*this is a TMI blog. There will be poop ahead, so stop reading or put your lunch down*
Purchase the wipes above here.
We ran out of toilet paper yesterday... and I got to thinking. We already use cloth wipes on Luca, why shouldn't we use them on ourselves? Then I did some research on toilet paper. The average American uses over 100 single rolls—about 21,000 sheets—each year.
Additionally, during the manufacture of most toilet paper (Think big name brands like Kimberly Clark), chlorine bleach is used to process and whiten the virgin wood fiber. This process produces dioxins which are very toxic to both factory workers in paper mills, fish living in the lakes where this byproduct is dumped. Even without working in one of these factories, or eating fish, it inevitably ends up in our drinking water, and as a synthetic compound, is never broken down once produced. There's no getting rid of it. According to The National Institute of Environment, populations exposed to high levels of dioxins have increased risks of birth defects, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. The dioxin in question, TCDD has been shown to cause increased fetal loss and reduced birth weight in animal studies.
There are alternative methods of whitening toilet paper, such as using Hydrogen peroxide or sodium hydro sulfate. Better yet, you could buy unbleached toilet paper for your family! These alternatives can be pricey though, and that leaves me to explain "The Family Cloth." Intent on never purchasing chemical laden toilet paper again, I cut up an old cotton sheet into large rectangular squares, and folded them in half, and piled them next to the toilet. I must remark on the softness of cloth wipes. It's really pleasant. To wash, I've placed a glass basin of vinegar diluted with water under our bathroom sink, and I just throw them in there until I'm ready to wash them. You could just throw them in the wash with the rest of your clothes as pee is sterile, but I'd rather not wash them with babies clothes. I'm not ready to graduate to full on cloth yet, but because the use (and price) of toilet paper is going to be significantly reduced , I'm okay with buying Unbleached toilet paper for Number poos.
If you feel like making a difference, but don't want to go to the "extreme" of cloth, here are some better alternatives as listed in The Green Toilet.
- Unbleached: Completely natural – no bleach added. May not be a winner on softness or comfort.
- Processed Chlorine Free (PCF): Recycled paper bleached with oxygen, ozone, or hydrogen peroxide. Examples brands of PCF toilet paper: Seventh Generation, Green Forest, Planet, 365 Whole Foods, Earth First. See the NRDC’s toilet paper comparison chart.
- Totally Chlorine Free (TCF): Non-recycled paper bleached with oxygen, ozone, or hydrogen.
Now for some of the bad
- Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF): Paper bleached with chlorine dioxide. This process releases fewer dioxins than bleaching with chlorine gas, but it is still is harmful to the environment. Examples brands of ECF toilet paper: Charmin, Quilted Northern, Cottonelle, Angle Soft, Kleenex, Safeway Select
- Chlorine Gas: Dioxins galore!