving a lot of resources and saving money.
Suzie Browning


Joined: Jun 10, 2010
Posts: 48
Location: Southwestern Ohio
The only alternatives to TP around this house will be moist wipes!  No way am I giving up toilet paper.

With that said, if I were in a position where I had to use a plant, I noticed a plant yesterday with very soft and large leaves.  It's considered a weed around here, gets about 3 feet tall and has small orange blossoms on it.  (I don't remember it's name.) I could probably deal with using it for a short time.

As a female, I'd would be concerned how my body would react to using plants as far as toxicity and or allergies that I might not be aware of.


On the border of Zones 5 & 6 on the last 2 acres of what was once a large farm.  Flat, flat and more flat!
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4432
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    4
don't think i'd put them down my septic, but could always put them in a bag for throwing in the compost (or a compost bucket)..


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1760
    
    3
Want to conserve on TP - then why not washable rags?  Cheep washcloths can be found at discount stores and garage sales, cut up into one-use sizes and washed/reused.

These can be misted with a spray bottle for a wet-wipe functionality.

The wash water can then be applied to ones compost or trees if proper natural soap is used.

Nick Peihl


Joined: Jun 10, 2010
Posts: 8
My uncle once told me about the times before indoor plumbing. On the farm, they grew a lot of corn. Every cob would be saved in a bucket and kept by the door. On your way out to the outhouse, you'd grab three cobs from the bucket, usually two dark colored ones and one lighter color.

Essentially the cobs would replace toilet paper, and you'd use the two dark ones first then follow-up with the light one to verify the first two did the job.
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
I've read that abutylon leaves work OK.


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
Muzhik McCoy


Joined: May 26, 2010
Posts: 278
Location: Iowa, border of regions 5 and 6
Jami McBride wrote:
Want to conserve on TP - then why not washable rags?  Cheep washcloths can be found at discount stores and garage sales, cut up into one-use sizes and washed/reused.

These can be misted with a spray bottle for a wet-wipe functionality.

The wash water can then be applied to ones compost or trees if proper natural soap is used.



Jami, over on American Preppers Network there was an entire multi-page thread devoted to the subject of "personal cloths".  The consensus was that the women and girls loved it, the men hated it (even though they weren't the ones doing the laundry).  Rags are cut up to use; after each use the cloth goes in a bucket with a closed lid to be washed later, just like you'd do diapers.

http://www.americanpreppersnetwork.net/
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1760
    
    3
Interesting.... thanks for the link.

I know I do not like the way organic materials seem to just 'spread-leave' and not 'absorb-clean', but hay that's just me.
Feral Hatfield


Joined: Aug 07, 2010
Posts: 271
Just posted about Peri Bottles on the Women Peeing Forum. But here's a link that goes a bit more indepth:

http://www.provident-living-today.com/Portable-Bidet.html

Not very organic.. but if you look at what they are recommending and compare that to however much toilet paper it replaces... well.. sounds like a portable Bidet may be the way to go.
Keith BC


Joined: Feb 09, 2010
Posts: 44
Location: West Coast of Canada
You could always do what most of the world does: use the left hand + water.

The reason for using the left hand rather than the right is that the right is usually used for eating.
rockguy Hatfield


Joined: Dec 20, 2009
Posts: 148
Hollyhocks with their big fuzzy leaves have long been a traditional plant for the path to the outhouse. They make a lot of seeds so once you plant them you have a lifetime supply.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
We're not suggesting that everyone go back to corncobs and outhouses, but wider use of bidets (or bidet retrofits, like Toto's washlet) would surely help cut back on this waste. However, bidet use alone can't explain the discrepancy in use between Europe and the US: we know from experience that not every European home has a bidet. Either they use the bathroom a whole lot less than us, or our friends across the pond must just use fewer sheets to do the job. Aside from Sheryl's widely ridiculed suggestion that a law be passed to limit use to one or two squares, what else could be done to stem the flow of TP?

msds authoring
Feral Hatfield


Joined: Aug 07, 2010
Posts: 271
If the economy in the US keeps worsening, eventually people will consider even the "little things" right down to that last square of toilet paper.  Often, even now, folk who lived in the great depression are very appreciative of toilet paper and mindful of how much they use. It's funny how a little thing link money can change one's perspective on what is an essential, and what is a luxury. The bottom line  (no pun intended) is, can't make any one do anything they really don't want to. I think the best people can do is to lead by example and educate.

There are a couple of things at issue here, water use and toilet paper use.

Years ago I had the opportunity to tour a sewage plant (guess they are now wastewater treatment centers). Even back then I found it very eye opening. One of the things that had me a bit flabbergasted was a collection of stuff that other than what you would anticipate in that type setting, which had been removed from the water. Coulda been in the worlds greatest pharmacy judging by all of the pills, in all sizes, shapes and colors.
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4432
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    4
when the SHTF maybe we'll have alot of old rumples paper money left that is useless to use as toilet paper
Keith BC


Joined: Feb 09, 2010
Posts: 44
Location: West Coast of Canada
Brenda Groth wrote:
when the SHTF ...

