Would You Give Up Toilet Paper?

There’s one thing that we all use when we go to the toilet. The one thing that we rage about when it runs out, and the one thing we’re willing to spend a little extra money on just for added comfort. It’s toilet paper, of course, but is it true that we all use it when we go to the toilet?

Well, the answer to that is a surprising no. There are increasing amounts of people that are choosing to forgo using toilet paper for a number of reasons; such as being frugal or to help the environment. But what do you use instead? Isn't it disgusting to avoid the use of toilet paper? Let’s answer those questions.

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Toilet Paper isn't always the best option

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It initially sounds weird when you hear about people forgoing the use of toilet paper, but when you take some time to think about it, it’s not as uncommon as you think. In areas of the world where no or poor sewer systems exist, people have been going without toilet paper at all. When you can’t flush the toilet paper away then you’ll quickly decide that having to come up with a way to dispense of all that mucky paper just isn’t worth the effort. You’ll know about this if you've ever been on holiday to a country like Cyprus. Many of the buildings aren't connected to any sort of sewage system, so toilet paper must be thrown in a bin next to the toilet. When you’re in a country known for its hot weather, the bin isn’t exactly going to smell nice after a few days.

In Middle Eastern and developing countries, again mostly due to the fact that inadequate plumbing is rife, they've grown used to using just water and their hands. They will wipe with their left hand, before washing themselves with soap. This is why they won’t eat food with their left hands, as it’s reserved for bathroom activities. I’ll admit that the thought of having your own leavings on your hands doesn't sound particularly desirable, but at least you’re doing it in private and plenty of soap will destroy any germs that linger.

One other thing to mention is about the impact that toilet paper has on the environment. According to ToiletPaperHistory.com, one tree will produce about 100 pounds worth of toilet paper. 83 million toilet rolls are made every day, which results in about 27,000 trees being chopped down daily. That’s a huge environmental impact, so if you want to minimise your impact on the environment then going without toilet paper is a good way to start.

What do people use instead of toilet paper?

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We've touched on this topic before, and some are big users of the reusable cloth. These are basically flannels that you can use to wipe, before throwing them into a box near the toilet. Every few days or so this box is emptied into the washing machine. After a wash and dry, they can be used again. It may not sound appealing, but the savings alone may be worth it (see ‘will you save money?’). Of course, one problem is that it might start to smell after a while, so as long as you wash it as soon as you notice the smell then your bathroom shouldn’t have terrible smells lingering around for long.

Other people may use spray hoses or bidets. Both are good alternatives to toilet paper, and the fact that Plumbworld sells quite a lot of bidets shows that there are people in the UK that are more than willing to try something different. 

Will you save money?

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Let’s say that you spend about £150 a year on toilet paper (it will obviously vary depending on brand and quality). If you switch to reusable wipes instead, a pack of 20 will set you back about £9.33. So if you buy two packs and wash them every week (taking into account that you’ll have to use the washing machine, plus the detergent you will use) it should still come out under the amount you spend on toilet paper.

From everything I’ve touched on here, it actually sounds like using toilet paper is a bit of a weird thing to do. When you combine the amount of money we spend with the environmental impact it has, using it seems counterproductive when there are other alternatives available – especially when some people argue that these alternatives actually get you cleaner. On the other hand, I’ve been using toilet paper all my life and it would feel very weird to start doing something else. It just feels more comfortable to do it (provided you’re not using those cheap rough rolls) than spraying lots of water around that area. I think I’d have to be severely lacking in cash before I considered ditching it.


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