We'll need a lot more than toilet paper then! 
Leila Rich
steward

Joined: May 24, 2010
Posts: 3473
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
    
  63
We've got a native shrub colloquially called  'bushman's toilet paper'.
It's got slightly fuzzy, flexible, large, non-toxic leaves. If you chosen leaf lacks any of the preceeding qualities, your wiping experience will be less than ideal!
Kathryn McCoy


Joined: Aug 07, 2010
Posts: 62
Location: Bozeman, MT
I always take toilet paper hiking and camping, but prefer to save it if I can use something else. So I have used mullein, comfrey, wild grape and mulberry leaves, always digging a hole to bury the leaves afterward. At home, I have experimented with lambs ears, even using it for menstrual cycles, having read that it was very absorbent and good for this purpose. It was.

Lisa Paulson


Joined: Apr 17, 2010
Posts: 252
So the concept is working,    and for those of you unenlightened about a peri bottle mentioned above, it must be the poor mans bidet because they sent me home with one after childbirth and I have used it ever since for 16 years.   

My thought  is still that such a simple change of  a daily habit does not sacrifice ones heigenic standard, if it even halves toilet paper consumption it saves resources making and transporting that toilet paper.   I am going to look for things that work and use less resources, and this works    : )
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
I would prefer using washable clothes because aside from its recyclable, we were used to use it since then.
Eric Hatfield


Joined: May 10, 2010
Posts: 34
Cody Lundin, survivalist from Flagstaff, AZ, talks about using snow in the winter to wipe oneself. He also says using snow to wipe oneself wakes one up real quick.

Between what people are writing and his snow idea, one could conceivable get off TP altogether.

I appreciate this web site; I learn a lot!
Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    1
Eric wrote:
Cody Lundin, survivalist from Flagstaff, AZ, talks about using snow in the winter to wipe oneself. He also says using snow to wipe oneself wakes one up real quick.



ouch!
Feral Hatfield


Joined: Aug 07, 2010
Posts: 271
I thought everyone used snow in the winter!
It's funny how something can become such a habit that one doesn't think about it being different than what the rest of the world is doing......

I can remember the first time I thought about it...... brrrr... shivers... but try it a couple of times, put those rose colored glasses on and... oh my, what a refreshing experience. <VBG>

On a serious note, in most weather you really don't even think about the chill factor.  Unless it's extremely cold (below zero), snow isn't too bad at all.
Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    1
Feral wrote:

On a serious note, in most weather you really don't even think about the chill factor.  Unless it's extremely cold (below zero), snow isn't too bad at all.


that would be a bit of my problem I live out here where snow is a rare thing now but I come from way up north in michigan where there's mornings so cold that when you spit it breaks when it hits the gound
Feral Hatfield


Joined: Aug 07, 2010
Posts: 271
Guess if you ever pee on your shoes that's a good thing..... 

I enjoy the snow, would hate to be in the cold without it.
Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit


Joined: Aug 08, 2010
Posts: 201
Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
Use your hand or some cloth and water. Catch it in a basket and reuse your brown- ummm - greywater in the garden, e.g. water your compost pile with it. I wouldn't apply it directly on strawberries.


Life that has a meaning wouldn't ask for its meaning. - Theodor W. Adorno
Feral Hatfield


Joined: Aug 07, 2010
Posts: 271
I really like the hollyhock idea. Hadn't thought of it before. I suspect there will be a few appearing on my property over the next few years.

So... I've gained something great from this thread. A free, renewable, reusable (?) all natural, pay for it once in a lifetime (one packet of seeds) for less than a package of TP.

Thanks, you all are great!
Lisa Paulson


Joined: Apr 17, 2010
Posts: 252
Well now I too am seriously planting plants with large soft leaf structure on the path out to the outhouse  (yes we have the worlds loveliest outhouse on the get away property) and in the permaculture plantings around the house too!
We rarely get snow , butt  when we do hmm, I seriously will give it a try.    Cloths sound like something to incorporate as well.
I am not stopping all use of toilet paper in my house, there is still a roll hanging but it takes logging of trees, processing , bleaching and  multiple transports to get TP in to your home.  Yes people find alternatives when it becomes to expensive or unavailable but why not try alternatives so that we have sustainable lifestyles.  Life as we know it is not making perfect sense to me.  So I want ideas to make changes now when it can make a difference rather than later. 
So hollyhocks and lambs ear for me too...
pkile Hatfield


Joined: Aug 11, 2010
Posts: 8
I found a nice alternative that is ancient. I installed a simple unheated bidet on my toilet, significantly decreasing toilet tissue usage and improving hygiene.
PKile
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
Feral wrote:pay for it once in a lifetime (one packet of seeds)


In an urban setting, lots of hollyhock seeds will be available as you walk around the neighborhood. Lots of other varieties of mallow, as well...one particularly tree-like variety keeps catching my attention, and I think I might plant some eventually.
Erik Green


Joined: Aug 21, 2010
Posts: 50
Location: California
"I found a nice alternative that is ancient. I installed a simple unheated bidet on my toilet, significantly decreasing toilet tissue usage and improving hygiene. "

I was thinking that would be a good idea. 

In Japan, these are common place.  I've seen vids on You-tube of an American who lives there demonstrating these cool appliances. 

Do you have any pics to show us of yours set up Pkile?
Dave Miller


Joined: Jun 08, 2009
Posts: 365
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
    
    5
OK, I'll ask the obvious question - why is it that only humans need to wipe?  I have never seen an animal attempt to wipe itself (dogs with anal gland issues excluded).  But then again many animals lick themselves clean.

For pooping, I would guess that it has something to do with our diet and generally insufficient exercise?
Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    1
it most likely has more to do with our habit of wearing clothes which tend to colect what would otherwise dry up and flake off
jacque greenleaf
volunteer

Joined: Jan 21, 2009
Posts: 458
Location: Underwood, WA (USDA zone 7, Sunset zone 3) - in the Columbia Gorge highlands
adunca wrote:
OK, I'll ask the obvious question - why is it that only humans need to wipe?  I have never seen an animal attempt to wipe itself (dogs with anal gland issues excluded).  But then again many animals lick themselves clean.



Chimps reportedly use leaves.

I think bipeds like ourselves run a greater risk of irritation from clingons than quadrupeds. And our heavily modified diets might well be a factor in the occurrence of said clingons!
charles c. johnson


Joined: Dec 02, 2009
Posts: 369
squatting with your butt almost  touching your heels helps to reduces wiping.

In Ancient Rome, a sponge on a stick was commonly used, and, after usage, placed back in a bucket of saltwater.

http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q=roman+toilet+sponge&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=-cCETM_uB5TdngfIjNXYAQ&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=5&ved=0CDEQsAQwBA&;
Warren David


Joined: Nov 18, 2010
Posts: 186
I was having a walk in the hills here (Ibiza, Spain)  when I got caught short and had to do my business there and then or mess my pants  (it was the start of a bout of gastric flu). Unfortunately there are very few leafy trees growing in the wild here. I was surrounded by pine trees (which the island is quite well known for) and wild rosemary bushes so really not much use in my predicament. There was plenty of sandstone though so I had to use some of that. I don't recommend it though. 
Steve Furlong


Joined: Nov 10, 2010
Posts: 40
If you're outdoors, I find bunches of slightly damp grass, or sphagnum moss (bog/moor only though) work well. Far better than any paper in fact. I was wondering about comfrey leaves too, since they're large, tough and slightly abrasive.
solomon martin


Joined: Jan 17, 2011
Posts: 102
    
    1
When it comes to using leaves, the best you will ever find (in my experience) come from the common Mullein plant.
They are soft and fuzzy, not toxic. The plants are attractive, grow well in poor soil and harsh climates and also have nutritional and medicinal properties.  Another great thing about Mullen is that it is a biennial, so there are always young tender leaves for your corn-hole.  I have picked toilet paper in February, in between patches of melting snow (also good t.p., cold though).  You can grow it in your garden (plant in poor, under-watered and disturbed soil) or wild craft your own.  Most often here in MT, you find it in clear cuts, gravel pits, along roads or on open southern aspects.

They call it corn-hole for a reason, corn cobs were often used by settlers in the Piedmont and Appalachian regions.

I recall in my one of my seed catalogs a decorative gourd that had soft fluffy flesh that might work too.

I have a pet theory that we first domesticated dogs by letting them eat our feces.  Human poop often contains a lot of undigested protein which in dog terms equals a hot meal.  Thier saliva is naturally antiseptic, and they lick their own...  Sounds weird maybe, but I think it could be a realistic alternative.  Like a living bidet.

Steve Furlong


Joined: Nov 10, 2010
Posts: 40
Train dogs to give rimjobs? Haha!
solomon martin


Joined: Jan 17, 2011
Posts: 102
    
    1
Yeah its kind of pervy maybe, I brought it up only because I read some ethnological accounts of Native Alaskans having to club dogs away to relieve themselves in peace.  The huskies would try to get at it before it froze.
Marianne McCoy


Joined: Dec 01, 2010
Posts: 158
Location: Abilene, KS
This is so weird... I was just thinking about this yesterday!

I made the switch to cloth about a month ago.  Once you get a system down, it's not bad at all.  I just cut up a few old t-shirts (cut off the logos and paint goobers).  I stuff the clean ones in a tissue box for easy dispensing.  I have a plastic coffee canister with water and a bit of vinegar for the used rags.

When it comes to 'solids' (okay, poo), sometimes I use TP on the first pass, then follow up with wet cloth as the sink is close enough to reach.  Those cloths get semi washed in the sink before I put them in the cannister.

On laundry day, I drain the cannister, add water, put the lid back on and shake the canister.  I usually do this a couple times, sometimes adding a shot or two of foam soap to the can.  That way it all gets a pre-wash before going in with the regular clothes.

I think people need to remember that there isn't that much urine on the cloth.  These aren't soaked like diapers.

I still keep TP on the spindle so I don't freak out any visitors.  I also beat a path to the bathroom when someone pops over to hide the evidence.  Our friends and family think I'm pretty close to the edge of sanity as it is...

My husband would FAINT if he knew I posted this!     And I have to say that I like using cloth better than TP now.


Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
 
 
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